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The Burden of Southern History Paperback – August 1, 2008

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0807133804 ISBN-10: 0807133809 Edition: 3rd

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

C. Vann Woodward (1908-1999) was Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University, where he taught from 1961 until 1977. One of the leading historians of the century, Woodward wrote several books about the American South, his main field of interest. He edited Mary Chesnut's Civil War, for which he received the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for history. His other major works include Tom Watson: Agrarian Rebel; American Counterpoint; The Strange Career of Jim Crow; Reunion and Reaction; Thinking Back: The Perils of Writing History; and Origins of the New South, 1877-1913, for which he received the Bancroft Prize. He served as president of the Southern Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the American Historical Association, and was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

William E. Leuchtenburg is William Rand Kenan, Jr., Professor Emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author of more than a doezen books on twentieth-century American history, including The White House Looks South: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press; 3rd edition (August 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807133809
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807133804
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #445,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. Smallridge on March 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of essays on the South. I've read all of Woodward's major works and this rates as one of the best because, throughout, you can see his engagement intellectually with difficult theories and histories. The sections where he engages "the ironies of Southern history" are fascinating because he completely challenges the American myth of success in global affairs. His addendum on the aftermath of the Vietnam War is timely as well.

His sections on William Faulkner, John Brown, Southern identity, Populism, and Reconstruction are first rate and describe histories as concisely as anything in print. His also goes into some of these issues very well in "The Origins of the New South." I cared less for the chapter on Robert Penn Warren because I don't think much of his work has aged well and the chapter on the Guilded Age is less coherent.

In sum, this is an important part of Woodward's canon and speaks very well to his importance as a thinker.
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful By bjcefola on April 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a collection of essays on then contemporary southern culture and history. The essays generally deal with the transformation then taking place- the end of segregation, the civil rights movement, and surging population and industrial development.

The essays have a sentimental quality I don't find in more modern writings. They are short in the quality of thesis ('Southern Identity lies in a common memory', 'The country made ambiguous moves towards racial equality during the civil War and reconstruction' but is long in the quality of its prose. It's not a bad read, even if there is little new. Of course, you shouldn't be reading books from 1960 for new material in the first place.

So what was Woodward trying to tell his audience? I saw two themes. To the south he seemed to be asking people to let go of segregation as another lost cause. He doesn't condemn it in moral tones, but rather that fighting for it against the tide of history was futile and self destructive. To the north he asked for patience, pointing out that virulent racism persisted in the north well after the civil war. So the theme was getting people to deal peacefully with the concept of racial equality.

While most of the essays stuck to this theme, the last two essays stuck out.

'The Populist Heritage and the Intellectual' is an analysis of criticism of the populist movement by then contemporary historians. I've never heard the term Populist used in anything other then a derogatory fashion, Woodward suggests there is a lot more to it then that. Woodward suggests populism was an agrarian protest movement that failed to find intellectual support, and was consequently pilloried. He cites it as the one movement that sought to bring back civil rights to the south in the 1890's.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Kevin M. Derby VINE VOICE on May 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
C. Vann Woodward was a fine historian with liberal sentiments when it came to race while still loving his native South. "The Burden of Southern History" is a collection of his essays that has now gone through numerous editions. Woodward is sometimes excellent ("The Irony of Southern History" is perhaps the finest essay in this collection) but some of his pieces are flat. Woodward is good on the works of Robert Penn Warren and on how three Northern writers viewed the South in the Gilded Age. His piece on the reaction to John Brown's raid and changes in the South in the aftermath of Bill Clinton's victory in 1992 are not up to the same level of quality. Nonetheless, this is a fine collection from a humane spirit and a good writer.
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