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Dixie Rising: How the South Is Shaping American Values, Politics, and Culture
     

Dixie Rising: How the South Is Shaping American Values, Politics, and Culture

by Peter Applebome
 
In a provocative exploration of the triumphant South--the region that increasingly defines American politics and values--the former Atlanta bureau chief of The New York Times illuminates the people, places, and passions of this influential section of the country--an area that has effectively decided the outcome of every presidential election in the past 30 years.

Overview

In a provocative exploration of the triumphant South--the region that increasingly defines American politics and values--the former Atlanta bureau chief of The New York Times illuminates the people, places, and passions of this influential section of the country--an area that has effectively decided the outcome of every presidential election in the past 30 years.

Editorial Reviews

Paige Williams

Peter Applebome plays the flip side of a tired old tune in Dixie Rising. Instead of adding one more book to the bulging section on the South's homogenization, Applebome aims to show how the region's bedrock ideals are in fact driving modern America. "Only the blind could look at America at the century's end," he writes, "and not see the fingerprint of the South on almost every aspect of the nation's soul."

Applebome, a New York Times correspondent in the South, finds in the region the roots of a whole slew of cultural trends -- a flourishing national conservatism, the racial preoccupations of national politics, a wildfire addiction to country music, the obsessive gun debate, and the spread of states' rights groups and of Southern Baptist outposts. Though his thesis isn't entirely original (John Egerton tried first, with The Americanization of Dixie: The Southernization of America in 1974), the concept is intriguing.

The book's most convincing chapters are on race, country music (a regional business turned $2 billion mega-industry) and politics, particularly George Wallace. Despite a surprisingly forgiving tone, Dixie Rising depicts Wallace as the politician who "tapped into the fears and resentments of white America in a way that has defined the political landscape" -- making a strong case that without Wallace's mobilization of that angry, alienated, working-class constituency, the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress might never have happened.

Yet in other areas, Dixie Rising doesn't quite build the bridge. What promises to be a cohesive portrait of the South's ongoing influence often reads like historical rehash. Other sections are merely self-indulgent profiles of places that Applebome finds interesting, rather than significant contributors to the American scene. In spots, Dixie Rising isn't much more than Applebome reaching. Some might explain that he's just another outsider seduced down the well-traveled path of an enduring mystery, one impossible to simplify. Applebome describes one man who "got Southernized" -- which is a bit like saying moving to Paris makes you French. You're either Southern or you're not; you can marry into it or move into it, but no amount of deep-fried osmosis can make you of it.

Dixie Risings value is that it forces us to think about the South's role in modern America and whether Applebome's perception will hold true: "We all need a calm in our storm, divine or otherwise. In ways both real and illusory, the South these days seems to promise one." -- Salon

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
By turns seduced and repelled by Southern politics and culture, former longtime New York Times Atlanta bureau chief and transplanted Yankee Applebome grapples engagingly and appreciatively here with the stunning contradictions of the modern South. Not only does the South exercise disproportionate political power (Dixie now claims leadership of Congress as well as the White House); most of our serious conflicts over race and religion continue to play out dramatically in the old Confederacy. Applebome's unusual historical literacy helps him understand a region drenched in the tradition and legends of the Civil War, racist demagoguery and the battles over integration. Outsiders will be astonished by the new popularity of the Confederacy. Southerners black and white will recognize themselves in portraits of Selma, Ala., then and now, Nashville's music, South Carolina firebrands, Southern Baptist conventions and the saga of George Wallace. Above all, it is race that saturates Southern life. Because the author zeroes in on race and lets Southerners tell their own stories, this is a compelling, disturbing, at times inspiring book. As he stresses, no place in the U.S. has been so defined by raceand "the racial scapegoating... that crippled the South for so long will do the same thing for the nation." Photos. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Since the 1970s, a persistent theme in both academic and journalistic writing on the American South has been the presumed "convergence" of the politics and culture of the South with those of the non-South. Writers have also debated the question of whether this convergence is primarily a product of an "Americanization" of the South or of a "Southernization" of the non-South. Although New York Times journalist Applebome shows influence in both directions, his subtitle makes it clear that his focus is the South's influence on the rest of the nation. The author relies heavily on travels and interviews he did in the South over a period of 18 months starting in early 1995. Although he is a perceptive writer on matters pertaining to Southern culture and values, Applebome's understanding of Southern politics is not always as insightful. For public libraries.Thomas H. Ferrell, Univ. of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307819871
Publisher:
Crown/Archetype
Publication date:
05/30/2012
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
File size:
4 MB

Meet the Author


Peter Applebome is a writer and editor for the New York Times who covers cultural issues. He has been a reporter for Texas Monthly and the Dallas Morning News, and served as bureau chief for the Times in both Houston and Atlanta. He lives in Chappaqua, New York.

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