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The Mind of the South Paperback – September 10, 1991

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; Vintage Books ed edition (September 10, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679736476
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679736479
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"No one, among the multitudes who have written about the South, has been more penetrating or more persuasive than Mr. Cash." -- The New York Times

"Wyatt-Brown's introduction is the sanest overview of The Mind of the South I've yet encountered. It points up the specific and real worth of this remarkable book." -- Louis D. Rubin, Jr.

"Sometimes insightful, sometimes infuriating, The Mind of the South is mandatory reading for anyone who would understand the region. Wyatt-Brown's brilliant introduction reveals the relevance of Cash and his book to our own times."

-- Charles Joyner, Burroughs Distinguished Professor of Southern History and Culture, University of South Carolina

From the Inside Flap

Ever since its publication in 1941, The Mind of the South has been recognized as a path-breaking work of scholarship and as a literary achievement of enormous eloquence and insight in its own right. From its investigation of the Southern class system to its pioneering assessments of the region's legacies of racism, religiosity, and romanticism, W. J. Cash's book defined the way in which millions of readers -- on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line -- would see the South for decades to come. This new, fiftieth-anniversary edition of The Mind of the South includes an incisive analysis of Cash himself and of his crucial place in the history of modern Southern letters.

Customer Reviews

This makes the book somewhat repetitive, as each era of history is essentially just a variation of the past.
Lee Scott
Having read this book years ago, I purchased another copy to see if I still thought it was as good as before.
Margie Read
The will to victory over the Yankee led to the development of the southern passion for politics and rhetoric.
Fan of Time-Life Books

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

118 of 132 people found the following review helpful By Art Chance on December 29, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For Boomer aged Southerners, there was no formal Southern history. At school you got Yankee cant; at home you got Lost Cause and Jim Crow. That doesn't fit the Chamber of Commerce image of cities too busy to hate, but that was the reality for all but the most miniscule minority of white Southerners. Through public school and college in The South, I never had a word from Southern thinkers with the minor exception of Faulkner - not much of a thinker, but a good describer.
Cash was my introduction to Southern intellectual history, and by the time I found him I was far from the South in both space and time. I can feel Cash in my very bones; a dose of Tom Watson populism, a dose of Mencken's cynicism, and a whole bunch of the self-loathing that a defeated and impoverished people wore like tattered old clothes every day. Some neo-Southerners call Cash a South-hater, but they miss the point; Cash wanted desperately to love The South, but could find little to love except myth. You get much the same with Woodward, though in finer clothes. "Strange Career" is nothing but myth, yet it propelled Woodward to the heights of the Academy. The key to both these books is that they are Yankee approved mythology. The publishing houses are not on Peachtree Street, they are on 5th Avenue. For anyone wishing to begin exploration of Southern thought, Cash, the Nashville Agrarians, and Strange Career are the places to start. If you go no further, you won't know anything about The South, but to go further, you must start here.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book was suggested to me by an American History professor 10 years ago. Just recently did I get around to reading it, however, and I must say that it is an impressive analysis of the white Southern mind-set leading up to the Civil War and through the Depression. I believe that many of the same thought processes hold true to this day particularly with all the controversy surrounding the Confederate flag and its inclusion in state flags (MS, SC, GA etc) in addition to the national shift of power to Southern conservatives in the Congress last decade. The book describes the political, religious, economic and social distinctions of the South in psychological terms and often in Jungian fashion showing opposites in existence together (i.e.- hedonism and refinement, morality and slavery/Jim Crow, etc). I have lived in the South most of my life and was glad to have 'rediscovered' this interesting book. Cash's writing style is difficult to follow at first- somewhat meandering and flowery (and intentionally humorous in some cases), but his insights are very modern and relevant in today's American society. ... Highly recommended.
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52 of 59 people found the following review helpful By john m. barry on May 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
I am the author of Rising Tide, another book about the South, and the greatest compliment paid to me so far was by someone who compared my book to this brilliant book. Cash's work is certainly one of the most insightful inquiries ever written about any region, any where, by anyone. Some of Samuel Johnson's work about his travels into the Scottish Highlands comes to mind as comparable, but I can't think of any other. In fact, the southerners Cash wrote about are often descended from that same stock.
Then of course there's the personal tragedy of the author's suicide. If you want to understand America, you have to read this book.
A good counterpoint to this is William Alexander Percy's Lantenrs on the Levee, published the same year and also still in print. Cash writes about rednecks; Percy writes about aristocrats, chiefly his own family who considered being called "Anglo-Saxon" an insult. They, after all, were descended from the Norman conquerors nof the Anglo-Saxons.
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94 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Jon L. Albee TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Since Reconstruction, works of Southern history and, in this case, sociology have usually fallen into two distinct genres. The first tends to reinforce the popular Old South mythology with exaggerated, romantic imagery as inspired by an emotional attachment to the "Lost Cause." The second is a reaction to the first. The revisionists, always irritated by the chauvinism of Southern popular mythology, want to convince you that Southern mythology is exactly that--a myth. The most violent of the revisionists will have you believe that romantic images of the Old South are fundamentally fictional--an image created by the Southern propagandists eager to create only the most flattering cultural portrait. For the record, THE MIND OF THE SOUTH falls more into the second category than the first. In fact, all of the works of Southern history and sociology that we now consider "classic" are more critical and revisionist than romantic. The non-fiction works of Cash, Odum, and C. Vann Woodward, and the fiction of Ellen Glasgow are all appreciated throughout the country for their critical views of what we call the Old South. It has become nearly equivalent in Southern studies to call a work both revisionist and worthy of praise. The ideas are, unfortunately, redundant. One's appreciation for things Southern all but negates one's credibility as a serious scholar. But the problem with extreme revisionism, and with the Cash work in particular, is that it has you believe that Southern mythology is SO fictional that it is nearly arbitrary. It wants you to believe that popular Southern imagery is a product of ignornace rather than careful consideration of the evidence. There is a difference between calling mythology an exaggeration, as the best works of William C.Read more ›
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