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Durham County: A History of Durham County, North Carolina Hardcover – 1990

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Jean Anderson’s Durham County is a monumental history in every way. A vast and impressive piece of work, it not only supersedes all previous efforts but will hold a proud and lasting place among county histories in North Carolina. The solid research, the encyclopedic coverage, the lavish detail, the lucid exposition will make the book a rich mine of information and a touchstone for further research for the next generation and beyond.” —Sydney Nathans, author of The Quest for Progress: The Way We Lived in North Carolina, 1870-1920 (praise for the first edition)


“Jean Bradley Anderson’s Durham County has long been the authoritative source for those seeking to learn more about the history of our community. The second edition brings the last two decades into sharp focus, providing a bridge between Durham’s recent post-industrial evolution and many of the themes Ms. Anderson covered so well in her original work. From the growth of Duke and Research Triangle Park to the economic inequities and hardships arising when tobacco and textiles receded, Anderson clearly connects many of the latest developments in Durham to the history that preceded them. This latest edition is a must-read for anyone who lives here, loves it here, or just wants to better understand our unique community.”—Kevin Davis, editor of the blog Bull City Rising


“Splendidly comprehensive and carefully researched, this book is unusual among county histories that I know in its sophisticated attention to national context and its sensitivity to all segments of the population. A superb book.” —Robert Durden, author of The Dukes of Durham, 1865-1929 (praise for the first edition)


“The first edition of Jean Bradley Anderson’s Durham County, published in 1990, set the standard for excellence in local history, and the wait for her new edition has been richly rewarded. With meticulous research and insightful writing, the original has proven a singularly invaluable source for both researchers and general readers interested in Durham, city and county. This new edition carries the reader ahead with the same depth and precision, through two more transformative decades, adding context and import to the past while capturing Durham’s cosmopolitan place in the twenty-first century. Anderson closes with a somber but accurate and insightful assessment of the county, leaving the reader challenged as well as informed.”—Jim Wise, author of Durham Tales: The Morris Street Maple, the Plastic Cow, the Durham Day That Was & More


Durham County deserves the widest possible readership. It offers an engaging perspective on familiar New South themes and an object lesson in bridging the enormous gulf that too often separates academic historians and lay readers.”
(James L. Leloudis The Journal of Southern History)

“Destined to be the definitive history of Durham County for years to come.”
(North Carolina Libraries)

“Originally published in 1990 and now reissued as a revised and expanded second edition, Durham County: A History of Durham County, North Carolina, is local history in the best sense: it offers an intensive and comprehensive focus on a single place and its varied people and institutions over time. The second edition includes a new final chapter that brings Durham’s story up-to-date in the twenty-first century, as the county moved further away from its tobacco roots into a revitalizing economy based on health care, medical research, and technology.... The extensive notes and bibliography are a treasure trove of local sources, and the updated appendix tallying population statistics and listing local officeholders of all sorts will be a handy reference for researchers.”
(Journal of Southern History) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

“Jean Anderson’s Durham County is a monumental history in every way. A vast and impressive piece of work, which not only supersedes all previous efforts but which will hold a proud and lasting place among other county histories in North Carolina. The solid research, the encyclopedic coverage, the lavish detail, the lucid exposition, will make the book a rich mine of information and a touchstone for further research about the next generation and beyond.”—Sydney Nathans, author of The Quest for Progress: The Way We Lived in North Carolina
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 628 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press (1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822310562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822310563
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 7.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,163,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Ms Anderson has done a wonderful job of weaving the threads of geography, politics, economics, history, religion, etc. into a solid cloth of Durham county history.

This book was well researched and has extensive end-notes that add a treasure trove of information additional to the text body. (In fact, my only negative critical comment about this book is that the author used end-notes instead of footnotes, causing one to either ignore the end-notes for later or risk carpal tunnel from flipping back and forth!)

Ms. Anderson delves into the social and economic complexities behind Durham's prosperity and its poverty -- which often shared time and space -- and she manages to humanize the complicated personalities who so greatly influenced the city's growth. The Dukes, Carrs, Mangums, etc. are well known to have been the driving business forces behind the tobacco and mill industries that made Durham prosperous, but it is refreshing to learn something of their personalities and their struggles.

Anyone who grew up in Durham knows what a huge contribution black business leaders made to the economic success of the area. This is the only book where I have seen the subject treated as a integral portion of the area's history and culture, and not something set apart from all other events and influences, outside the "white" history.

There are some wonderful photographs of historical buildings and people - both influential and "just plain folks".

Every historical account has dry patches. I found two of them (albeit small) to be at the time frame around 1920-1940. I urge the reader to work through this as the information there is important to understanding the material that follows.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By LaurenH on January 26, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jean Bradley Anderson does her research, and this book is an excellent showcase of her love of the area and talent as a researcher. This is THE go-to book for looking into Durham County's history. I've done my own research into the history of Durham, and this is the first book I go to when I need to look for information.

The early history of Durham County (and the surrounding counties, since it's difficult to isolate just Durham County that far back) is captured very well, and it's difficult to find such a good history of this time period in another, single book. You can get more information that is in-depth through other sources, but those sources are more targeted in their focus, like just exploring the history of a particular farm/town or person.

If you want to see just how thorough the author's research was, look to the endnotes. The other reviewer expresses a wish for them to have been footnotes, but I'm really glad that they're endnotes instead; turning all of the endnotes into footnotes would make the pages virtually unreadable and cluttered. The variety and depth of sources that the author used were extensive and authoritative. Many of the sources are only available as physical items, not electronic, in archives in the area. This book brings together the wealth of information from those archives into an easy-to-access form.

I really like that the chapters are divided into time periods, and within those time periods, there are sections that focus on different aspects, like "Religion," "Education," and "The Tobacco Industry." If I'm only interested in a particular topic, like education during the 1870s, it's very easy to find the pages that discuss it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book starts with the early history of the area of Orange County NC which was incorporated into Durham County. There are almost 200 pages dealing with the history of pre-1900 history which is great. The book has almost 600 pages of great information.
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