Review by Choice Review
Daniel's book is an interpretative essay about continuity and change in southern social, economic, and cultural life since 1900. According to the author, the South carried a heavy burden (defeat in war, a race and class system, poverty, the failure of populism) into the 20th century. A life-style characterized by conservatism, rural dominance, religious fundamentalism, white supremacy, and violence emerged. It gave the South a distinctive quality far removed from mainstream America. Although southerners clung tenaciously to traditional values and behavior patterns, external forces, such as two world wars, liberalism, biblical modernism, pervasive government, and mass media, gradually tore away the underpinnings of the old way of life. The seeds of change planted prior to WW II matured during and after this war. Revolutionary changes swept over the South, transforming it so that the remains of the old culture were ``more available in the backward-looking lyrics of country music and the imaginative world of fiction than in reality.'' (p. 189). Daniel's work is perceptive, provocative, and entertaining. Readers will appreciate the author's witty style, earthy expressions, and breadth of material covered. There are, however, grounds for disagreement. Southern religion is identified too exclusively as fundamentalism. Does cockfighting deserve more attention than organized religion? And has it been ``the poor, the depressed, the sinners and the sinned against'' that have given the South its special character? An excellent bibliographical essay and index are included. No comparable work exists. Public and academic libraries, community college level up.-K.R. Johnson, University of North Alabama
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
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