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The Most Interesting Man in Mississippi

By Charles Overby

Charles Overby and Dean Will Norton
Charles Overby and Dean Will Norton

Two things impress me most about Robert Khayat’s new book, “The Education of a Lifetime.”

Without a doubt, he has lived the most interesting life of any Mississippian who has been alive in either the 20th or 21st centuries.

He is and always will be Mr. Ole Miss.

Both of these accomplishments shine through the many stories he tells. But he never claims greatness. He lets the stories speak for themselves.

The thing that makes Khayat’s life so interesting is that he isn’t one dimensional. He has had several careers and could have written a good book about any of them.

Along the way, he has met and interacted with lots of famous people.

Who else do you know who has gone to the movies with Elvis Presley in the middle of the night?

Who else played four years for Johnny Vaught and was called Eddie (his brother) by Vaught?

Who else still blames himself 55 years later for losing a close game to Tennessee?

Who else was turned down by the law school faculty to be dean of the law school and then was handed the much larger prize of chancellor of Ole Miss?

Who else could successfully get Rebel flags out of Hemingway Stadium, receive death threats and still be loved by most Ole Miss alumni.

Who else could bring a presidential debate to Mississippi and Phi Beta Kappa to Ole Miss?

Khayat’s incredible leadership was rooted in a willingness to use his personal popularity to convince people to move beyond the comfortable status quo. He writes, “Most people want progress, but very few want change. This is true even if the change is a clear improvement.”

Not surprisingly, Khayat has written a positive book, reflective of his personality and optimistic outlook. If you’re looking for dirt—or even a few specks—on people, this isn’t your book.

But if you want to glory in one of Mississippi’s most accomplished natives, you’ll love this book.

The good news about this book is that Khayat shares his insights into well-known people from many walks of life, in college sports, pro sports, entertainment, politics and academia.

The bad news is that the reader is left wanting more—more stories and insights into folks like coaches Johnny Vaught and Tommy Tuberville, the Manning family, lawyer/friend Dickie Scruggs, author John Grisham,

Maybe Khayat is teasing us with just enough interesting stuff to want another book. Count me in.

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