Former Tiger Takes Fresh Look At 1950’s Phenix City
By Jay Coulter
I always love reading about former Auburn players and what they are doing with their lives. Graduating in mass communication, I’ve closely followed the career of former Tiger defensive end Ace Atkins.
Atkins is best known for playing on the 1993 undefeated team and being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated standing over Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel after a sack.
If you’re a reader of fiction, you know that Atkins has gone on to become an accomplished writer with several acclaimed best sellers. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2000 while covering the crime beat for the Tampa Tribune.
That launched his career as a full-time novelist. He’s written six books to-date including Wicked City that is being released today.
The book is of particular interest to me because it looks at 1950’s Phenix City, Alabama, where I grew up and call home.
For those of you not familiar with the story of Phenix City, let me give you a quick history lesson.
Phenix City was a crime riddled community in the 1950’s. It was home to illegal casinos and numerous brothels. It was run by a close knit crime syndicate that preyed primarily on soldiers across the river at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Growing up, I heard all the stories. My favorite was the time Colonial George Patton took his tank across the river to Phenix City and pointed it at the jail and demanded that his soldiers be released. Needless to say, local officials complied.
The clean up of the city resulted in the Alabama attorney general-elect being assassinated and his son, John Patterson going on to fill his father’s seat and eventually being elected governor of Alabama.
Atkins takes a fresh look at the story and puts his own spin on it.
A few years back, I read his book, White Shadows and found it hard to put down. Atkins can flat out write. I look forward to picking up my copy today and encourage you to do the same.
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