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The Strange Career of Jim Crow Commemorative Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195146905
ISBN-10: 0195146905
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Editorial Reviews


"C. Vann Woodward's Strange Careeer is one of the most important works to an American historian of any period. Not only is Strange Career a great work of history, it is history. It is still enthralling students today."--Carlos Blanton, Rice University

"This classic study of the history of segregation in the United States still has much to teach us."--The Diversity Factor

"A unique, revealing, and 'eye-opening' volume that deals with a most sensitive aspect of U.S. history."--Arthur E. Chapman, University of Miami

Praise for previous editions:

"Excellent perspective of development of Jim Crow laws in South and , what is unusual, in the North. The revision has a good analysis of the irony of modern black separatism."--Ben F. Fordney, James Madison Univ.

"A witty, learned, and unsettling book...a book of permanent significance."--Robert Penn Warren

"A landmark in the history of American race relations."--David Herbert Donald

"I have used this work as a required reading in my freshman-level U.S. history class for twenty-two years and found it a most appropriate assignment."--Peter Sehlinger, Indiana University, Indianapolis

"Absolutely useful."--Jennie La Monte, University of New Hampshirs

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

The late C. Vann Woodward was the Sterling Professor of History at Yale until his death in 1999. Among his books are Mary Chestnut's Civil War, The Origins of the New South, Tom Watson: Agrarian Rebel, and The Burden of Southern History. He was also General Editor of The Oxford History of the United States series.

William S. McFeely won the Lincoln Prize in 1992 for Frederick Douglass and the Pulitzer Prize in 1982 for Grant: A Biography. He is Abraham Baldwin Professor of the Humanities Emeritus at the University of Georgia and lives in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.
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Product Details

  • Series: Legal Classics Library
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Commemorative edition (November 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195146905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195146905
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.7 x 5.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
C. Vann Woodward's The Strange Career of Jim Crow is not only a fine introduction to its topic -- the segregationist period in the South -- but one of the most significant and influential books of its time.
Originally published in 1955 (by Oxford University Press), Professor Woodward's tome kicked off the Civil Rights era with a bang, debunking the ludicrous myth (and mantra among segregationists) that separation of the races had always existed in Southern life, and generally dissecting an ugly monstrosity which had come to be accepted simply as "the way things are." Ten years later, in a second revision which came just as the legal battle against segregation was almost won, Woodward added a wealth of information which helped finish the job of winning the people's hearts and minds: in the words of Robert Penn Warren, Woodward's work was "a witty, learned, and unsettling book. The depth of the unsettling becomes more obvious day by day; which is a way of saying that it is a book of permanent significance." And ten years later still, in this -- the third and final revision -- Woodward capped off the era with an examination of the more violent, less integrationist movements which arose after Watts, with leaders like Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver and Bobby Seale.
Woodward is an equal-opportunity myth-exploder. On the one hand, he demonstrates at great length that segregation was not a mere expression of racism, but in fact a complex and corrupt outworking of many political and economic interests in the impoverished, post-Reconstruction South.
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Format: Paperback
The most fascinating thing about this book is not just the particular events in history, or the misconceptions and myths that Woodward discusses, but rather how truly complex the issue of race is in America. Since emancipation, there has always been a struggle between and among whites and blacks to figure out how to understand each other and themselves, and how to occupy the same place. This history is indeed strange, and to have an idea of why race is still such an issue today, it helps to know how racism, segregation, and civil rights changed over time.
Woodward's book cautions us against taking simplified views that the South was always racist, and the North was not, and he begins by describing various accounts of life in the South right after the Civil War. According to Woodward, the venomous prejudice that sustained the Jim Crow laws decades later wasn't foreseeable at that time. Much of his explanation of the racist sentiment that so desired segregation is framed in the context of politics, and he tries to analyze many of the events he discusses in terms of political and economic pressures, as well as in terms of reactions to preceding actions.
If the Civil War is to be seen as a war for racial equality (and there are many other ways of seeing it), then it can easily be argued that it continues to this day. It is often most comforting to think of the wiping out of Native Americans, and then the enslavement of Africans as hideous scars that America carries in the past, while believing that America today is a different, tolerant place. But Jim Crow laws were a product of the twentieth century, and the racial tensions still exist in a very real way. Woodward's book, first published in 1955, and last revised in 1974, is still immensely relevant today, and reading it can only enhance your sense of American history.
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Format: Paperback
In C. Vann Woodward's enormously influential examination of Jim Crow segregation laws in the post-Civil War South he makes two fundamental points: first, that the imposition of strict segregation did not immediately follow the War; second, that the eventual adoption of Jim Crow laws was not simply a function of racism--there were myriad political factors involved.
Woodward first provides a detailed analysis of the state of the races following the War. He demonstrates: that Slavery had required the proximity and interaction of Blacks and Whites, which could not be reversed overnight; that Northern Republicans, Southern Conservatives and Southern Radicals all had reasons to court black citizens; and reminds us that with the North virtually running the South for a period of years, segregation would not have been allowed immediately after the war.
He then makes a compelling case that the true rise of Jim Crow came about, in the 1890's, due to a confluence of factors: 1) Northern withdrawal from Southern affairs; 2) the changes in Northern attitudes towards colored peoples as America became an Imperialist power; 3) the crushing depression of the 80's, which added fuel to racial animus; 4) the concurrent rise of the Populists who were more than willing to play the race card; and 5) the series of Supreme Court rulings which sanctioned separation.
Finally, he turns to the demise of segregation, which was going on even as he wrote the several editions of his book.
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