U. of Georgia Press
Camille, 1969; histories of a hurricane.
Hurricane Camille hit the coast of southern Mississippi in 1969, demonstrating well before Hurricane Katrina that the region's natural disaster response and recovery are greatly affected by race and class. Smith (history, U. of South Carolina) examines the political and racial contexts of Camille in three Lamar Memorial Lectures originally delivered at Mercer University in October 2009. The essays reflect on the man-made disaster of racial injustice and what we can learn from Camille about future disaster recovery planning. Smith, as a historian of the senses (and author of Sensing the Past: Seeing, Hearing, Smelling, Tasting, and Touching in History), takes a special interest in the sensory experience of Camille as a reminder to Southern residents that humans are not masters of the natural world. In particular, he looks at how social protocols concerning touch in a racially segregated society broke down in the storm's aftermath. B&w historical photos illustrate the storm's devastation. (Annotation ©2011 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)
Flashes of a southern spirit; meanings of the spirit in the U.S. South.
From a collection of previously published essays on the American South's cultural history, Wilson (Southern studies, U. of Mississippi) elaborates and discusses what encompasses "southern spirit." He argues that spirit in the South is both constructed and performed, and can be found in politics, patriotism and religion. He examines more deeply literature, music, folk heroes, politicians, religious leaders and policy makers. Included are writings by William Faulkner and Richard Wright, the music of Elvis Presley, and lesser known, but still influential and expressive artists such as McKendree Long. To Wilson, the South is spiritually rich, but neglected analytically, and a closer examination of the cultural interaction of Blacks and whites in the region will bring that spirituality to light. (Annotation ©2011 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)
The invention of ecocide; agent orange, Vietnam, and the scientists who changed the way we think about the environment.
In 1970, American scientists gained access to areas in Vietnam that were sprayed with Agent Orange by the American military, confirming that a major ecological disaster had occurred. Their findings convinced the US government to renounce the use of herbicides in future wars. This book traces the movement to ban the use of Agent Orange and other herbicides in warfare, drawing on interviews, archival collections, and recently declassified national security documents. Zierler, a historian for the US Department of State, uses Agent Orange as a case study of the relationship between ecological issues and international relations, within the context of the rise of a global environmental consciousness. The book is written as a chronological narrative, with science explanations given in plain language accessible to general readers. (Annotation ©2011 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)
Jimmy Carter, the politics of family, and the rise of the religious right.
Flippen (history, Southeastern Oklahoma State U.) argues that it is no coincidence that the Carter years witnessed the formation of the most prominent religious right organizations. He claims that by acknowledging certain behaviors as sinful while simultaneously insisting that they were private matters beyond government interference, Carter, a born-again Christian, unintentionally alienated both social liberals and conservative Christians, which triggered the resurgence of the debate over moral 'family issues' in public and political life. He describes how professional conservative strategists sought to lure religious conservatives to the Republican Party. (Annotation ©2011 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)
"My work is that of conservation"; an environmental biography of George Washington Carver.
George Washington Carver (1864-1943) is well-known for his work on developing uses for the peanut. Hersey (history, Mississippi State U.) reveals aspects of his work which have been forgotten. He uses Carver's life story to explore aspects of Southern environmental history and to place Carver in the early conservation movement. The book traces Carver's agricultural and environmental thought, starting with his childhood in Missouri and Kansas and his education at the Iowa Agricultural College, and details how Carver's environmental vision was developed at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where his Midwest training and vision contrasted sharply with the wasteful agricultural practices, deep poverty, and institutional racism of the deep South. The author shows that in the hands of pioneers like Carver, progressive era agronomy was actually 'greener' than is often thought today. (Annotation ©2011 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)
We are the revolutionists; German-speaking immigrants & American abolitionists after 1848.
Lucidly written, with a focus on the human story, this fascinating volume tells the story of the fight to abolish slavery in the U.S. with a new perspective: the active role played by radical democrats from Germany, who had immigrated to America after the war of 1848, and went on to fight alongside abolitionists to spread their ideals that all should be free. The chapters feature detailed accounts of individuals active in Texas, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and Boston, illuminating the people and events of the abolitionist movement in each place. Honeck's (Heidleberg Center for American Studies, Germany) engaging narrative never loses its pace, despite the extensive primary sources incorporated into the text. (Annotation ©2011 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)
Writing the South through the self; explorations in southern autobiography.
Inscoe (history, U. of Georgia) draws from a course he taught on "Southern Autobiography as Southern History" at the U. of Georgia that used autobiography and memoir to explore the southern experience and show students how individuals' accounts of their lives can serve as important historical sources. He culls his lectures, discussions, and feedback from students for essays that discuss these stories, how they uniquely view life in terms of place, and how they can be used to explore race and ethnicity, class, kinship, community, education, gender, and politics. He discusses works by Maya Angelou, Rick Bragg, Jimmy Carter, Bessie and Sadie Delaney, Willie Morris, Pauli Murray, Lillian Smith, Thomas Wolfe, William Styron, Zora Neale Hurston, and other writers and their experiences with miscegenation, racial oppression and harassment, poverty, segregated rail travel, college education, and the Appalachian view of home, ending with an overview of works by Native Americans, Asians, and Latinos from the South. (Annotation ©2011 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)