By LYDIA BERGLAR
A recently published book chronicling the history of north Georgia begins the first chapter with Dade County, featuring names and stories that are familiar to many Dade residents. Written and self-published by lifelong California native Lorenzo Lucchesi, “Georgia Rising: The Battle Between Pride and Policy” was released in mid-August of this year.
Lucchesi’s curiosity about Georgia and its people was piqued by the national political coverage of recent years. Georgia has found itself at the center of many political conversations, and Lucchesi realized that many Americans who haven’t lived in Georgia knew little about the state.
He explained, “The problem I see is that people care about these political races, but they care about Georgia in a superficial way. They’re really not interested in getting to know these communities. Headline reading can be damaging to Georgia, but for people who want to go beyond what we hear in the news, I think this book can be very helpful.” The book focuses on the last 80 years of the state’s history.
While he views his book as something of a reference book, he also wanted it to be readable and hopes it stirs interest about Georgia communities. Focusing in on Dade, Lucchesi said, “I see Dade as such a little sliver of the state but so rich in its history. I know a lot of people are moving there now, and I hope the people who live there and in these other communities are proud of their history.”
He noted that interesting details and personal stories make complex history easier to digest. “I came across ‘Dear Old Lookout Mountain,’ an old war song, and it’s those little things that make history really beautiful. A lot of the beauty is in these details, and working on the book was so enriching to me.”
The young author has already published several books, most notably “Staten Island: Like It or Not!” which is described as a “critical analysis of New York’s ‘forgotten borough’ examined through its ethnic history, politics and government, and social dynamics.”
Lucchesi wrote “Georgia Rising” throughout his four years of undergrad at the University of California, Berkley while majoring in Legal Studies, Chinese, and Korean. He wrote the book of his own initiative – not for educational credit or as a thesis. He describes himself as a curious person who enjoys understanding details, and the book was his entirely own endeavor.
Currently, Lucchesi is in his first year at the University of San Francisco School of Law, and while he plans to work in financial law, he also plans to continue writing, saying, “I have a lot of ideas and places I’m curious about.”
In “Georgia Rising,” Lucchesi hoped to offer new, helpful information by talking with hundreds of Georgia politicians, residents, and local historians to learn about the many communities that make up the northern part of the state.
He explained, “I could have covered the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement in more detail, but I choose to focus elsewhere because those major events have been thoroughly researched and written about by others. My book chronicles predominantly political, social, economic, and industrial changes from approximately the Tennessee-Georgia border down to Atlanta and its southern suburbs. If people are going to understand Georgia, they need at least a synopsis of what’s been going on in these little communities in the last 80 years.”
He conducted nearly 350 interviews with current and former state and federal legislators, current and former mayors, knowledgeable community residents, historians, and people who were influential in the poultry, textile, natural resources, and other Georgia industries. Connected to Dade County, Lucchesi spoke with Donna Street, Ken Pennington, Gene Carter, Rex Blevins, Colton Moore, Tom Pounds, and Mike Cameron.
Finding and contacting people who were interested in contributing was no small task. Lucchesi explained, “I committed myself to trying to get a good sample of people from each of these counties. For Dade, Colton Moore provided a reference to Ken who referenced Donna, and it was really just a chain of referrals.”
Lucchesi reflected, “I really enjoyed getting acquainted with Dade County’s history and all the special events and people that helped to shape it. Through these individuals, I learned a lot about the county’s historical relationship with Chattanooga, the secession controversy and intriguing facets, as well as a bit about Dade’s community dynamics. Of course, there’s the Tennessee-Georgia water dispute. There’ve been a lot of legislative attempts to change the state border.”
When asked how Georgia is different from San Francisco, Lucchesi quipped, “Pretty much in every way.” One aspect he mentioned is the representation that the people and small towns of Georgia historically had from legislators. “California doesn’t really work that way. Our politics function on a much different scale.” Through his research, he noticed a shift in Georgia from local concerns to national issues, along with a transition away from an agriculturally dominated society.
When asked about the challenge of uncovering truth and properly understanding history, Lucchsi answered, “Truth is something very difficult to find. You can corroborate a lot between what people said and what was in the newspapers, but when it comes to personal accounts, these are people giving their own perspectives. For some stories, there’s really no way to know the exact truth. A couple senators talking about lawsuits they were involved in, but of course, they were sharing their own perspectives.”
To help with fact-checking, he gave the people he interviewed the opportunity to review their contributions to the book. He sees fact-checking and careful editing as a matter of credibility. “I took editing very seriously. You have to commit yourself to an immense level of detail. I want people to take the book seriously, and in order to establish that credibility, I had to review every detail.”
Of the title, Lucchesi explained, “Two major aspects of the book are people’s pride in their communities and also the government aspect of policy.” His cover artist (who came up with the title) included imagery that hints at Georgia, such as farmland, a peach, a tractor, and the Stone Mountain engraving.
“Georgia Rising: The Battle Between Pride & Policy” can be purchased on Amazon, and Lucchesi is happy to send signed copies to interested customers. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 415-806-5147.