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.


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 […]


Speaking of white supremacists, remember these boys who did not make Kansas proud

By: - October 4, 2020

First exhibit Here is a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Topeka against one Jarrett William Smith, a private first class at Fort Riley who was sentenced in August to a minimum of 30 months in prison for distributing information on making bombs and napalm via social media. The complaint is crisp and […]


Kansas’ Confederate flag fliers say, ‘Honk if you love hate’

By: - September 20, 2020

There’s a guy in town who drives around with a Confederate battle flag fluttering from the back of his pickup. Here’s what I’d like to tell him: Congratulations. Just when I thought things can’t get any worse, you’ve found a way to show me what worse looks like. You drive from one end of town […]


This pandemic Labor Day, it’s still a ‘Jungle’ in Kansas

By: - September 6, 2020

Grilling this Labor Day weekend? Then take a moment to reflect on the meatpacking workers who have made your barbecue feast possible. You see, the history of Labor Day has a surprising connection to the Sunflower State, and it’s a legacy that is still playing out in meatpacking plants today. As a society we continue […]


In solidarity with protesters, Kansas cops should surrender military hand-me-downs

By: - August 23, 2020

The problem with the militarization of the police isn’t the gear. It’s the mindset. The Fort Hays State University Police Department, a few years ago, received 14 rifles, including nine M-16s and two sniper rifles, that the U.S. Department of Defense no longer needed. Fort Hays is one of 117 campuses across the nation that […]