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Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940 (New Directions in Southern Studies) Paperback – February 1, 2011

4.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

An engaging treatment of the 'spectacle of lynching.'--The Alabama Review



This insightful exploration of lynching's cultural power is a groundbreaking addition to a growing body of scholarship focused on racial violence. . . . Essential.--Choice



[An] insightful study. . . . Her research is impressive, Wood's conclusions are measured and well-documented, and . . . her prose is crisp and clear.--Journal of Illinois History



Serves as a potent reminder that racial violence was not only condoned but enthusiastically supported by huge numbers of white Americans.--The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education



Adds an important chapter to a branch of scholarship that must remain as fluid, and sometimes uncertain, as its subject. . . . Wood, in choosing a ritualized form of violence and a unique set of sources through which to examine it, has made both a wise and creative choice, which has yielded a rich and troubling history.--Southern Cultures



The public nature of lynching receives heavily researched and imaginative treatment in Wood's readable analysis.--Journal of Interdisciplinary History



Should be required reading for all studying racial violence in the South. . . . Wood is admirably balanced in assessing her evidence and placing it in perspective. . . . In evidence, argument, context, and writing, this is an impressive study that will inspire future scholarship and will offer teachers a rich set of contexts to enliven their discussions of race in the era of lynching.--American Historical Review



Insightful. . . . One of the work's greatest strengths is the interplay between local and national contexts. . . . An excellent example of how visual culture and theory can enhance historical research without obscuring the argument. . . . Recommended for historians interested in how race and violence worked together to shape popular culture, and vice versa.--Indiana Magazine of History



This thoughtful and amply illustrated monograph shows how photography served first to cast atrocity as civility and subsequently undermined the practice of lynching by reconstructing what had become folk custom as, instead, an outrage.--Arkansas Historical Quarterly



Wood deserves praise for synthesizing the expansive body of scholarship on lynching while offering an insightful cultural analysis of southern white sadism.--North Carolina Historical Review



Expands our understanding of lynching. . . . Wood's most important contribution is her well-informed discussion of the impact of photography and film on lynching's rise and demise.--Georgia Historical Quarterly



This study incorporates a tremendous amount of information and provides a thorough understanding of lynching as spectacle, which will be of interest to scholars of American religion, the South, and American Studies.--Journal of Southern Religion



The freshness of approach provides a unique perspective and contributes to several fields of study. . . . Wood thinks clearly, demonstrates an impressive range of research skills, and writes well. . . . Offers the best account to date of the American film industry's disturbingly cozy appropriation of lynching in its early decades. . . . [Wood] provides so much primary source material and interpretive aplomb that her narrative rarely wavers in its originality or self-reliance.--Journal of Southern History



[A] thoughtful, well-researched study. . . . Wood has established the centrality of visual media to the formation of racial identities and the perpetuation of a related culture of lynching more cogently and elaborately than any previous writer. . . . Provocative and lucid. . . . A significant contribution to our understanding of race and racial violence in American history.--Southern Quarterly



The scholar interested in southern culture will find the book rewarding." --Journal of Mississippi History



Wood's effective contribution refines our understanding of the relationship between lynching and culture. . . . Compelling and insightful. . . . A well-executed book that should be read by all who are interested in the cultural relations of lynching.--Journal of American History



Wood succeeds admirably. . . . One of the most enlightening studies of lynching produced in recent years.--Arkansas Review: A Journal of Delta Studies

Review

Lynching and Spectacle is a work of both impressive analysis and serious historical craft that makes a number of important contributions to our understanding of the American South and violence there. Combining attention to place, time, and context with an acute sensitivity to cultural expression, ranging from photography and film to journalism, Wood has written the most mature, finely grained, and insightful study of the culture of lynching available.--W. Fitzhugh Brundage, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Product Details

  • Series: New Directions in Southern Studies
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807871974
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807871973
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #285,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sarah Mahoney on September 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was assigned _Lynching and Spectacle_ in a History class about 20th century America. It was a very shocking sort of book--not a pleasant read, but a very informative one. The author wove first hand narrative in with her writing very deftly, using newspapers, pamphlets, letters, and the like. The pictures were well placed to emphasize the points she wanted to make.
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An informative read that will make you sick as the hanging death of people becomes a spectator sport. I knew going in I was going to be really angry about this and I was so right. It has been more than a month since I finished it and the horrific cruelty and lawlesness still makes my blood boil.And many times the "supposed law" were guilty of opening the jail or were complicit in letting this happen. It will make you think.
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More black men were hanged in America in the twentieth century than were hanged during slavery, the author of this book Miss Amy Louise Wood does an excellent job of revealing who and what group of Americans did this whole scale hanging of black men. Many white people who participated and witnessed these hangings were your everyday run of the mill American citizens as stated on page 80-81 "As visual extensions of the lynching itself, photographs could at times assuage crowds that had missed the opportunity to witness and participate in the violence. In 1934, the posse that captured Claude Neal, accused of raping and killing a young white woman named Lola Cannidy, chose to lynch him in the woods outside Marianna, Florida, rather than bringing him to the Cannidy home, where a large crowd had gathered in anticipation of the lynching. When the waiting crowd had discovered that the mob had lynched Neal privately, they were reportedly outraged. The mob finally arrived with Neal's body in tow, and the crowd, which included Cannidy's family, took out their vengeance on the corpse, kicking and shooting it, tearing it apart, and even driving their cars over it. Neal's mutilated, nude body was then hanged on the courthouse lawn in the center of the town, and hundreds of photographs were taken. he next day, as people congregated in the square to see the body, the photographs were sold to those purportedly still incensed that the posse who lynched Neal had denied them the satisfaction and pleasure of witnessing Neal's lynching. The images acted as visual replications of the actual spectacle, offering them vicarious access to the missed thrill of the lynching.Read more ›
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Best book I have yet read on the subject, and I have read many in research for the writing of my second novel. It relentlessly examines specific cases of lynching over time, but it is not a mere narrative of specific lynchings. It is an excellent analysis of the social, historical and cultural forces behind this horrendous practice. The book's discussion of the movie, Birth of a Nation, would by itself make this a valuable book, but the book's central theme is even more important. Its central theme, the public's desire for spectacle as fuel for lynchings, particularly after the abolition of legal public executions, is even more revealing. Also a good look at the social and cultural forces that over time led to the gradual demise of lynching as a phenomenon. A page turner for history readers. Warning -- man's inhumanity to man will make you simultaneously angry and sad.
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Interesting approach to the study of lynching. Thought- provoking and well reasoned thesis. The author adds a new dimension to the lynching literature
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