Max McCoy

Max McCoy

Max McCoy is an award-winning author and journalist. A native Kansan, he started his career at the Pittsburg Morning Sun and was soon writing for national magazines. His investigative stories on unsolved murders, serial killers and hate groups earned him first-place awards from the Associated Press Managing Editors and other organizations. McCoy has also written more than 20 books, the most recent of which is "Elevations: A Personal Exploration of the Arkansas River," named a Kansas Notable Book by the state library. "Elevations" also won the National Outdoor Book Award, in the history/biography category. Max teaches journalism at Emporia State University.


Let’s not burn down the Kansas institutions that made us

By: - March 21, 2021

Higher education in Kansas is under attack. From a plan to temporarily scrap tenure to a proposed budget that would lop $37 million in state funding from public institutions, campuses across the state are reeling. It’s already been a bad year for colleges, which have tried to keep students safe from the coronavirus by temporarily […]


How I marked a year of changes after the plague came to my Kansas town

By: - March 7, 2021

A year and a day ago the pandemic came to town. It was Friday, March 6, and Emporia State University suspended face-to-face classes at the end of the day. Ordinarily this would have been the start of spring break, but instead it was the beginning of a health crisis whose defining characteristic would be collective […]


In our winter of despair, Gov. Laura Kelly should offer Kansans hope

By: - February 21, 2021

The bad news last Monday might have pushed many Kansans to the wall. Temperatures were plunging to historic lows, the supply of electricity and natural gas was running short and the state’s largest utility had begun rolling blackouts. That afternoon, Gov. Laura Kelly held a news conference to ask us to lower our thermostats. Watching […]

GOP 3rd District candidate Amanda Adkins accuses U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids of being a rubber stamp for President Joe Biden, while Davids contends Adkins was a clone of former Gov. Sam Brownback. (Kansas Reflector screen capture)

Kansas is once again confronted with the passion of Sam Brownback

By: - February 7, 2021

There was chill in the air recently when reports surfaced that Sam Brownback had returned to Kansas and, between riding a motorcycle and wielding a chainsaw on his patch of woods outside Topeka, was thinking about how he could promote racial reconciliation. The idea that Citizen Brownback might get anywhere near influencing public policy in […]


Kansans have spent 22 years restoring Constitution Hall to remind us of our Free State heritage

By: - January 24, 2021

The Topeka Constitution was unequivocal: “There shall be no Slavery in this State.” It was also, in 1856, regarded as rebellion by the sitting president. One of the things about our present cyclone of current events is that it’s easy to forget that history doesn’t follow a 24-hour news cycle. Even though we may feel […]


This letter to a young Kansas journalist is for all who care about democracy

By: - January 10, 2021

One of my critics, stung perhaps by a column in which I reported on how much he is being paid to lobby our state Legislature on behalf of free-market fanatics, recently questioned what it is exactly that I teach my students. As a professor of journalism at a state university, I suppose this was intended […]


This story of a famous photograph, taken at the end of a horrific year, starts and ends in Kansas

By: - December 27, 2020

Fifty-two years ago today, Apollo 8 splashed down in the Pacific after taking humanity’s first swing around the moon. The mission was a triumph of science, discovery and American determination. But in an undeveloped roll of film in the capsule was an image that might be the mission’s most lasting achievement, a self-portrait that continues […]


Kansas is paying the ultimate price for doubt-peddling free-market lobbyists

By: - December 13, 2020

When news came that the CEO of our local hospital had contracted COVID-19, it wasn’t surprising. Robert Wright, the chief executive officer of Newman Regional Health in Emporia, hadn’t been negligent in taking precautions against the virus. Instead, the news was consistent with the extraordinary risk that health care workers and those who support them […]


Calling Dr. Crumbine — Kansas is sick and needs a prescription

By: - November 29, 2020

Today we have a special guest. On the spirit phone is Samuel J. Crumbine, a Kansas doctor and public health pioneer. He campaigned against the common drinking cup, invented the flyswatter, and ordered bricks telling us not to spit on the sidewalk. Dr. Crumbine, welcome to the column. Thanks, glad to be here. (A bit […]


How a small act of kindness in Kansas on Election Day gave me hope for America

By: - November 15, 2020

It was chilly in the shade here in Emporia on Election Day. I know because my wife was on her way to teach a masked and socially distanced class at Emporia State at about 10:30 that morning when she found an old man shivering in the shadows of the porch at an empty house on […]


Until we end Electoral College, hundreds of thousands of Kansans’ votes for president won’t matter

By: - November 1, 2020

I’m a native Kansan, born in Baxter Springs, and every presidential vote I’ve ever cast has been in my home state. But none of my votes has counted, not even when my candidate was elected president. In Kansas, only six votes really matter. That’s our state’s share of the 538 votes in the Electoral College, […]


How Kansas’ infamous goat gland doctor carved a political path for Donald Trump

By: - October 18, 2020

When I was a kid, Saturdays would find me at the Johnston Public Library on West Tenth Street in Baxter Springs, where one book in particular was so strange that even as a kid, I detected a deeply disturbing vibe. It was the life story of one John Romulus Brinkley, as told by himself. You […]