Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Dixie Rising: How the South Is Shaping American Values, Politics, and Culture
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on December 15, 2004
Mr. Applebome is excellent in his writing (I am a writer myself, for whatever that's worth) and has a good eye for appearances and a facility for describing them well.

Having said that, I must add that his political prejudices stick out like sore thumbs. An earlier reviewer commented that Applebome "doesn't like Republicans." I'll add an amendment to that: He doesn't like white Southerners, unless they happen to share his northeastern liberal views. His attitude toward said white Southerners is smug and condescending in the extreme, i.e., he is often at great pains to describe in sniggering terms the hairstyles worn by white Southern males, and also how they dress. He seldom does this when describing Southern blacks, whom he sees as eternally downtrodden and put upon. Also notice that he often quotes Southern whites literally, being careful to include grammatical errors and "amusing" (read: ignorant) regionalisms. He does not do this with the speech of Southern blacks.

To sum up, he is a good writer, but he makes little attempt at any kind of objectivity or balance.
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on April 18, 1997
The title of the book states a portentous hypothesis at which the author makes a few stabs early on and then abandons. He seems unable to see anything Southern except through a prism of racial tension and conflict. What results is a series tedious vignettes having little to do with Southern influence on the rest of the Country's values, politics, and culture. A more apt title would have been: Things I Thought Were Somewhat Interesting About the South
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on February 15, 2016
Up to date to the mid 1990's this ought not to be ignored now but will be valuable especially to those who were born after the Civil Rights Movement had passed and who never heard of George Wallace. A reading of it will explain how the South has managed to expand it's cultural influence into wider America and with that stir and keep alive racism. This grass roots racism manifested itself in the recent killings at the Manuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. Nine good people were killed by a white racist who was simple doing the logical extension of what his Southern Culture raised him to do. If Southern Culture had been locked in step with 1861, but had accepted the defeat of it's legality and ideals, those nine innocent souls would be alive today.
So from racism to music to food to anti-unionism to hatred of the Federal Government, witnessed today by the Bundy refusal to pay required grazing fees (think wages or 'grazing slavery - something for nothing') and the Bundy land grab at the wildlife reserve in Oregon, we can see the extant of flawed Southern ideals hurting a cultured civilization.
This is a thought provoking work.
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on February 7, 2013
In a deft, nuanced and entertaining reading of American history, the author properly situates both the old and the new the South into the scheme of American History in general, and within the envelop of American Exceptionalism in particular.

His conclusion, after giving us a brief snapshot of key highpoints across the region, is that American Exceptionalisn, for better or worse (and mostly for worse), has become indistinguishable from "Southern Exceptionalism."

Quoting Egerton's equally entertaining book "The Americanization of Dixie," (see my Amazon review of that book also), the way the author puts it is that: "the South is not merely melting into the national stew but leading in the creation of a new one through a process in which the North and South are exchanging not strengths, but sins, exporting vices without importing virtues."

Likening the South's encroachment upon the rest of the nation to the spreading of a dangerous, virulent and infectious disease, the author concludes that the worse of the southern way of life like a cancer has metastasized and spread to all of the vital organs of the nation. In the mating dance between the North and the South, that has been going on since before the Civil War, reaching its apotheosis in the aftermath of Reconstruction, the South -- that self-described split-off nation that lost the Civil War, the so-called "Confederate States of America" -- has, through guile and deftly playing racist conservative politics, may have lost the shooting war, but has now finally and clearly won the cultural war.

Once the laughing stock of America, for being a virtual hellhole of poverty, ignorance, gun violence, vigilantism, depravity, political corruption, racism and a cesspool of pseudo religious nonsense, today, the North, instead of opposing or chastising the South for its degenerate behavior, now has finally linked arms with it through conservative politics to become the de fault carrier of a new kind of much bastardized form of American patriotism and American Exceptionalism. Altogether this new union of a United States of White America is a profoundly scary proposition!

The reason the South has won the cultural war when it could not win the fighting war, is that its conservative philosophy of pseudo family values, pseudo fundamentalist religiosity, pseudo patriotism, limited government, anti-abortion, pro-Israel foreign policy, Ayn Rand style capitalist greed, an intransigent stance against gays, and an unwritten vow to resist to the death any further social encroachments due to black social and political advancement, has resonated with a surprisingly large pool of like-minded Blue collar whites in the North and West.

Thus, the old racist themes of the post-Civil War South have now been refitted, updated and re-clothed as "Southern values version 2.0." They are now couched in the rhetoric of States Rights, lax gun controls, equating Israeli foreign policy with U.S. foreign policy, bigger and better jails with an express lane for the death penalty, reducing the Federal budget while increasing the defense budget to infinity, and fighting wars of choice around the globe.

This once "fringe ideology," in the form of the "Tea Party," now sits at the very center of what Republicans themselves have been calling "the Party of stupid," yet the Democrats, sit back watching the Party of stupid continue its forward march even in defeat, with stunned catatonic silence?

Add to this the fact that the South is no longer just the tail wagging the economic dog, but can now hold its own economically, and it would not be an exaggeration to suggest that we have a problem defining what kind of nation we really want to have for the foreseeable future. Many famous Historians, including the rabid racist and states rights defender, John C. Calhoun, Mark Twain and Socialist Historian, Howard Zinn, predicted as much. But so far, no one other than Calhoun saw this disease as an auspicious development. The Democratic Party with Barack Obama whistling Dixie as he tap dances past the political graveyard -- trying to build a legacy out of eight years of the "fairy dust" of hope and no change -- are just sitting back waiting for the next shoe to fall. Three stars.
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on July 1, 2002
This book was discovered in the bargain bin at a book outlet and after reading it I know why it was there. The author is a yankee who lived for a time in the South and now knows all about being Southern. It made for a good laugh everytime he used the term Neo-Confederates for Southerners who honored and celebrated their Confederate heritage.
The only thing he seems to understand about the South is how important Southern politics has become in America but this is not worth reading this book.
Save your time and money and pass on this one. I paid ...too much. One of the few books I tossed away.
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on July 18, 2001
Born and raised in New Orleans, I moved North to pursue my career. The culture up here wasn't what I expected, having been indoctrinated that the South had exclusive rights on racism and xenophobia.
But the North is clearly different than the South, especially the Deep South, and I've always had difficulty describing to Yankees just what those differences were and why they were so crucial to understand how Southerners think and why they do what they do. As an example, folks up here often wonder why the South seems so preoccupied with the Civil War; in many Southern hearts, the Civil Rights Movement of the early '60s was a continuation of that war of a century earlier, though in mind they deny such, even to themselves.
While reading this book, I was often startled to see some small observation so well describe my memories growing to a young adult there. In my opinion, Applebome has an excellent eye and is brilliant in his ability to not only discern but describe the little things that make the South what it is. He is able to spotlight what makes so much of its culture attractive to so many Americans, while turning over the rocks to show what lies beneath.
I left the South for reasons besides my career. For whatever cause, I often felt out of step with the prevailing culture. Perhaps I was born a "bleeding-heart Liberal", I've been called a "*** Lover", but for sure my views differed from many of those in my circle of family and friends. So perhaps my opinion of this book is tainted by a Yankee's disdain for the South, though where this Southern Boy got it is unclear.
Applebome seems less to judge than to describe, though some may take issue with his giving voice to certain issues; it's a Southern Tradition that "some things are best not spoken of". Those who dismiss this book as trite or superficial must, I suspect, never have lived in the South. Or they feel obliged to defend it's honor.
I've not recommended, but URGED, the reading of this book to all whom I've met who express an interest in leaving the North to live and work down South. Taking this book to heart, not as a condemnation or criticism, but as a roadmap and perhaps "cultural guidebook", will make their transition far easier with fewer long-remembered missteps.
If you've ever looked at Southern politics or politicians, or anything Southern, and wondered "What the Hell were they THINKING when they did that?", this is the book for you. And if you've heard such a thought expressed, and smiled quietly because it was obvious but hard to explain, this book will take you back home.
-gus
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on May 16, 2000
Through a dozen chapters, Peter Applebome journeys through the modern South, discussing how Southern values have become American values, and how Southern culture has become mainstream. Since the 1960s, the South's politics have come to dominate the nation, and themes that are prominent in the South's daily life have come to be accepted across the country. These themse include individualism, race as a subtext to daily life, religion as part of political life, opposition to gun control, support for the death penalty, liberalism as a dirty word, and states rights as a viable political theory. All of these describe the South, and in the 1990s, they describe the country as well. The region's influence has grown along with its population Applebome looks at all parts of the South, including suburban Cobb County, which he says has defined itself in opposition to Atlanta. Cobb's suburban strip malls are no different than those in any suburban setting in the country. Southern cities like Atlanta and Charlotte are among the nation's business centers. Applebome looks at other parts of the South, examining the state of race relations, the ghosts of labor uprisings, the plight of the rural South, and Southerners' nostalgia for a place that never existed. All in all, Applebome paints an accurate picture of the Modern South, and is generally successful as a journalist in showing that the modern South's contributions to the nation have been both positive and negative. The region has influenced the nation's politics and culture for good and for ill.
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on July 22, 1999
About what you would expect from a New York Times correspondent who has lived in Dallas and Atlanta (neither exactly the heart of the south). Doesn't like Republicans (has an odd tic of trashing Rush Limbaugh every 20 pages or so -- what does Rush have to do with the south?) and you can already guess the sarcastic asides about Newt Gingrich. A late entry Mencken Wannabe. Pass on this turkey and buy anything by John Shelton Reed or Lewis Grizzard.
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on January 8, 1998
Very readable personal essays and reflections on the paradigm shift to things southern. Author is somewhat condescending in his attitude, but I think he's coming around. :)
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on May 16, 2000
Through a dozen chapters, Peter Applebome journeys through the modern South, discussing how Southern values have become American values, and how Southern culture has become mainstream. Since the 1960s, the South's politics have come to dominate the nation, and themes that are prominent in the South's daily life have come to be accepted across the country. These themse include individualism, race as a subtext to daily life, religion as part of political life, opposition to gun control, support for the death penalty, liberalism as a dirty word, and states rights as a viable political theory. All of these describe the South, and in the 1990s, they describe the country as well. The region's influence has grown along with its population Applebome looks at all parts of the South, including suburban Cobb County, which he says has defined itself in opposition to Atlanta. Cobb's suburban strip malls are no different than those in any suburban setting in the country. Southern cities like Atlanta and Charlotte are among the nation's business centers. Applebome looks at other parts of the South, examining the state of race relations, the ghosts of labor uprisings, the plight of the rural South, and Southerners' nostalgia for a place that never existed. All in all, Applebome paints an accurate picture of the Modern South, and is generally successful as a journalist in showing that the modern South's contributions to the nation have been both positive and negative. The region has influenced the nation's politics and culture for good and for ill.
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