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A Look Back In History

Webster Groves resident and Missouri history enthusiast, KTVI (Channel 2) anchor John Brown, talks about his newest book, Missouri – an illustrated timeline. This is John’s 6th book with the publishing company, Reedy Press. On the heels of his latest book release, John was also recently awarded “Best News Anchor” in Missouri by the Missouri Broadcasters Association. While the book offers a historical retrospective, it’s far from a typical history book. John presents Missouri’s past 200 years in a way that is both educational and entertaining for every generation and generations to come. The book is available at What was the inspiration for the book? Missouri’s 200th anniversary is next year, August 10, 2021. It’s going to be such a big deal for the state of Missouri. I thought, “What kind of book will get people excited about the 200th anniversary of our statehood?” I’m hoping people read and feel the same level of excitement that I do as we approach 2021. What did you learn in writing this book? We tend to compartmentalize history and say, “Well, that happened, and that was the only thing happening.” But when events are placed on a timeline, you realize several things happened in the same time period. While Jesse James was robbing people in mid-Missouri, 150 miles away in St. Louis, Washington University and St. Louis University were developing highly respected scientific institutions with medical schools and hospitals. In 20 or 30 years from now, we’ll think back about this time with the pandemic and assume everyone was just stuck at their home, not talking, not doing anything. But things are happening. We just don’t know about them yet. There are people at home working on the next great invention. How did you become a history expert? I’m not an expert. I’m just interested. I lived in 20 different towns all over Missouri before I graduated from college. I’ve lived in almost every part of the state. I’ve gotten to know the people, live in the towns and go to the high schools. It’s a rather unusual way to learn history. But it worked for me because I understand what makes each of the different areas so unique. That’s important to me because I had to fight to get my book, Missouri Legends, published about ten years ago. They said nobody wanted to read about famous Missourians. That book became a big success. The message of that book is simple, it doesn’t matter what town you are from, people from all over Missouri have found success and you can too. Favorite Road trip in Missouri? I can’t drive between here and Springfield without saying, “Let’s get off and look at Devil’s Bend.” My wife and I just took our girls to the Lake of the Ozarks the slow way – through the wine country. It took us 12 hours.