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Encyclopedia of Southern Culture Hardcover – September 18, 1989

ISBN-13: 978-0807818237 ISBN-10: 0807818232 Edition: 1st

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Encyclopedia of Southern Culture + The Southerner's Handbook: A Guide to Living the Good Life
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1656 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (September 18, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807818232
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807818237
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.7 x 3.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #399,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The American South, it has been said, is the most European of the nation's sections in manner and outlook, distinct enough that it may be reckoned to have its own--slippery term--culture. Its literature, language, climate, economy, cuisine, and history are recognizably different from those of New England and the Midwest, and even today Southerners remember that their homeland was once an independent nation crushed by a foreign military power. These may be justifications enough to warrant this massive regional encyclopedia, although a few questions go a-begging. (What, for instance, would an encyclopedia of American culture writ large contain? Do the mountaineers of Tennessee share a culture with the Gullah-speaking farmers of the South Carolina coast? Just what does culture mean, anyway?) In any case, the editors have assembled a fine roster of contributors who write on sweeping topics--African American life, agriculture, literature, the "mythic South," and the like--elaborated on by short essays on narrower subjects. The book was rightly voted Best Reference Book of 1989 by the American Library Association.

From Library Journal

Defining the South as existing as a "state of mind both within and beyond its geographical boundaries," and culture as a series of "historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms," this monumental reference work analyzes in both broad strokes and minute detail all things southern. In some 24 sections every aspect of southern culture is explored, dissected, and described, from agriculture to women's life. Each section includes an overview essay, alphabetically arranged thematic articles, and brief topical/biographical sketches. All articles are signed, and the cast of contributors numbers in the hundreds. While the sections on literature and music are among the longest, there are excellent sections on black life, folk life, social class, violence, etc. Two of the most fascinating, "history and manners" and the "mythic south" discuss all things quintessentially southern--barbeque, chitterlings, fried chicken, mint juleps, and moon pies--or viewed as southern--good old boys and girls, moonlight-and-magnolias, and rednecks. Biographical sketches number 250 living and deceased and include a cross section of representative figures from Daniel Boone to Elvis Presley. A worthy complement to the Encyclopedia of Southern History (LJ 4/1/80), this is a stunning achievement in the field of regional reference works and bargain priced to boot.
- Brian E. Coutts, Western Kentucky Univ. Lib., Bowling Green
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Travis McGee on July 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been reading and looking things up in this huge 1600 page book since it first came out more than 20 years ago. I moved to Florida 50 years ago back when North Florida was still southern. This book is a must for anyone who wants to understand the distinctive culture of the South.

For example, when I first moved to Jacksonville in 1960, I remember hearing about "having an RC and a Moon Pie" for lunch. The encyclopedia will tell you all about that. Ralph McGill was the editor of the Atlanta Constitution 50 years ago and hated by many white southerners. This big book will tell you why.

Everything gets covered, from the "Lost Cause" to the epic literature of the South including William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Tom Wolfe and others. Music is not shorted, either, from the original blackface minstrel shows to the Grand Ole Opry; it's all there for your edification and enjoyment.

It's a pricey book, but I got a deal by purchasing a used one at Amazon.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Della Smith on November 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book. I enjoy hours of reading it. All of my childhood memories of growing up in Little Rock come back.

Being forced out of Arkansas to California to complete my education after Governor Faubus closed the schools, didn't dampen my view of the South.

I plan to buy all of the new subjects that have just been published by these publishers.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By P. B. Owen on October 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a wonderful, interesting look of the south and it's history and cultures.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Recently relocated in the deep south, much is foreign to me. This encyclopedia touches on everything southern and is most enlightening.
Fascinating reading.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kelly on April 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Right off the bat, you should know that this book is gigantic and can be cumbersome. (The book is a good 4 inches thick). I also expected to receive a colorful cover on the book like the one that is pictured, but got a plain grayish-green cover instead. Just be aware that you might not get the book that is pictured. Also the book is a LITERAL encyclopedia with a topic and a description next to it, like in the old Encyclopedia Britannica. I have other books that call themselves "encyclopedias" but their format is looser and more conversational in tone, and therefore seem more accessible to me. But, that being said, the entries I have read so far are fascinating and quite informative about the South! I purchased the book as a kind of writer's aid, and I believe it will work very well in that regard. Although I can't help but be a little disappointed by the way this book is formatted, I will certainly give it a chance. It's going to take me a long time to get through it, but I'm very sure I will enjoy the journey, as I love everything about the South!
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