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White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism (Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America)

24 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691133867
ISBN-10: 0691133867
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Editorial Reviews


Ronald Brownstein, "American Prospect" American Prospect : In White Flight, a study of white resistance to desegregation in Atlanta, Kruse produces a panoramic and engaging portrayal of the struggle over desegregation.

Jeff Roche, "Journal of American History" Journal of American History : An ambitious, well-researched, and interesting study, White Flight offers a provocative examination of the connections between race and conservative politics.

Jonathan Tilove, "Times-Picayune" Times-Picayune : Kruse presents a nuanced portrayal of the trends that fostered the growth of the suburbs and the casting aside of racist demagoguery.

R. Claire Snyder, "New Political Science" New Political Science : White Flight provides a detailed yet fascinating history of right-wing backlash against the civil rights movement that has relevance not only for historians but also for political scientists. Kevin Kruse's study deserves a wide reading.

Kristen O'Hare, "Urban History Review" Urban History Review : In his book, Kevin Kruse analyzes the ideology accompanying white flight and its ongoing impact on American politics. . . . In a beautifully written, clearly structured, and deeply researched narrative, Kruse lays out the historical processes that led to the development of modern conservatism.

Clay Risen, "Nashville Scene" Nashville Scene : Kruse's ultimate success lies in using history to answer contemporary political questions, and without compromising his professional standards.

From the Back Cover

"In his study of Atlanta over the last 60 years, Kevin Kruse convincingly describes the critical connections between race, Sun Belt suburbanization, the rise of the new Republican majority. White Flight is a powerful and compelling book that should be read by anyone interested in modern American politics and post-World War II urban history."--Dan Carter, University of South Carolina

"White Flight is a myth-shattering book. Focusing on the city that prided itself as 'too busy to hate,' Kevin Kruse reveals the everyday ways that middle-class whites in Atlanta resisted civil rights, withdrew from the public sphere, and in the process fashioned a new, grassroots, suburban-based conservatism. This important book has national implications for our thinking about the links between race, suburbanization, and the rise of the New Right."--Thomas J. Sugrue, Kahn Professor of History and Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, author of The Origins of the Urban Crisis

"This is an imaginative work that ably treats an important subject. Kruse gets beyond and beneath Atlanta's image as a place of racial moderation, the national center of the civil rights movement, and a seedbed of black political power to reveal other simultaneous, important currents at work."--Clifford Kuhn, Georgia State University

"Kevin Kruse recasts our understanding of the conservative resistance to the civil rights movement. Shifting the spotlight from racial extremists to ordinary white urban dwellers, he shows that "white flight" to the suburbs was among the most powerful social movements of our time. That movement not only reconfigured the urban landscape, it also transformed political ideology, laying the groundwork for the rise of the New Right and undermining the commitment of white Americans to the common good. No one can read this book and come away believing that the politics of suburbia are colorblind."--Jacquelyn Hall, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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Product Details

  • Series: Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (July 29, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691133867
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691133867
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Sandro Vitaglione on December 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I'm not from Georgia and I'm not a history guy, but I found this book fascinating. The "editorial review" provided by Amazon does a fine job describing the book, so I'll just give a few of my impressions. The book is well written and easy to read (which don't always go hand in hand - see James, Henry). I found myself not only learning about Atlanta but also better understanding the phenomenon of white flight in general. This book has really opened my eyes to the issues of the city versus the suburbs; I can see now that many of the struggles of the '50s and '60s are still continuing today, if in slightly different forms.

Don't let the title of this book mislead you; this is not a 350-page rant about how evil conservatives are. In fact, I was surprised at how often the "good guys" in the integration struggle, such as Mayor Hartsfield and his coalition of business elites, were motivated not by a sense of social justice but by capitalism: many of the so-called city fathers were just as loathe to integrate as the segregationists, but the image of Atlanta as a fully integrated city was just too lucrative for their businesses and the city's economy. The book is blessedly free of sermonizing, as the author simply recounts what took place and shows how those events have influenced the world we live in, both political and physical. Value judgments are largely left to the reader.

One last thing. When I think of all the material covered in this book, from violent flashpoints to school board meetings to segregationist poetry to newspaper advertisements, I can't believe I wasn't bored out of my mind - this stuff usually isn't my cup of tea. But instead of bogging it down, the author used the excruciating level of detail to breath life into the story, animating the people and events in a way that made me feel connected to them. Regardless of your ideology, I think you will find yourself entertained and enlightened by this book.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By John Pijanowski on October 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book is incredibly well researched, insightful, and an incredibly engaging read. I don't often read historical books but I did enjoy David McCullough's "Truman" and "John Adams" and found this book equally well written and often times more interesting. The author, Kevin Kruse doesn't just tell you about the politics of the time but draws you in to the people who made history. Like characters in a novel I found myself invested in them and looking forward to the next page. I have no connection to Atlanta, but that doesn't matter because this is an American story more than just an Atlanta story and is strikingly relevant today for anyone interested in how modern conservatism came to be. Particularly compelling was Kruse's telling of how rural and urban voters were manipulated, and the politics of racism were balanced with uneasy alliances between black and white community leaders. From the start the author reframes the discussion away from the traditional perspective of what people were "against" to think about what people were "for", and in doing so paints a picture of the values that fueled white flight, the civil rights movement, and continues to drive much of our modern political ideology. Whether you are interested in the history, modern politics, or just a great story I recommend this book
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Richard A. Jenkins on October 12, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was drawn to this book because I recently had lived in one of the neighborhoods (Kirkwood) profiled by Kruse and, oddly, it was very difficult to get a history of the place. Long-time black residents would talk about their time in the neighborhood, but elliptically skipped over the racial transition. White gentrifiers focused on long past history as when the railroad was less of a barrier to nearby neighborhoods or the development of the Craftsmans and even older larger houses. What little I learned came from academic studies available on the internet, people whose families had left during the white flight of the 1960s and people who had departed the area before racial change had begun. This actually was typical for Atlanta--the city "too busy to hate" was too uncomfortable to discuss race, at least with someone from elsewhere. During my time in Atlanta, I came to recognize it as a place as racist as any classically segregated city like Cleveland (where I grew-up) or Chicago (where I had lived earlier in my career). Atlantans also seemed less matter of fact about race than people in contrast to Washington, DC--a city with much Southern heritage or Nashville, a less self-consciously moderate place. Particularly unlike northern cities, Atlanta also has a heritage of feudal social, economic, and political stratification within white and black communities that has remained even when the people changed.

Kruse provides cases studies from several Atlanta neighborhoods, to the West, East, and South of downtown and the processes of white resistance and racial change, as well as the larger political context in which this occurred.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Michael E. Johnson on March 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is first, well written and then well researched. As someone who grew up in Atlanta during a good part of the time period covered by the book I'm impressed by the amount of detail and the level of accuracy that the writer provides. His analysis of not only what happen in and around the south but how it ties into the rise of the new conservatism is spot on. This should be required reading for all high school seniors as well as most politicians. To learn from the past we need more writers and researchers like Kevin M. Kruse to help illuminate the way. Please, please, please buy this book and read it.
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