It's his second book, and it was designed to enlighten both visitors and those who are familiar with the Fort Smith area.
Written by longtime Fort Smith resident and retired broadcast journalist Robert Parson, "Greater Than a Tourist: Fort Smith, Arkansas USA" is a new, 111-page guide that highlights the Fort Smith National Historic Site, area museums, parks, annual events and other notable places and things in the region. The guide serves as a simple way for an individual to focus on and learn about what makes Fort Smith "interesting and special," Parson said.
"The history of the American West cannot be written without Fort Smith," said the 58-year-old Southside High School graduate. "This was the jumping-off point to Indian Territory and the greater West, and of course, you have this beautiful scenery around here with the Boston Mountains, the world's largest hill in Poteau and more. This is an area that is very, very unique in its history, its culture and its beauty of scenery.
"And as far as I know, this is the first actual tourism book on Fort Smith," Parson added. "There is a tourist brochure that is produced by the Visitors Bureau, but as far as an actual tourism book about Fort Smith in particular, I think think this is the first one."
The guide, which is published by CZYK Publishing and be purchased for $11.97 at Newsbob.com, is the size of a large paperback and is part of a series of more than 400 travel guides that feature global destinations. This "Greater Than a Tourist" series is written by people who have lived in their respective communities for at least three months.
"We tend to be familiar with Fort Smith and seem to know everything that is here, but at the same time, we take things for granted," said Parson, who was born in Indiana and now stays busy with writing books and various freelance projects. "We need to be more forward about promoting the excitement we have here in the Fort Smith area.
"The book is a thumbnail guide about the different things here, like the National Historic Site, and we go into the Boston Mountains and talk about them for a little bit, too," he added. "There are some other locations in western Arkansas, and people can take short day trips in western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma."
The new guide also includes "unique" places for shopping and eating, Parson said.
"Things like the Belle Grove District and The Unexpected going for several years now, things are really popping in Fort Smith," said Parsons, who with his wife, Gaby, has three children and four grandchildren. "Many features make this area unique."
Parson, whose first book was the political-action novel, "The Corp," is currently writing and publishing "Ambassador Service" one chapter at a time online, and he's also working on what he likes to call an "end-of-the-world novel.
"I am plotting that story out now," he said before laughing. "I get to blow things up in the story."
Parson said an audio book version of "Greater Than a Tourist: Fort Smith, Arkansas USA" that features his narration is pending.
"We need to be beating our own drum, so to speak, and to let people know how great Fort Smith is," he said. "To quote the late Ray Baker, life is worth living in Fort Smith, Arkansas."