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Cups Up - How I Organized a Klavern, Plotted a Coup, Survived Prison, Graduated College, Fought Polluters, and Started a Business

Cups Up

How I Organized a Klavern, Plotted a Coup, Survived Prison, Graduated College, Fought Polluters, and Started a Business

By George T. Malvaney
Series: Willie Morris Books in Memoir and Biography

Hardcover : 9781496816795, 192 pages, 20 b&w illustrations, April 2018

A riveting story of perseverance and redemption that proves life is stranger than fiction


George T. Malvaney's life epitomizes the old maxim that "You cannot make this stuff up. " Combine a young Klansman from Mississippi, an armed coup attempt in the Caribbean, a stay in prison, and a life-changing epiphany, and you have but half of this swashbuckling tale. Throw in the worst man-made ecological disaster in the history of the United States, and you have unleashed Malvaney's full life story. The Klansman, the soldier of fortune, the wild-eyed prisoner transforms into a renowned leader of the Mississippi Gulf Coast cleanup effort in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

In his too-crazy-not-to-be-true memoir, Malvaney chronicles what easily should be several lifetimes of adventure--and misadventure. Growing up in a close-knit family in Jackson, Mississippi, the young Malvaney preferred woods and swamps to the drudgery of high school. He dropped out, enlisted in the Navy, and shortly afterwards joined the Ku Klux Klan. While onboard, he organized a branch of the Klan, corrupting and endangering his crewmen. After his discharge, he answered a mercenary call to take part in an invasion of Dominica, a Caribbean fiasco known as the "Bayou of Pigs. " That madness landed him in a federal penitentiary. And there, somehow, he vowed to turn his life around.

Cups Up, a title drawn from the wake-up call shouted at prisoners, is a story of perseverance, cleansing, and redemption. It chronicles the roller coaster life of a high school dropout, ex-Klansman, ex-mercenary, ex-felon, and ex-con, who went on to become a college graduate, a hardnosed environmental regulator, and a widely respected top executive in a company with more than a thousand employees.


"I met George in the first days of the Deepwater Horizon incident. Like most anyone who learns of his past, I was intrigued with the scandalous escapades of his youth and his transformation to a respected businessman but just never knew the details, until now. Unlike any I've heard or read, Cups Up is a story of redemption about George's missteps into dark places as a youngster with the fortitude to find his way out."

- Haley Barbour, governor of Mississippi, 2004-2012

"George Malvaney's life has had more twists and turns than a Coney Island pretzel. If his myriad experiences prove one thing it's that adrenaline is the only drug worth doing, and it is a terrible thing to waste. Very much a man of his time and place, society's institutions both served and failed Malvaney. Schools and the church not so much, the Navy and prison did better by him. George was one of the lucky ones, he found his purpose in life in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. We are fortunate indeed to have the George Malvaneys of this world in our midst in a time of crisis. Cups Up is an articulate, timely, and honest narrative about a life that has been very much worth the living. I dare say the late Willie Morris, whose Books in Memoir and Biography series Cups Up is a part of, would've recognized George Malvaney and liked him very much."

- William Dunlap, painter and writer

"The hardships of George's youth did not define him. Rather, his determination to overcome those unfortunate circumstances makes his story one of redemption. I am glad he is sharing it."

- Governor Phil Bryant