Book Review: 'Some Were Paupers, Some Were Kings'

Dec 11, 2017

Some Were Paupers, Some Were Kings is a collection of columns written by Mark McCormick over the past 20 years. 

Divided into four thematic sections, each powerful essay stands alone as a commentary about senseless lack of caring and moments of grace and humanity. Taken as a whole, this is a social history that defines and contextualizes life in Wichita. 

The first section, “Black Coffee,” includes pieces such as “One Nation, Indivisible: What will it take?” written in November of 2008. “Are These Guys Felons Because They’re White?” was written after the trial of Westar execs Douglas Lake and David Wittig. McCormick also reflects on David Nichols’ history of Eisenhower’s civil rights work. 

Section two profiles individuals who operate “under the radar” but have life lessons to teach. Included are Wendy Glick in “Unlike Rush, the Lord’s Diner Doesn’t Judge,” and 23-year-old Danielle Morris, whose father died while he was in the work release detention center.

Section three focuses on people rising above. Ron Walters is the subject of “A Sense of Justice--The Lessons He Learned in His Close-Knit Family are at the Heart of Wichita Native Ron Walters' Success” and Barry Sanders' grade school teacher Val Cheatum is honored in “Sanders Blindsided--Gift from Teacher Ignited Powerful Memories.” 

Section four, “Suffer the Little Children” rounds out the book with columns about systems that fail children and young adults. “Let’s Not Rely on Kids to Catch Predators” is particularly timely as is “Michael Vick: Character vs. Consequence.”

McCormick is a master of the editorial column. His writing is clean, crisp, and engaging from the first sentence.