W.J. CASH: A Life by Bruce Clayton

W.J. CASH: A Life

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Here, Allegheny College historian Clayton (Forgotten Prophet: The Life of Randolph Bourne, 1984) tells the moving story of Wilbur Joseph Cash--who, born to the backward, bigoted Bible-thumping South of 1900, consumed his adult life painfully bringing to birth that classic known to generations of college students, The Mind of the South. When Cash was a young, small-town newsman, his honest, biting, iconoclastic style attracted H.L. Mencken for his American Mercury. Clayton calls Cash's easy style "cotton-patch Mencken," which attacked child labor, 12-hour workdays and squalid mill towns. Cash, who loved his southland, raged against its injustices such as racism and brutal Ku Klux Klan lynchings, and the intolerant clerics, fundamentalist fanatics, and corrupt politicians who spawned them. Clayton reveals Cash as a true artist, passionately absorbed in his subject despite suffering from long bouts of ill health and growing alcoholism. Cash's powerful, objective prose about the dark side of the culture of his own people, Clayton shows, gave voice to reason and decency; he was one of the few courageous enough to criticize a society mired in myths of the past, illusions, intolerances, and hypocrisy. Cash and his few friends and supporters helped make the first cracks in the hard mold of the Old South and to create a path for later reformers toward a more just and humane South. An impressive story.

ISBN: 8071-1647-5
Publisher: Louisiana State Univ.
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