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Lanterns on the Levee: Recollections of a Planter's Son (Library of Southern Civilization) Paperback – October 1, 2006
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About the Author
William Alexander Percy died the year after his autobiography was published. During World War I he fought in France with the American 37th Division, rose to the rank of captain, and was awarded the Croix de Guerre with gold star. With his father, U.S. Senator LeRoy Percy, he was one of the leaders in the successful 1922 fight against the Ku Klux Klan in Greenville, and he headed the local Red Cross unit during the disastrous Mississippi River flooding of 1927. He was the author of four books of poetry and practiced law in Greenville until his death.
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Will Percy's prose is beautiful, and his ability to tell a story delightful. This is truly the way life was in the early days, with all the charms and prejudices of the times. The book must be read with an open mind for what it is; a well-crafted glimpse of a slice of life. It was never intended to be a statement of mores. "Lanterns on the Levee" is so descriptive, you can almost hear the sound of the river boats and smell the rich soil of the Delta as you read. I'm so glad the book is still in print!
Of course Percy wouldn't be considered politically correct today, and he was certainly a racist in the context that he saw blacks as inferior, but that's the beauty of the book; it gives an unvarnished look into the way upper class white Delta people saw the world that surrounded them.
I have just finished writing a book about a 1940s sheriff in South Texas and found Lanterns on the Levee invaluable in helping me understand the Jim Crow era.