This elegantly written narrative traces Arkansas's evolution from a primarily rural society in the early 1900s to its expanding manufacturing economy and its growing prosperity and parity with the rest of the nation. Ben Johnson explores the influence of federal-state relations, beginning with the New Deal programs of President Franklin Roosevelt and continuing through the administrations of native son Bill Clinton. With particular sensitivity, he examines organized labor in the timber industry and in row crop agriculture; school desegregation, "white flight," and the private academy movement in the delta region; the growth of Wal-Mart and the poultry industry in the northwest section of the state; and the expansion of outdoor recreation and tourism as lakes were constructed and game populations rejuvenated. This book is particularly impressive for the breadth of its scope. Johnson offers detailed information on women, music and literature, organized religion, environmental trends, and other important cultural influences. Third in the popular Histories of Arkansas series, Arkansas in Modern America extends the narrative into the contemporary era with a format aimed at students and general readers. This important book will set the standard, for years to come, for analysis and interpretation of Arkansas's place in the twentieth century.
Ben F. Johnson, III, is the author of Fierce Solitude: A Life of John Gould Fletcher (1994, University of Arkansas Press). He earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of Arkansas. Fayetteville, and teaches at South Arkansas Community College in El Dorado.