- Series: Brown Thrasher Books Ser.
- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: University of Georgia Press (March 28, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0820316970
- ISBN-13: 978-0820316970
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,477,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Living Atlanta: An Oral History of the City, 1914-1948 (Brown Thrasher Books Ser.) Paperback – March 28, 2005
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While we learn a good bit about the development of Atlanta over the years within the context of contemporary historiography, the heart and soul of the book is its depiction of the machinations of a segregated society. . . . Living Atlanta deserves respect for telling a difficult story.(Journal of American History)
A valuable guide to Atlanta's complicated personality and its wonderful, terrible past.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
The most vivid retrospective of twentieth-century life in Georgia.(Macon Telegraph and News)
Living Atlanta should serve as a foundation for reevaluating the origins of race relations in the urban New South. It is an important and an innovative work that warrants a wide readership.(Journal of American Ethnic History)
It is a very readable history, and any of its chapters could well be expanded to book length. . . . Essential for libraries with collections on Atlanta and southern racial relations.(Library Journal)
A captivating narrative that weaves quotations into the prose. Rather than presenting a collection of transcribed interviews, the book tells a story with the enrichment of personal recollections. . . . The authors and their interview subjects present a detailed portrait of life in a southern city when segregation prevailed at every turn. . . . The oral history interviews reveal with great poignancy how the institutions and mores enforcing segregation shaped the lives of whites and blacks alike. (Roger Biles Journal of Southern History)
The book captures the subjugation of blacks by whites and the efforts of black Atlantans to live within these conditions. Living Atlanta, however, does more, communicating across the years a rich and varied history of the city and its people. (James B. Crooks Florida Historical Quarterly)
This book is a delight, a true history of private life, and the lives fly past 'just like a dog runnin' a rabbit.' (Virginia Quarterly Review)
A rich, evocative study which provides vignettes of a number of important topics such as race relations, neighborhood development, the depression, politics, crime, labor unions and strikes, religion, music, and recreation. . . . A handsome volume that shows the maturity of public history. . . . Teachers will mine it for telling detail to enliven lectures and textbooks. The wider public will find compelling reminders of the southern roots of jet-set Atlanta. (Carl Abbott Georgia Historical Quarterly)
Living Atlanta discloses a view of the New South that is dynamic and rich in human complexity. . . . The authors' successful use of oral interviews to bring to life the momentous events and everyday experiences of ordinary people will fascinate many readers. . . . Other scholar scholars interested in putting oral history to good use will want to follow the lead established by Living Atlanta. (Tera W. Hunter Oral History Review)
About the Author
CLIFFORD M. KUHN (1952–2015) was an associate professor of history at Georgia State University.
HARLON E. JOYE, a sociologist, was the executive producer of WRFG’s Living Atlanta radio series, on which this book is based.
E. BERNARD WEST, a historian, is president of Webaco Manufacturing Company, Inc.
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Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.
For those few remaining Atlantans who were children between the wars and during WWII (we're dying out rapidly), only we can truly understand how strangely different life in Atlanta was before WWII. Atlanta between the wars, hard as it is to believe it, was still, in so many ways, just an overgrown small town, and it still had a lot of smalltown ways. My grandmother could, with complete safety, still take me as a five-year-old child for after-dark strolls through Piedmont Park, where we could pass the warm summer evenings on a swing beneath a lamppost -- something you'd probably be insane to attempt today. As an 11-year-old child, I could still ride my bike four miles to Buckhead to watch a Roy Rogers movie and still wander alone throughout the downtown Atlanta streets in total safety as if I were in smalltown Macon or Athens, GA..
For us oldtimers, the end of World War Two was the day the world changed -- and Atlanta changed forever. For us, all the memories from before 1945 are preserved in sepia-tone, like old-fashioned snapshots, and everything after 1945 is remembered in brilliant Technicolor. Suddenly, everything was shiny and new and different. The old life was gone forever.
This book -- an oral history told by aging Atlantans (most of them dead now) who remembered what the city was like between the wars, has brilliantly captured the essence of those long-gone days as no other book has managed to do. For those Atlantans brave enough to wade through Franklin Garrett's monumental, 2,000 page history of Atlanta -- twice as long as "Gone With the Wind" -- this book serves to fill in the blanks and add warmth and local color that Garrett's more scholarly approach was unable to capture. For example, this book's interviews with aging, retired fire fighters and burned-out residents giving their stunning recollections of the Great Atlanta Fire of 1917 -- a blaze that wiped out a massive section of Atlanta two miles long and half a mile wide, destroying 2,000 houses, leaving 10,000 Atlantans homeless, and changing the city's housing patterns forever -- brings the true horror of one of the greatest disasters in American history to light in an intensely human way that Garrett wasn't able to.
When the editors of this book -- at a local Atlanta public radio station -- got ready to interview more than a hundred elderly Atlantans about their sepia-toned memories, they hit on an absolutely brilliant idea. The white oldtimers were interviewed only by white interrogators, while the black oldtimers were interviewed only by black interrogators. As a result, the black Atlantans of that era divulged a lot of very shocking details about black life in the city between the wars that they never would have felt comfortable recounting to white interviewers. For me, an aging white guy, the result was a revelation of a part of Atlanta life between the wars that I never even dreamed existed. A stunning accomplishment.
For example, the center of black university life, the center of black upper class, intellectual ferment, was right down the street from my grandmother's original house in West End -- but I never knew it existed. All I knew was the black cooks and maids who came to our house.
The book is an amazing portrait of two totally separate worlds -- white Atlanta and black Atlanta -- hurtling together toward a future that would eventually bring them together in a great new city. This book recounts a time half a century after Rhett and Scarlett -- but a time equally "Gone With the Wind."
I also worked with one of the book's author's wives during the time it was a "work in progress" and was a tiny part of the hard work he put into the writing of the book.
My father-in-law, a nationally-known jazz pianist, is one of the persons who was interviewed for this Oral History about his role in the Atlanta music scene during the time things were changing so rapidly in the city. He was quite instrumental in breaking the "color" barrier in Atlanta during what was a very tumultuous time.
I find the focus of the book refreshing. It is not just another "history boook", full of cold and impersonal "facts and figures". You will find information in this book that you may not find anywhere else in an Atlanta "history", and much of this unique information can, if you will let it, give you a completely different feeling for much of Atlanta's history.
I highly recommend the book. I am hoping against hope that it is *not* out of print and/or otherwise unavailable. I failed to get a copy when it was fist released, and want one NOW while my father-in-law is still living so I can get it autographed by both him *and* my friend's husband.