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A Fabric of Defeat: The Politics of South Carolina Millhands, 1910-1948
     

A Fabric of Defeat: The Politics of South Carolina Millhands, 1910-1948

by Bryant Simon
 

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In this book, Bryant Simon brings to life the politics of white South Carolina millhands during the first half of the twentieth century. His revealing and moving account explores how this group of southern laborers thought about and participated in politics and public power.


Taking a broad view of politics, Simon looks at laborers as they engaged in

Overview

In this book, Bryant Simon brings to life the politics of white South Carolina millhands during the first half of the twentieth century. His revealing and moving account explores how this group of southern laborers thought about and participated in politics and public power.


Taking a broad view of politics, Simon looks at laborers as they engaged in political activity in many venues--at the polling station, on front porches, and on the shop floor--and examines their political involvement at the local, state, and national levels. He describes the campaign styles and rhetoric of such politicians as Coleman Blease and Olin Johnston (himself a former millhand), who eagerly sought the workers' votes. He draws a detailed picture of mill workers casting ballots, carrying placards, marching on the state capital, writing to lawmakers, and picketing factories. These millhands' politics reflected their public and private thoughts about whiteness and blackness,
war and the New Deal, democracy and justice, gender and sexuality, class relations and consumption.


Ultimately, the people depicted here are neither romanticized nor dismissed as the stereotypically racist and uneducated "rednecks" found in many accounts of southern politics. Southern workers understood the political and social forces that shaped their lives, argues Simon, and they developed
complex political strategies to deal with those forces.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
This deeply researched and well-written volume stands as a rigorous study that fills a real need.

Journal of Social History

An interesting and valuable contribution to our understanding of twentieth-century white southern legal culture.

American Historical Review

A significant addition to the new scholarship on southern working-class whites.

The Journal of Southern History

[P]rovides an unusually engaging perspective on twentieth-century southern working-class history.

The Journal of American History

Represents essential reading for those who seek a deeper understanding of the American south's tortured course in the twentieth century.

Business History

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807864494
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
11/09/2000
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
File size:
3 MB

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
A distinctive, original study that adds to the growing list of important studies in southern labor history.—Reviews in American History

An interesting and valuable contribution to our understanding of twentieth-century white southern legal culture.—American Historical Review

Represents essential reading for those who seek a deeper understanding of the American south's tortured course in the twentieth century.—Business History

A significant addition to the new scholarship on southern working-class whites.—Journal of Southern History

This beautifully written study of the South's classic industrial population offers a provocative new interpretation of how white working-class identity and politics shifted over the first half of the twentieth century. Even those who dispute some claims will find themselves captivated by Simon's powerful rendering of the promise and tragedy of this story. Southern historians and labor historians will have to read this book; others will want to.—Nancy MacLean, Northwestern University

Bryant Simon's elegantly written book is both a rigorous examination of white working-class politics in the New South and a poignant recreation of a culture that has largely disappeared. It is a story about great possibilities and ultimate failure, about the struggle for economic democracy in a society deeply committed to white privilege and racial segregation. Sympathetic to his subjects, yet true to history, Simon takes us into the homes, factories, and voting booths of South Carolina mill workers who fought to better their lives through a political process they could never hope to control.—David M. Oshinsky, Rutgers University

An exhaustively-researched and finely-written account of the ways politics shaped the lives of South Carolina's mill workers even as they shaped politics.—South Carolina Historical Magazine

This well-written book. . . . provides an unusually engaging perspective on twentieth-century southern working-class history.—The Journal of American History

An excellent study of the politics of South Carolina textile workers, from the Progressive era through the New Deal and World War II. It is, first and foremost, an artful blending of the subfields of labor, political, and southern history, but the book will be of interest to political scientists and to students of cultural studies as well. Simon's exploration of the limits of New Deal reform is superb, and his analysis of the multiple dimensions of millworkers' identities is insightful, and often provocative.—Journal of Interdisciplinary History

Perceptive in analysis and engaging in style, Bryant Simon's impressive volume provides a masterly investigation of the political life of white South Carolina millhands during the first half of the twentieth century. . . . This deeply researched and well-written volume stands as a rigorous study that fills a real need—a major exploration of the working class politics of southern millhands in the modern period. This is a significant effort.—Journal of Social History

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Meet the Author

Bryant Simon is assistant professor of history at the University of Georgia.

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