The definitive history of the American South since World War II, offering a brisk, but comprehensive and authoritative narrative of politics, race, economics, and culture.
In this superb volume, James C. Cobb
provides the first truly comprehensive history of the South since World War II, brilliantly capturing an era of dramatic change, both in the South and in its relationship with the rest of the nation. Here is a panoramic narrative that flows seamlessly from the Dixiecrats to the “southern strategy,” to the South's domination of today's GOP, and from the national ascendance of southern culture and music, to a globalized Dixie's allure for foreign factories and a flood of immigrants, to the roles of women and an increasingly visible gay population in contemporary southern life. The heart of the book illuminates the struggle for Civil Rights. Jim Crow still towered over the South in 1945, but Cobb shows that Pearl Harbor unloosed forces that would bring its ultimate demise. Growing black political clout outside the South and the contradiction of fighting racist totalitarianism abroad while tolerating it at home set the stage for returning black veterans to spearhead the NAACP's postwar assault on the South's racial system.
This assault sparked not only vocal white resistance but mounting violence that culminated in the murder of young Emmett Till in 1955. Energized rather than intimidated, however, blacks in Montgomery staged the famous bus boycott, bringing the Rev. Martin Luther King to the fore and paving the way for the dramatic protests and confrontations that finally brought profound racial changes as well as two-party politics to the South. As he did in the prize-winning The Most Southern Place on Earth and Away Down South, Cobb writes with wit and grace, showing a thorough grasp of his native region. Exhaustively researched and brimming with original insights, The South and America Since World War II is indeed the definitive history of the postwar South and its changing role in national life.
"A most effective thesis on the evolution of race relations... [Cobb] handles complexities elegantly, injecting anecdotes of personal struggles of first-hand witnesses within the larger topics of Jim Crow and the civil rights movement...Cobb's research on the 20th century alone is worth reading, but his focus on where the South is now harbors this book's true value." —The Post and Courier
“Cobb's account of the tortured dismantling of racial discrimination in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s is a tale both heroic and disheartening, and even now gradually fading from historical consciousness. The author writes with an appropriate exasperation of the often violent and bizarre measure of obstruction and resistance - including the shameless subversion of law and order in parts of the Deep South, and determined passive resistance elsewhere.” —The Weekly Standard
“James C. Cobb is a don of Southern historians, and his The South and America Since World War II is impressive for its scope and sweep. No important event in the last 70 years escapes his eye.” —The Wilson Quarterly
“Masterful...Cobb, one of the South's leading historians, has produced a clear and compelling portrait of a tumultuous time, using race relations, economic development, and culture as three lenses through which to understand the contemporary South and its future.” —Foreign Affairs
“Highly recommended.”—Bowling Green Daily News
James C. Cobb
is B. Phinizy Spalding Distinguished Professor in the History of the American South at the University of Georgia.