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How Free Is Free?: The Long Death of Jim Crow (The Nathan I. Huggins Lectures) Hardcover – March 29, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0674031524 ISBN-10: 0674031520 Edition: 1st

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How Free Is Free?: The Long Death of Jim Crow (The Nathan I. Huggins Lectures) + Give Me Liberty!: An American History (Seagull Third Edition)  (Vol. 2)
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Product Details

  • Series: The Nathan I. Huggins Lectures (Book 6)
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; 1 edition (February 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674031520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674031524
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 4.8 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this stunning examination of African-American life after slavery. Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Litwack recounts the physical brutality and crushing legal oppression of Jim Crow America. Drawing on African-American literature, poetry and blues music, as well as traditional archival and media records, the author details lynchings, segregation, denial of education and housing—and the dedication among African-Americans determined not to be treated as second-class citizens. The book pays special attention to the participation of black soldiers in America's wars and concludes with a look at race relations at the dawn of the new century: the legacy of the civil rights movement largely dismantled, the segregation formerly mandated by law replaced by a segregation just as deep driven by economics and tradition, and the voice of black dissent expressed through rap instead of blues. In the early twenty-first century, the author writes, it is a different America, and it is a familiar America; Jim Crow is long gone from our law books, but the struggle for equality continues. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

Litwack, a history professor, explores the journey of black Americans from slavery to equality, which is not yet completed and often plagued with recurring obstacles rooted in the past. He examines the complex period following Reconstruction and the rigidity of Jim Crow with separate but hardly equal accommodations. Successful blacks, presumed to have succeeded on their personal initiative, were often treated more harshly by whites than poor blacks. Litwack surmises that race discrimination without regard to class helped to form a parallel black society, from which sprang supportive institutions, including the NAACP. Litwack argues that the experience of blacks fighting wars of freedom formed the foundation of the modern civil rights movement. Yet, despite the success of this movement, the rigidity of the current resegregation along race and class lines, now justified by tradition, argues that blacks collectively have a long way to go. An interesting analysis of the dynamics of race and class and how they continue to affect progress. --Vernon Ford

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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4 star
14%
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Best exposition I've read on black civilian and black soldiers' reactions to World Wars I and II.
Arnie Tracey
Litwack has written a thoughtful, polemical book with the purpose of getting the reader to examine the questions the book raises afresh, free of preconceptions.
Robin Friedman
I bought this book for a history class, it is a must read, it should be required reading for all Americans.
Ireview

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The American historian Leon Litwack (b.1929) taught at the University of California, Berkeley from 1964 until his retirement in 2007. Litwack is best-known for his scathing critiques of segregation in the post-Civil War South in "Been in the Storm so Long: the Aftermath of Slavery" (1979), which received both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and its sequel, "Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow". (1998). A gifted teacher, Litwack writes in a provocative, challenging style which draws freely on popular culture as well as on political and economic history.

Litwack's most recent book, "How Free is Free: The Long Death of Jim Crow" (2009) consists of three lectures Litwack delivered at Harvard following his retirement as the "Nathan I. Huggins Lectures." Huggins (1927 -- 1989) was a distinguished professor of African American history at Harvard. In 1981, he established the W.E.B. DuBois Lecturship in Afro-American Life, History, and Culture.

In three short and lively essays drawn from the lectures, Litwack offers an overview of Jim Crow in the South and in the United States from the conclusion of the Civil War until today. Litwack argues that for all the real gains that African Americans have achieved, Jim Crow remains alive as evidenced by the continued segregation of American public schools, the disparity in economic status between blacks and whites, the substandard living conditions of many blacks, the expanding underclass, the high incarceration rates for black males, among other things. His book concludes with the observation that "Everything has changed, but nothin' has changed." (p.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tax Accountant on September 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Inside this slim volume is a terrifying story, more frightening than any horror novel. The terrifying part is that it's all true. How does one explain the ownership and debasement of a fellow human being?

The first chapter jumps right in, teaching me something new. Did you know that the original "reparations" (the word that jokingly gets tossed around by black comedians like Dave Chappell) were originally compensation that was to go to former slave-owners who had been deprived of their "property" after the civil war?

The entire book is chilling. But I had to stop numerous times because it was difficult to read. I cannot even post some of the quotes in this book, because they would be considered profanity by Amazon's review guidelines. Like this:

"The lynching of Mary Turner... eight months pregnant, a mob of several hundred hung her upside down from a tree. While she was still alive, someone used a knife to cut open the woman's abdomen. The infant fell to the ground, where it cried briefly. A member of the mob crushed the baby's head beneath his heel. Mary Turner was then hanged."

The sad thing is that we know that people are capable of these things, because even if these things aren't happening here, they are happening somewhere. People need to read this, so that we understand that our own humanity is so fragile and so precious. But you need a strong heart and a strong stomach. I don't even know what to say. I'm very upset, even while writing this.

I have to admit, I could not read through some parts. I had to stop.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ireview on September 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book for a history class, it is a must read, it should be required reading for all Americans. Powerful, easy to read book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This small book is more substantial than tomes 10 times its size.

Well researched. Brilliantly written.

Best exposition I've read on black civilian and black soldiers' reactions to World Wars I and II.

Without being trite about it, this book is like reading your father's journal, only to discover that he's really "Norman Bates." (Check Mr. Bates on Google, if you don't who he is.)
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