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James Meredith and the Ole Miss Riot: A Soldier's Story Hardcover – August 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"Henry Gallagher has given us a valuable new perspective on the 1962 Ole Miss crisis--an extraordinary tale of how men, unrelated to the drama yet committed to duty, found their way to Oxford to help break the siege at the Lyceum and to provide protection for the school's first black student."

--Curtis Wilkie, author of The Fall of the House of Zeus

"An army unit sent to quell a riot with all they need but a map to find the place, so a rookie lieutenant kidnaps a Navy seaman to guide them--it reads like fiction, but it's all true, and Henry Gallagher tells it as only someone who was part of it could. A well-researched and fascinating new take on one of the turning points in the civil rights movement which makes for a very good read."

-- Bob Schieffer, CBS News

"Henry Gallagher was one of the key players in an astonishing moment in U.S. history. . . . In this electrifying narrative, he gives us a vivid glimpse of the courage of a brother American soldier, the remarkable crusader James Meredith."

--William Doyle, author of An American Insurrection

From the Inside Flap

A first-person account of the turbulent times of the Oxford riot by a solider who guarded James Meredith when he integrated Ole Miss

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi (August 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1617036536
  • ISBN-13: 978-1617036538
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #550,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Norma Watkins on September 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I lived through the time Henry Gallagher writes about in James Meredith and The Ole Miss Riot. For us, 150 miles south in Jackson, the story ended when Meredith enrolled and Oxford was made peaceful by federal troops. Governor Ross Barnett flew the flag at half-staff to protest this invasion of our state.
Gallagher writes a soldier's story (his sub-title) from a very different point of view. What was it like to be one of those federal soldiers, sent to occupy a town and a university in your own country? He tells it like a military man--"Camp Drum, New York, Summer 1962"--and takes the reader through the events before, during and after the invasion.
Gallagher was from Minnesota; he served in an integrated Army, and he had never experienced the racial tension he found in Oxford--the open hatred in the eyes of pretty coeds, or the hateful language of fraternity boys.
He was made chief of the military guard that protected James Meredith that first semester, following him in a jeep from class to class, until Meredith complained, then devising clever ways to keep him in sight while appearing not to--involving apparently malingering soldiers and broken vehicles.
Gallagher tells the story with the wonder and confusion he felt at the time. He lets you see the integrity of an army unit--sent by the President to do a job, and bringing a village with them. He was one man in a unit that set up and efficiently implemented an assignment--strangers in a small southern town.
I was glad they were there.
Read A Soldier's Story. It's one not many of us in Mississippi knew.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Goose on January 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you did not happen to spend time in America's Deep South in the early sixties, you will find this book eye-opening. Few of us who grew up in the north (I'm from MN) had any idea what the "Southern Way" was about. I was in the Navy in FL, 1959-61, but had little time to spend with the locals. We were not part of their community, thus we did not understand the racial high ground business. We simply abided by the rules of segregation. No questions asked.

And that's of great importance in this book: The shock at finding out what we did NOT know. The author's vivid, memorable descriptions are provoking and will make many of you think back to your personal knowledge, or lack of it. Quite simply, our Yankee perceptions of The South were not correct. Discrimination was a fact of life; a great number of our fellow Americans did NOT believe that blacks were morally equal, so they should not be allowed to seek education as they wished. To have that reality slammed on a jeep full of Yankees one dark night in Oxford MS was extreme. The confusion, doubt, nagging questions of "the need" to be there and, of course, personal concerns: "Am I gonna get shot at? Am I gonna be too scared to do things right? Will I, do I dare, confront another American, etc.) are described flawlessly by the author.

Mr. Gallagher's ability to spin the "yarn", from the first boring days in Ft Dix, NJ to the travel and arrival at Ol' Miss (to be met there by a hail of rocks, thrown by fellow Americans) to the day-by-day sameness of acting as James Meredith's safety shield/body guard/escort service is about as perfect as one could ask for. Everything is defined so the reader has no doubt as to what, where, why and how things were to be done.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By The Prissy Snob on February 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
"People are dying in Oxford," the president said in an urgent message to the military. This is the worst thing I have seen in forty-five years."

September 1962, James Meredith became the first African-American to be admitted to the University of Mississippi. Three thousand whites from all over the south descended on the small town of Oxford for this event causing an insurrection. The United States Army was deployed to make sure this US citizen could attend a public university in peace.

For Gallagher and the thousands of soldiers that prepare to accompany him to Oxford, MS, they are on what simply seems to be another routine military operation. The magnitude of the mission is felt when all African-American soldiers are asked to fall out of the convoy headed from Memphis, TN to Oxford, MS. The African-American soldiers are initially removed from the operation because there are snipers among the rioters and the Army is frightened that these soldiers will be targeted immediately. One African-American soldier accompanying another unit already on the ground in Oxford was blasted in the face with a fire extinguisher by a student while a Mississippi Highway Patrolman stood by grinning. The Army will soon find out that the loyalties of local law enforcement are uncertain. The man that they are going to protect and whose actions has set forth this insurrection is oblivious to what is occurring while he sits in his dorm room. Twenty thousand soldiers were mobilized because of this one man which shows how determined the South is to hold traditions. Gallagher describes their hate as palpable.

"He was his own movement (by his own choosing). A bit of an odd character, but maybe one has to be so to do what he did.
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