About Jeff Bradley
I was born in Kingsport, a Tennessee town that once sentenced an elephant to death and the last place where Elvis Presley played second on the bill. Growing up steeped in southern Appalachian storytelling, I enrolled in journalism school at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and learned how to tell stories on a professional level. I did the smartest thing any male writer can do—marry a good woman who has a job—and became the stringer for The New York Times, Time, and Newsweek.
A fellow Tennessean, the late Richard Marius, invited me in 1979 to teach freshman writing at Harvard. The chance to educate impressionable youth who will someday run the country and who would hang onto every word from anyone who could bestow an "A" was irresistible, so my wife and I moved to Massachusetts.
Having a Southern accent at Harvard took 50 points off my perceived IQ, but I compensated by telling snake stories, tales of weird relatives, and talking about Baptist gospel disc jockeys to New Englanders, who have no snake stories of their own and will believe almost anything about Tennessee.
I once stood in a Unitarian church and enlightened a small group of listeners about an alleged Tennessee folk remedy for getting rid of fleas on dogs: pour equal parts of whiskey and sand on the afflicted animal.
"How does that work?" asked an earnest woman, holding a cup of herb tea.
With a straight face, I replied, "The fleas get drunk and stone each other to death."
This line, which would make anyone in Tennessee laugh out loud, was greeted in silence as if it were revealed truth. During those years in Massachusetts I found myself explaining Tennessee over and over to many people who had never been there. Eventually, I decided to write a book.
In 1985, the Harvard Common Press published my A Traveler's Guide to the Smoky Mountains Region. In 1997, Moon Publications published Moon Handbooks: Tennessee, with a second edition in 1999, a third in 2003, and a fourth in 2005. In 2002, I joined forces with Mike Sigalas in writing Moon Handbooks: Smoky Mountains.
I live in Boulder, Colorado.