THE SOUTH IN MODERN AMERICA

A REGION AT ODDS

In a perceptive look at the nation's most distinctive region, Grantham (History/Vanderbilt Univ.) examines the relationship between the South and the rest of the United States during the 20th century. He delineates this relationship in terms of several major themes, exploring the modern history of sectional conflict, the many areas of compromise among the regions, cultural convergence between the South and other areas of the country (with the consequent blurring of southern culture's special features), and the persistence, nonetheless, of southern distinctiveness in the nation's consciousness. Conflict was reflected both in the mutually unflattering perceptions and attitudes of Southerners and Northerners and in substantive differences between the regions on party alignment, civil rights, Prohibition, and federal regulation of utilities, tariffs, and banks. Although it often disagreed with the Northeast, Midwest, and West on these and other issues, the South in Grantham's view pervasively influenced American politics and society as a whole in many ways. Prior to WW II and the civil rights movement, the Democratic party was controlled by its southern wing, and southern Democrats, from Richard B. Russell to Huey Long, were a powerful force in Congress, one with which successive presidents had to reckon. In more recent years conservative southern factions have demonstrated similar influence in the Republican party. With what Grantham calls the ``Second Reconstruction'' of the 1960s and with the emergence of the Sunbelt South, the region has lost its traditional hallmark of backwardness, developing an increasingly urbanized economy and becoming in many ways more prosperous and progressive than the decaying, racially polarized North. Nonetheless, Grantham argues, the South retains some of its special cultural features, including a fervent religiosity, a ``subculture of violence,'' and a profusion of literary talent, from Barry Hannah to Bobbie Ann Mason. A rich, sympathetic, warts-and-all portrait of the South.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-016773-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1994

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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