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If you're looking for a summer read, you could do worse than Inman Majors' new novel The Millionaires
. It's the tale of the brothers Cole, Roland and JT, who rise from East Tennessee bumpkins in the '70s to preside over a vast and ambitious banking empire.
The Coles aren't your usual staid bankers. JT has a propensity for heavy drinking and cheating on his wife. So does Roland, who also wants to be governor. And both are beating back local opposition to bring the world's fair to the fictitious city of Glennville, a sleepy town in East Tennessee that vaguely resembles Nashville -- only without the country music signature.
Majors, a professor at James Madison, is a skilled and inventive writer. Though the novel moves at a country boy's pace, it illuminates the rough-and-tumble times, and the not-quite-legal ways of the money men who would reach their full excess in the '80s.
Filled with crooked Memphis senators, cowardly governors and no shortage of bar scenes involving Nashville's scheming pols, it's a look back on the politics and money of Tennessee past. They're just as corrupt, but not quite as weird.