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The Soiling of Old Glory: The Story of a Photograph That Shocked America Hardcover – April 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Press; First Edition edition (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596913649
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596913646
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,189,189 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Historian Masur (1831: Year of Eclipse) has written a gem of a book based on an iconic, Pulitzer Prize–winning photograph by Stanley Forman. Taken on April 5, 1976, at a Boston rally against forced school busing, it's a stark, frightening image of an angry white teenager brandishing an American flag at a well-dressed African-American man, apparently trying to impale him. Published on the front page of newspapers across the country, the photo crystallized the complex issues that enflamed Boston during the city's school busing crisis. Masur addresses the source of the picture's power on a multitude of levels, bringing uncommon wisdom and explanatory skills to his analysis of the collision of the Civil Rights movement, racism and community concerns about court-ordered busing programs. Masur is superb when deconstructing the photo, pointing out the elements of its composition that infused it with meaning, while at the same time asking provocative questions that illuminate how the interpretation of a photograph can affect our perception of an event. Equally compelling is Masur's discussion of the shifting and potent historical symbolism of the American flag, which stands at the metaphorical center of the photo. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

Contributing to memoirs from the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, Katzenbach combines personal anecdotes with reflections on the rule of law in the American federal system. A lawyer, Katzenbach held posts in the Department of Justice, including that of attorney general, which he resigned in 1966 to become an undersecretary at the State Department. History may little note his brief diplomatic career, but it recognizes his role as a primary advisor on civil rights to the Kennedy brothers and Lyndon Johnson. After recounting his recruitment into the new administration in 1961, Katzenbach relates the pressure particular campaigns of the civil rights movement brought to bear on the federal government. Integrating universities in Mississippi and Alabama, integrating public accommodations, protecting the Selma marchers, and gaining congressional passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965––Katzenbach played a crucial part in the federal government’s action in all these events. When added to his personal interactions with JFK, RFK, and LBJ, Katzenbach’s recollections constitute a significant new source for larger collections on the turbulent 1960s. --Gilbert Taylor

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By R. C Sheehy on April 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Louis Masur does an excellent job taking a single act of racism and hatred captured in one of the most shameful photographs in American history and shaping it into the proper context and providing the background which not only lead to the actual event, but was responsible for the deep feelings that the terrible action had not only on the American people but on people around the world. Mr. Masur gives a great background on the meaning of the flag in the American psyche but does a wonderful job of how very succinctly using other resources to explain the impact that busing had in Boston and how due to political mismanagement was the ultimate cause of this terrible racist act.

I also think Mr. Masur deserves credit for not beating up on the individual who committed this terrible act while at the same time not forgiving him for his act of racism caught forever. Mr. Masur does a great job of painting the picture of the news photographers whom he does not let off the hook very easily. All in all this is a well rounded and complete book much deeper then one might expect.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Frederick S. Goethel VINE VOICE on April 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone who was living in Boston in 1976 and had any interest in the news will remember this photograph all too well. It certainly shocked the City of Boston, and had reverberations around the world. Although the author states he cannot remember where he was when he first saw the photo, I can recall clearly where I was and what I was doing.

The author does a wonderful job of looking at all aspects of the photo, as well as what led up to the incident where the photo was taken. Included is analysis of what happened during the incident, who the players in the photo were, how they came to be where they were when the incident occurred, and probably most importantly, the back story of school bussing in Boston at that time. In addition, the author looks at how a city that is considered as progressive could be so racist in it's attitudes towards various ethnic groups.

Finally, after dissecting the photograph and the various players, the author looks at the reverberations caused by the picture and where the City is now on the issue. That, in many ways, was the most important aspect of the book.

The book is well written and contains all of the pertinent information needed to understand the issue of bussing and what caused these young men to be in City Hall Plaza at the time of the incident. It will certainly be a book of interest to historians and those with an interest in Boston's politics.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D. Novak on November 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Masur has put together a very comprehensive discussion of Stanley Forman's famous Pulitzer Prize-winning image from 1976 Boston, and creates an interesting balance among several relevant elements: the actual event we see (or think we see) in the photo; the forced busing fiasco that infuriated both blacks and whites at the time; controversies surrounding the proper and improper display/desecration of our flag; and a look at where the important players involved in the photo and controversy are today (Forman, Rakes, Landsmark, and others). The book is very well-illustrated and contains many other images taken by Forman on that day in 1976. I found the book fully engaging and impeccably researched, and would highly recommend it to serious students of both photojournalism and the history of racial unrest in America.
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