KILLERS OF THE DREAM by Lillian Smith
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KILLERS OF THE DREAM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The dream is the dream of freedom- and man has himself been the killer of the dream. In this overwhelmingly and challengingly honest book, Lillian Smith has explored the mind of the South, and much of what she has found is true in varying degrees of the North as well. But where the North has perhaps acquired attitudes, the South finds them rooted deeply in hidebound tradition, in fears and insecurities, in passions and hates that a cruel war and its aftermath fixed upon an entire region. The book is somewhat autobiographical; frequently psychoanalytical; always courageous, even on that difficult ground of hurting those one loves. She has explored causes behind the walls of custom, of good taste, of evasions. She has dared to look into the poverty making pattern of southern life and beliefs and boasts, into religion, into social customs, into economic factors. She ees close links between the South's attitudes towards sin, sex and segregation. She states the precepts on which she was nurtured- and examines their fallacies. She quotes the alibis the Southerner uses -- the cliches that have come to be accepted as truths -- the false promises on which foundations rest. And she leaves not one brick upon another. She human dignity as the essence of free men's belief about themselves, and demands that we accept four cornerstones- dignity, freedom, acceptance, growth- rather than the false face of equality- and that we rebuild on these. She points out the dangers in Communism, the falseness of their offer of acceptance, at a price too high to pay. In a world that is a cyclorama of errors, we have almost lost the free man; liberals are destroying each other; in America we have profound cleavage in our culture and in our people. With the atom bomb, the ultimate in evil has been found; we must find in this atomic age, the ultimate in good. To this end- three bases of human conduct:- what we want, what is right, what survival requires of us. And the first is the hardest to achieve. Her credo- her ""world view"" -- is one most of us would accept, but too few would fight to insure....The book is exciting and stimulating and challenging reading. More concrete human illustrations of the points she makes would have made it more readable for the average reader. More expansion of the too brief space given to the strides that the few who dared in the South were making would perhaps hearten those few to continue their fight- and others to join them. But implicit throughout the book is the demand that each one of us must link responsibility with freedom, if we too would not be ""killers of the dream"". The time is NOW... A book for all who are concerned with the future, rather than the past. The psychological foundations are explored of those conditions which produced Strange Fruit. For those to whom Strange Fruit was more of a message than a story, this book is must reading.

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 1949
ISBN: 0393311600
Publisher: Norton