"His prose has the lucidity of mountain spring water, with a chilly undercurrent of sardonic contempt for Ku Kluxers and neo-nullificationists. In this fine prose, Ralph McGill has written a classic appreciation of what it is to belong with the heart to the modern South, however much one rebels with the head."
"He uses a quasi-autobiographical, quasi-reporting method instead of merely arguing, and the result is that he teaches rather than preaches. The lesson is a sound one: that the South is a mosaic, not a monolith—a part of America, a culture in the process of change."
In The South and the Southerner, originally published in 1963, McGill moves freely from personal anecdotes about his Tennessee upbringing and Vanderbilt education to reflections on the decline of the plantation economy and his hopes for racial justice. Scattered throughout are vividly rendered biographical vignettes of the South's diverse sons and daughters—figures ranging from demagogues like Mississippi's James Vardaman to Lucy Randolph Mason, the Virginia-born clergyman's daughter who became a tireless crusader for organized labor. Poignant and eloquent, the book remains a compelling meditation on southern identity and culture.
Read more about Ralph McGill at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.
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