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“William Jennings Bryan: A Difference Maker” Brings Influential Politician’s Story to Life

December 2, 2019

When Corrine Livesay came to Bryan College in 2003 with her husband, Dr. Stephen Livesay, she realized that many people were either unaware of William Jennings Bryan’s place in history or held an impression skewed by fictional satirizations (the most well-known being “Inherit the Wind,” a play based on the Scopes Trial). With this in mind, she set out to write a book that examined more than just the final days of Bryan’s life, with the goal of helping readers gain a more holistic view of the man who was both an influential American and the college’s namesake. 

Putting together such a book required extensive gathering and cataloging of information. In addition to traditional forms of research, Mrs. Livesay sought out and captioned 125 photos to add visual interest to the book. This significant number of photographs required acquiring rights, finding high-resolution copies, and pairing the right information with the right image. Mrs. Livesay also traveled to locations where Bryan lived, touring locations in Asheville, NC, Lincoln, NE, and Miami, FL. In addition to visiting Bryan’s frequented locations, she also explored Bryan family cemeteries and combed through historical records in each city. 

“William Jennings Bryan: A Difference Maker” is written in a unique, thematic presentation as opposed to the conventional chronological approach. The chapters are divided into five parts: 

 (1) Bryan’s family life and preparation for a life of service, (2) his political career, (3) his exceptional communication abilities, (4) the callings and crusades he pursued during his final decade, and (5) his place in America’s historical memory. In addition to printed material, the book features a free Web Companion that provides access to videos, audio, eBooks, letters, and articles to enrich the reader’s experience and continue to expand on Bryan’s life. 

“I believe Bryan is a role model for the kind of students Bryan College seeks to produce,” Mrs. Livesay commented when asked what inspired the title of her book. “Those who are ‘servants of Christ’ who ‘make a difference in today’s world’. The book provides evidence of Bryan’s strong faith and servant’s heart. Bryan earned the right to wear the moniker of ‘A Difference Maker’ because of the many ways that he significantly impacted education, religion, politics, and American culture during his 30 years in the national and international spotlight.”

“I hope readers will come to appreciate the life and legacy of this great man,” Mrs. Livesay continued when asked what she hopes readers will take away from the book,and that they will be challenged to be difference makers in whatever realms of influence they walk and live and touch people each day.”

To purchase a copy of William Jennings Bryan: A Difference Maker, go to bryan.edu/wjb and click the “Order Book Here” option.

For those who live near Bryan College campus, visit the Campus Store on the first floor of Mercer Hall, M-F, 9-12 and 1-4 p.m. 

Dayton residents can also pick up a copy at the local ArtCrafters and the Rhea County Heritage and Scopes Trial Museum downtown.

All proceeds go to support the Bryan Opportunity Scholarship Program.

Book design by Curtis Jolley.