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In Search of Another Country: Mississippi and the Conservative Counterrevolution (Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America) Hardcover – April 1, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0691122090 ISBN-10: 0691122091

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Editorial Reviews


Winner of the 2008 Lillian Smith Book Award, Southern Regional Council
Winner of the 2007 McLemore Prize for the Best Mississippi History Book

"In his study of Mississippi, Crespino provides a challenging, comprehensive examination of white southerners confronting the modern Civil Rights Movement. While focusing on the actions, strategies, and beliefs from the Brown v. Board of Education decision to the rise of Ronald Reagan in 1980, Crespino successfully reevaluates the perspective of southern whites beyond the Ku Klux Klan and those espousing virulent racism."--J. Michael Bitzer, Choice

"In this important and engagingly written book historian Joseph Crespino has examined Mississippi's white population and has discovered more complexity, and much more change over time, than Phil Ochs [in his biting anthem, 'Here's to the State of Mississippi'] would have thought possible."--Bruce Nelson, Journal of Southern History

"Elucidating the connection between modern conservatives who avow racial equality and the southern segregationists who so strongly resisted it, . . . Crespino counters the facile historical claims of conservatives who identify their movement with the religious, nonviolent, and integrationist civil rights crusades of the 1950s and early 1960s."--Paul V. Murphy, American Historical Review

"Crespino navigates . . . with consummate skill, offering clear understandings of state and national politics and basing his linkages of the two fields on solid evidence. . . . In Search of Another Country is a stellar work of historical scholarship, powerfully researched, organized, and argued."--Peter N. Stearns, Journal of Social History

"In Search of Another Country is an excellent addition to the growing literature on the Republican counterrevolution in the American South. It is well researched and deftly argued. Although the layman might not appreciate its careful attention to detail, the specialist will. Indeed, it is a book that deserves a place on the shelf of every research library."--Barton C. Shaw, Journal of American Studies

From the Back Cover

In Search of Another Country represents a major advance in our understanding of the conservative counterrevolution that remade the American political landscape after the sixties. This book is the best retort to those who still see the civil rights movement in triumphalist terms. Elegantly written and meticulously researched, it could only have been written by someone with enormous respect for the complexity of the people of Mississippi, irrespective of where they stood in the fray."--Charles Payne, Duke University

"In this bold and thoughtful study, Joseph Crespino explains how the race-based Republican 'southern strategy' became part of a broader, truly 'American' appeal that swept across the nation in the aftermath of the civil rights movement."--James C. Cobb, author of Away Down South: A History of Southern Identity

"This is the most thoroughly researched and incisively interpreted account of one of the most complex social and political transitions ever to take place in any American state. No one is better equipped to write this book than this brilliant young historian, who out of his own personal observations growing up in Mississippi has captured with remarkable intuition and understanding the nuances of life in his native state. This is a must-read for anyone seeking a clearer understanding of the bitter struggles of the civil-rights movement and the political evolution that has followed."--William Winter, former Governor of Mississippi

"Crespino's study of the transformation of white Mississippi politics will instantly become the standard work in southern history and American political history in the late twentieth century because it does what many prominent southern historians have been calling for: it takes white opposition to the civil-rights movement seriously. Rather than viewing white Mississippians as an undifferentiated mass, Crespino shows divisions among segregationists based around competing strategies for preserving the racial order. For political historians who have sought to understand the rise of conservative Republicanism in the South, this book provides a thoroughly researched exploration of how the civil-rights struggle led whites to develop a nonracist discourse that sought to salvage what they could of white supremacy."--Daryl Michael Scott, Howard University

"Joe Crespino's marvelous book asks how white southerners responded to the moral and political challenges of the civil-rights movement. It traces the successful accommodation conservative white Mississippians made to the new world precipitated by the campaign for black civil rights, and then shows how that accommodation affected conservative politics in the region and in the nation. Crespino helps define a recent arc of scholarship dedicated to understanding, and not simply vilifying, civil-rights opponents. This is an important book and Mississippi is the right place to anchor this story."--Jane Dailey, coeditor of Jumpin' Jim Crow: Southern Politics from Civil War to Civil Rights


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Product Details

  • Series: Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America
  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (April 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691122091
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691122090
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,385,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By West Toward Home on December 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Joe Crespino's _In Search of Another Country: Mississippi and the Conservative Counterrevolution_ is concerned with understanding two phenomena--white southern resistance to the civil rights movement (as manifested in the state of Mississippi) and the resurgence of conservatism in the last two decades of the twentieth century--and the ways the two phenomena are linked. Existing scholarship has studied each of these issues, as Crespnio notes, and has offered hypotheses to explain the role of white conservative Mississippians in the national Republican triumphs of the 1980s, for instance. One such explanation (the southern strategy thesis) has held, to put it simply, that terms like "states' rights" became coded ways of invoking "segregation today...segregation tomorrow...segregation forever." But such a thesis ignores the complex ways that southerners earnestly initiated a suspicious stance toward a big federal government fueled by taxation and overinvolved in the lives of individuals.

Such suspicion was intimately linked, for instance, to "schools founded by Christian parents trying to provide a holistic religious orientation for their child's education" (13). It's not that religious schools didn't serve the purpose of segregating wealthier white kids from poorer black kids, but they did serve the purpose of educating white conservative children in a Christian context, a purpose white conservatives believed in and espoused whether they gave thought to the segregationist purposes or not. The point is not to defend conservative whites against racism, however, nor even to evaluate their motivations--but rather to understand the motivations in all their nuances.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Eric Hobart VINE VOICE on July 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In current historical scholarship, the rise of modern Conservatism is one of the "hot topics" that is being explored. Historians have evaluated the rise of Conservatism in the South previously (see Matthew Lassiter's book "The Silent Majority", for example), but I am unaware of other attempts to link the Civil Rights Movement and the rise of Modern Conservatism as Joseph Crespino has done in this fine work.

Crespino chose to evaluate Mississippi, which has historically been known as a bastion for inequality and the home of many Civil Rights activities, in the context of political change. He has done so quite skillfully; his arguments demonstrate that Civil Rights and Conservatism are (at least in Mississippi) inextricably linked.

I found the chapter on school integration/segregation and the fights with the IRS to be the most intriguing in the book - this demonstrates Crespino's ability to evaluate multiple sources (government regulations, tax law, and public education) and weave together a compelling narrative explaining how these are related.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in either the rise of modern Conservatism or the outgrowth of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lionel S. Taylor on September 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In his book In Search of Another Country, Joseph Crespino argues that the popular story of how the Republican Party took the South through the use of the "Southern Strategy" is incorrect. Rather it was many pragmatic segregationist reaching out to an influencing the Republican Party and encouraging it to align its views of conservatism with theirs which just happens to also be pro segregation under the guise of freedom of choice and anti communism. The author focuses on Mississippi and shows that the stereotypical rabid rebel flag waving racist that drew the attention of the media was not typical of this new conservative insurgence. Rather the movement was headed by more moderate segregationist that were willing to make concessions where they had too and resist where they had a chance of being successful.
The author covers this from several perspectives from the black church bombings that were denounced even by many pro segregation Mississippians as being too extreme, to school desegregation and the founding of the many all white academies that were having public funds funneled to them. While he does not totally reject the Southern Strategy theory, Crispino argues that it is much more nuanced than is commonly believed. I thought that the part on the efforts of president Nixon reaching out to angry southern Democrats was especially interesting.
I also found this book more than a little depressing. While one may argue about the methods used by pro-segregation forces, the goal was to maintain the racial caste system in Mississippi as much as possible and to some extent they succeeded by aligning conservative beliefs and the defense of white racial privilege. This was some thing that was achieved by political calculations on both sides.
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By Gail Conn on August 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It helps to try to understand the background of the ugly polarity in our nation's politics - I doubt it'll ever really be resolved but at least to understand something is a necessary and important first step.
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