The American South in the Twentieth Century

Edited by Craig S. Pascoe, Karen Trahan Leathem, and Andy Ambrose

A multifaceted look at a region defined by continuity and change


"There is a real need for a volume that sums up the state of the south at the beginning of the twenty-first century, and this book provides that service. The American South in the Twentieth Century offers readers concise, thoughtful, informed evaluations of different aspects of the south's convoluted and sometimes counterintuitive history during a century that wrought very significant changes in the region. This book is a significant contribution to southern history."
—John B. Boles, editor of Shapers of Southern History: Autobiographical Reflections

"A wonderful collection of essays that will appeal to a broad audience of readers."
—Don Doyle, author of Nations Divided: America, Italy, and the Southern Question

"Outstanding essays . . . A thoughtful survey of recent southern history. Painted in broad strokes, this compilation is recommended not only for students of southern history, but for readers interested in regional studies, as well as in cultural identity and change. However, those interested in more specific topics—race, education, women's studies, sports, music—will also find much in this collection to appreciate."
Louisiana History

"Adeptly weaves interconnected histories into the larger regional and national narratives . . . As the United States moves, arguably, toward a national culture, distinct regions and cultures undergo identity crises. The South is no exception. Therefore, southern historians must keep abreast of the shifting themes in the field. The American South in the Twentieth Century is an essential tool in that endeavor."
North Carolina Historical Review

"Few other current works present such a comprehensive collection of leading historical scholarship on the South, so for those who want a good overview of the best current work in southern history, this book is indispensable."
Alabama Review

"[A] remarkable collection of essays . . . Accessibly written . . . Undergraduates will appreciate the accessibility of the essays. General audiences will enjoy the breadth of topics and the lack of daunting academic folderol. . . . The American South in the Twentieth Century serves as a useful and elegant reminder of the fascinating, vibrant century just past while at the same time providing a useful reminder that the south is still changing even as its historiography does as well."
History: Reviews of New Books

"An engaging read . . . The American South in the Twentieth Century will appeal to a diverse group of readers."
Spartanburg Herald-Journal

"Taken as a whole, the pieces are thoughtful, illuminating, and engaging, covering hot topics in history, politics, literature, and religion. . . . Several essays, however, rise above the rest in either the new (at least to me) way in which they approach a topic or in their combination of excellent scholarship—a trait all the essays share—with an elevated level of style and composition."
Southern Arts Journal

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In the South today, the sight of a Latina in a NASCAR T-shirt behind the register at an Asian grocery would hardly draw a second glance. That scenario, and our likely reaction to it, surely signals something important--but what? Here some of the region’s most respected and readable observers look across the past century to help us take stock of where the South is now and where it may be headed.

Reflecting the writers’ deep interests in southern history, politics, literature, religion, and other matters, the essays engage in new ways some timeless concerns about the region: How has the South changed--or not changed? Has the South as a distinct region disappeared, or has it absorbed the many forces of change and still retained its cultural and social distinctiveness?

Although the essays touch on an engaging diversity of topics including the USDA’s crop spraying policies, Tom Wolfe’s novel A Man in Full, and collegiate women’s soccer, they ultimately cluster around a common set of themes. These include race, segregation and the fall of Jim Crow, gender, cultural distinctiveness and identity, modernization, education, and urbanization. Mindful of the South’s reputation for insularity, the essays also gauge the impact of federal assistance, relocated industries, immigration, and other outside influences.

As one contributor writes, and as all would acknowledge, those who undertake a project like this “should bear in mind that they are tracking a target moving constantly but often erratically.” The rewards of pondering a place as elusive, complex, and contradictory as the American South are on full display here.

Published in association with the Atlanta History Center

Page count: 336 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $30.95

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Craig S. Pascoe is editor of Atlanta History: A Journal of Georgia and the South and an assistant professor of history at Georgia College and State University. Karen Trahan Leathem is a historian at the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans. Andy Ambrose is a historian of the South, the author of two books on the history of Atlanta, and Executive Director of the Tubman African American Museum in Macon, Georgia.