The southern town of St. Andrews is divided. White residents occupy the bluff overlooking the river; black residents live on the other side of the river, in Cottondale. For 200 years the black and white halves of St. Andrews have coexisted, but now the black townspeople want to put up a slavery museum on the sight of an old slave market in Cottondale--a move the majority of white residents opposes. Caught in the middle is Walker Fann, a mid-level editor at his father's newspaper, which opposes the museum. When Walker is reunited with his old high school friend Raymond Justus, one of the African Americans backing the museum, he is forced to make a choice.
Howard Owen, himself the editor of a southern newspaper, was born and raised in North Carolina and writes authoritatively about the issues that confront today's Southerners, black and white alike. In The Measured Man he explores the conflict of history, tradition, and conscience in a story both satisfying and thought-provoking.
From Publishers Weekly
In a fit of pique over a blown softball game, Walker Fann, publisher of a small North Carolina newspaper, tosses aside his cherished baseball glove, only to cry theft when he sees a black youth running away with it. The kid turns out to be Carneal Justus, 13, the son of Raymond Justus, with whom Walker shared a high-school championship football season. At Raymond's insistence, Carneal must work off his alleged misdeed by doing yardwork for the Fanns. Walker's involuntary penance involves listening to his boyhood friend detail the difficult path his life has taken since their moment of youthful triumph. Meanwhile, a referendum on whether to fund a proposed local slavery museum exacerbates racial tensions in the community, which is half black, half white, and presents Walker with a moral dilemma as he must decide what position the newspaper should take. "Isn't there anything I can do to make it right?" Walker asks Raymond, a question that reverberates throughout this dead-on indictment of the damning effects of selective justice and selective charity. Owen's (Littlejohn) achievement here is in provoking without soapboxing. He invites readers to hold up a yardstick to their own lives to calculate how far their adult behavior has strayed from the idealism of their youth.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.