William Alexander Percy and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Qty:1
Only 16 left in stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
William Alexander Percy: ... has been added to your Cart
+ $3.99 shipping
Used: Acceptable | Details
Condition: Used: Acceptable
Comment: The University of North Carolina Press; 2012; 9.30 X 6.20 X 1.20 inches; Hardcover; Poor in Poor dust jacket; POOR: Slightly cocked, bottom of spine heavily bumped, corners bumped, otherwise text clean, reading condition: as is; 368 Pages
Sell yours for a Gift Card
We'll buy it for $2.00
Learn More
Trade in now
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

William Alexander Percy: The Curious Life of a Mississippi Planter and Sexual Freethinker Hardcover – March 12, 2012


See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$35.00
$21.19 $5.00

Featured Scientific History Books
Browse books on early innovations and technological feats. Learn more
$35.00 FREE Shipping. Only 16 left in stock. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.


Frequently Bought Together

William Alexander Percy: The Curious Life of a Mississippi Planter and Sexual Freethinker + Lanterns on the Levee: Recollections of a Planter's Son (Library of Southern Civilization)
Price for both: $51.57

Buy the selected items together
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (March 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807835358
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807835357
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #531,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

[Wise] highlights Percy's dedication to his adopted family and intellectual pursuits, rendering his subject a compellingly complex character.--Publishers Weekly

Wise has taken William Alexander Percy, a somewhat shadowed anachronistic figure, and turned him into a richly understood, interesting person. This is a distinguished biography.--Journal of Southern History

This beautifully written biography will appeal to general readers as well as scholars of gay history and the South.--Library Journal

Wise's crisp and clear articulation of Percy's views of love and sexuality will attract the attention of scholars and general readers far beyond the field of southern studies.--Southern Spaces

[An] elegant, engaging, and highly recommended book. It is a major contribution to southern history and the history of gender and sexuality.--Journal of American History

Wise's book succeeds because it is smart, thorough, and gorgeously written. It also succeeds because, unlike so many of the people who have written about Percy in the past, Wise clearly understands the difference between sex, which is comparatively easy to write about, and sexuality, which can easily take nothing less than a lifetime to begin to be understood. . . . A major contribution to southern history and the history of gender and sexuality.--Journal of American History

An excellent biography.--Memphis Magazine

Wise will change not only the way that historians think about Percy but also about sexuality in the early twentieth-century South. A product of immense research and artful reading. . . . This book deserves a wide readership.--American Historical Review

Wise's biography [is] the first full-length treatment of Percy to foreground his homosexuality from start to finish. There is still a lot of speculation here, but there's also a lot of sound, fundamental archival research that is placed effectively within a broad social and cultural history of homosexual identity and practice in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, in both Mississippi and the world at large. This is truly a groundbreaking biography.--Virginia Quarterly Review

Review

William Alexander Percy is unquestionably one of the more interesting figures of the American South in the early twentieth century. Poet, planter, lawyer, valiant World War I veteran, memoirist, adoptive father to three young cousins, he also led a largely clandestine life as a gay man in a region and culture that had little tolerance for sexual difference. Yet as Benjamin Wise's much needed biography shows, the whole of Percy's life was informed by that difference, including his determination to be the kind of man his society and family would esteem. There was sadness in such a life, to be sure, but there were also great accomplishments and even times of great joy. Wise has done justice to the achievements and complexities of this remarkable man.--Jay Tolson, news director of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and author of Pilgrim in the Ruins: A Life of Walker Percy|A groundbreaking book. This fiercely intelligent and elegantly written biography fully contextualizes Percy's life as it raises some of the largest issues of the times. It will prove a milestone in Southern history, with considerable impact as well in American studies, literary criticism, cultural studies, and queer history.--John Howard, King's College London

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By William A. Percy on November 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Ben Wise twists the facts for his pro-gay propaganda. Don't get me wrong, I'm gay and pro-gay myself but truth should come first. William Alexander Percy, Southern aristocrat, gay, a poet and war hero, was my Uncle Will. Wise packages him as an attractive, glamorous figure for a gay readership. And so he was. But then Wise self-censors, hiding the inconvenient truth that Uncle Will had affairs with three boys, his underage black servants, a truth which would have crashed his "good gay" narrative into a fatal head-on collision with an alternative story of child sexual abuse, a story also heavily freighted with what would be seen these days as further embarrassing transgressions: power abuse along race and class lines. Back then, though, in the 1920s and 30s, Uncle Will trained up each of those teenage boys, advancing their education and career prospects. It was seen as valued patronage.

Wise attempts to downgrade the fact that Uncle Will had sexual affairs one after the other seriatim with Ernest, Fode and Honey each beginning from age 12 or 13. Like his mentor Wyatt-Brown, he dismisses my own recorded tapes from Millie Commadore that I had shared with Bert Wyatt-Brown and others that she gave to Wyatt-Brown himself as just anecdotes, or rumors. This is despite hours of detailed, tape-recorded testimony of Millie's and others of her acquaintances still then living by contemporaries who knew them well, as revealed in John M. Barry's allegedly "sensationalized" best-seller Rising Ride, that detailed my family's role in the relief work that followed the great Mississippi flood of 1927. Likewise, he insultingly ignores my own family knowledge, as did John Howard in his superficial review of Wise's book for Southern Spaces.

Wise parades his scruples over the reliability of sources.
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Pat G. Roach on March 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a well-written and engaging account of a complex man. Wise does an especially nice job of interpreting Percy's letters, poetry, and other writings to show us that Percy was not a self-loathing homosexual, stifled by his Southern context. Rather, Percy embraced - and created - a queer identity that rejected aspects of the conservatism of his culture (sexual mores, religious belief), while ironically embracing the elitism that was part and parcel of his white, Southern heritage as well.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Larry Lingle on May 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bear with me but this part is important. When I began my doctoral studies back in 1961 my major adviser started me off with a tutorial course and the first book he assigned me was William Alexander Percy's memoirs, "Lanterns on the Levee". Without much difficulty I quickly realized that my professor sought my recognition of the struggle in post-Reconstruction South between the old or Bourbon whites and the new South force of demagogues who lashed their hopes to racial fears. I do recall sensing a greater connection to Percy's book but could not at the time recognize its origin. With Benjamin Wise's fine biography of Percy the points of connection become clear: Even in my closeted life back then I somehow at least subconsciously registered Percy's veiled references to his gayness. Wise is willing to step out of the over-worn limiting role of many biographers and read into situations possibilities that other biographers would fear to tread. Thus past writers, lacking a written declaration, have preferred to conclude that the likes of Walt Whitman and Henry James did not "act" on their true natures. For too long historians have preferred that homosexuals in the past were always eunuchs. As Wise once points out no such evidence is required for heterosexual figures in history. And Wise does present ample evidence of Percy's homosexuality in his letters, his poems, his friends, and even his travel destinations. As I look back on that introduction to Percy in 1961, sadly I must conclude that my professor, no doubt a fine historian, had no idea what was really in "Lanterns on the Levee". Wise, with this fine study, has at long last colored in the portions of a life of a man I long admired.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ragtime on April 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
To say that Ben Wise has written a beautiful book feels somehow incomplete. To be sure: he has written a beautiful book. At the same time, he has written a book that is disarming, rare, deeply challenging and fiercely original.

To say William Alexander Percy was complex is equally incomplete. Perhaps it's best to discuss him at a sideways glance, paraphrasing Whitman. In Ben Wise's haunting rendering, William Alexander Percy contains multitudes. Ben Wise has somehow stripped away layer upon layer of complex contradiction. And he leaves us with the core of a man, stripped bare of the chaff, at once spartan and haunting and audacious. In the end, Wise masterfully leaves us with a portrait of a life lived on the radical cusp of a changing sexual landscape. And as a reader, I am a better, more enlightened, and more sophisticated person for it.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
William Alexander Percy: The Curious Life of a Mississippi Planter and Sexual Freethinker
This item: William Alexander Percy: The Curious Life of a Mississippi Planter and Sexual Freethinker
Price: $35.00
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com