George R. ZEPP. Hidden History of Nashville. Charleston: The History Press, 2009. 160 pp.
George Zepp has compiled here over four dozen of his weekly “Learn Nashville” columns from Nashville’s paper, The Tennessean. The success of the column—not only is it a local favorite, many out-of-towners regularly read it online—evinces Nashville’s locals, natives and friends desire to remain connected to their city’s past. Zepp’s columns, and now this book, admirably fulfill their need. He tackles local lore, larger-than-life legends, rumors, and tall-tales. He reaches back into the early days when Nashville was a wilderness outpost (one column describes how settler Timothy Demonbreun lived in a cave midway up the bluff on the Cumberland River) as well as the haunts and landmarks still alive in more recent memory (the spooky mansion on what is now Music Row). He reveals the famous, infamous and obscure in well-researched, brief and highly accessible vignettes. The scope is necessarily wide enough and the research is sufficiently deep enough to interest both the casual reader and satisfy those with more rigorous historical inclinations. Numerous black-and-white photographs add considerably to the book’s historical as well as visual appeal. Regrettably, it is not indexed. The inclusion of one in a future printing will increase significantly the book’s usefulness as a research tool. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in Nashville history.