THE POLITICAL SOUTH IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY by Monroe Lee Billington

THE POLITICAL SOUTH IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A shallow, disappointing treatment of a promising theme: political divisions and developments in the so-called Solid South since 1900. The least skimpy part of the book shows how the Progressive era did not bypass the region: anti-black sentiment prevailed (as in the rest of the country), but business-oriented reformers set out to create a skilled, healthy labor force and build the infrastructure needed for industrial development. Why this didn't go further before the Depression is not explained, and Billington approaches the 1930's with driblets about Huey Long and equanimity toward the New Deal's crop reduction policies, plus an observation that this decade drew the South permanently into the web of federal funds and programs. He offers no follow-up in terms of post-World War II military installations and the like. As for the party system, Billington doesn't really make clear why the Dixiecrat split effort of Strom Thurmond failed, any more than he bets past a simple-racialism interpretation of George Wallace's appeal. And there is a quite inexcusable omission of analysis of the 1970 Congressional races in the south. Thus Billington tells us little more than we already knew when he concludes that the two-party system has a growing future in the region.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1974
Publisher: Scribners