Freedom Summer: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy

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1st Edition, Fine-/Fine 12 pages show evidence of being dogearred at one time, o.w. clean, bright and tight. No ink names, tears, chips, foxing, etc. Price unclipped. ISBN ... 9780670021703 Read more Show Less

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"Bruce Watson captures, with skill and sensitivity, the drama of that historic summer in Mississippi. He reports the continuous violence, the almost unbearable tension, but also conveys the courage and persistence of black and white volunteers who would remember the experience for the rest of their lives. He does this through personal stories that are poignant and inspiring. This is the best account I have seen of Freedom Summer."---Howard Zinn" "I read with special interest this wonderfully instructive and compellingly written historical account of a fateful and decisive moment in America's twentieth-century struggle to become, finally, in all of our states, a country of áequal justice under the law.' I happened to be in Mississippi back then, and as I read this book, I became so very grateful to its historian-writer for his piously arresting contribution to our knowledge of what happened, where, and why. Here is a past of fear and hate, but also of courage and bravery, all given a narrator's---a scholar's---knowing and wise documentary attention."---Robert Coles Harvard University" "In this country's long struggle with racial injustice, the summer of 1964 in Mississippi was a pivotal moment. All Americans should know this piece of history, and as someone who participated in a very small way, I am glad to see it evoked so vividly in this book. Bruce Watson has told an important story, and told it well."---Adam Hochschild author of King Leopold's Ghost" "Bruce Watson's Freedom Summer is an exalting narrative of a pivotal moment in American history when the status quo of segregation in Mississippi began to crumble through a unique coming-together of heroic local folk and northern volunteers of good will. Watson's broad command of this story caused me to remember incidents I had forgotten, and to learn many things I never knew. Youthful idealism extracted a high cost in the summer of 1964, but democracy was the lasting beneficiary, as he reminds us on every page. This book made me very happy and proud."---Susan Brownmiller author of Against Our Will; volunteer in the Mississippi Summer Project, Meridian, 1964." "at the height of the civil rights movement, more than seven hundred American college students descended upon segregated, reactionary Mississippi to register black voters and educate black children. Working side by side with members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, they would set up Freedom Schools and travel door-to-door in poor black neighborhoods bearing a message of equality. On the night of their arrival, the worst fears of a race-tornation were realized: three volunteers---Andrew Goodman, James Cheney, and Michael Schwerner---disapeared, suspected of being killed by the Ku Klux Klan. So began Freedom Summer." "Bruce Watson's riveting narrative of these incredible months shines new light on one of the most remarkable episodes in American history. Mississippi in 1960 was a land out of time, seared by memories of the Civil War and accustomed to meeting questions fanned across the state, tensions mounted; soon the beatings intensified, and churches burned. And yet slowly, at times imperceptibly, change came to Mississippi, as its black citizens grew willing to risk their lives in search of the ultimate prize---the freedom to choose their own destiny. This powerful story, framed by the FBI's relutant investigation of the men's disappearance, would lead in two directions: to a terrible secret at the bottom of an earth-fill dam in Neshoba County, and to the shores of Atlantic City, where the summer's work came to a riveting climax at the 1964 Democratic National Convention." Taking us inside Freedom schools and into the spare yet dignified homes of Mississippi's black community, Freedom Summer presents finely rendered portraits of SNCC staffers and volunteers; of black and white Mississippians alike; and of the legendary figures---Martin Luther King Jr., Pete Seeger, J. Edgar Hoover, and others---who would find their lives shaped by the summer's unforgettable events. It captures America at a critical moment of nascent change, when the power of idealism could not be destroyed by killing its messengers, and the promise of justice cast its long, cooling shadow across the land.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this mesmerizing history, Watson (Sacco and Vanzetti) revisits the blistering summer of 1964 when about 700 volunteers arrived in Mississippi to agitate for civil rights and endured horrific harassment, intimidation, and persecution from racist state and private forces. The largely white, college student volunteers and the largely black trainers and organizers, SNCC veterans of previous campaigns, were fed and sheltered by the impoverished black community members they had come to serve and secure suffrage for. Their path was two-pronged: the Freedom School’s challenge to a “power structure... that confined Negro education to 'learning to stay in your place’ ” and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party’s challenge to Mississippi’s all-white delegation to the 1964 Democratic National Convention. Familiar figures (e.g., Lyndon B. Johnson, Stokely Carmichael, Fannie Lou Hamer) take the stage, but Watson’s dramatic center belongs to four “ordinary” volunteers, whose experiences he portrays with resonant detail. The murdered Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner cast shadows over all, haunting Watson’s account of how the volunteers, organizers, and the black Mississippians who dared seek political expression “lifted and revived the trampled dream of democracy.” (June)
Dwight Garner
Mr. Watson's book derives its power—at its best, it is the literary equivalent of a hot light bulb dangling from a low ceiling—from its narrow focus. Freedom Summer is about the more than 700 college students who, in the summer of 1964, under the supervision of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, risked their lives to travel to Mississippi to register black voters and open schools…The story of these months has been told before, but rarely this viscerally.
—The New York Times
Kirkus Reviews
Blow-by-blow account of the ghastly reception given the Freedom Summer volunteers who attempted to register black voters in Mississippi in 1964. Journalist Watson (Sacco and Vanzetti, 2007, etc.) creates a complete picture of this decisive summer, from the makeup of the young students who risked their lives to volunteer to a comprehensive portrait of a nation on the brink of wrenching change in race relations. The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) had recruited across college campuses legions of white and black students eager to break open the deeply segregated "closed society" of Mississippi, with its entrenched obstacles to black voting. Trained briefly in Ohio and bused down to Mississippi by late June, the young, idealistic volunteers were well-informed about the white hostility and customary savagery perpetrated against blacks that they would face. However, the largely middle-class, well-educated students were not prepared for the scenes of poverty and destitution they encountered in black communities throughout the South. The disappearance in late June of three SNCC volunteers haunted their work that summer, and the incident serves as the book's suspenseful propulsion. The discovery of their remains in early August-after an extended FBI hunt and national outcry-reinforced rather than deterred the volunteers' conviction. Watson does a fine job portraying key participants, such as SNCC leaders Bob Moses and Fannie Lou Hamer, as well as less-well-known events at the subsequent Atlantic City Democratic Convention in mid-August, where the 67 black Freedom Democrats of Mississippi insisted on being heard. Engaging but occasionally longwinded, Watson's work is competentlyresearched and contextually rich. A moving record of the power of idealism. Agent: Jeff Kleinman/Folio Literary Management
From the Publisher
"Here is a past of fear and hate, but also of courage and bravery, all given a narrator's—a scholar's—knowing and wise documentary attention." —Robert Coles, author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning Children of Crisis series
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670021703
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/10/2010
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.54 (w) x 9.42 (h) x 1.27 (d)

Meet the Author

David Drummond has been narrating audiobooks for a few years now and hopes one of these days to get it right. He much prefers dead authors and live audiences.
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Table of Contents

Book One Crossroads 3

Prologue 5

Chapter One "There Is a Moral Wave Building" 15

Chapter Two "Not Even Past" 38

Chapter Three Freedom Street 56

Chapter Four "The Decisive Battlefield for America" 77

Chapter Five "It Is Sure Enough Changing" 105

Chapter Six "The Scars of the System" 129

Interlude: "Another So-Called áFreedom Day'" 152

Book Two A Bloody Peace Written in the Sky 167

Chapter Seven "Walk Together, Children" 169

Chapter Eight "The Summer of Our Discontent" 191

Chapter Nine "Lay by Time" 215

Chapter Ten "The Stuff Democracy Is Made Of" 237

Chapter Eleven "Give unto Them Beauty for Ashes" 262

Epilogue 277

Acknowledgments 301

Notes 303

Bibliography 341

Index 353

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2013

    Gripping Account of Key Event in Civil Rights Movement

    The book is a fascinating insight into a key moment in the Civil Rights movement. When young men and women bravely traveled to Mississippi in 1964 to help African Americans register to vote in what became known as Freedom Summer. The most infamous incident of the period was the brutal assassination of three Civil Rights workers by the KKK in the town of Philadelphia. What makes this book especially gripping and worth reading in that the author was able to convince many volunteers to share their experiences, in some cases for the first time, of what they experienced. Thus, giving the reader a look behind the scenes at the hardship and extreme danger endured on a daily basis. I would definitely put this book on a must read list for anyone wanting to learn more about this period and am appreciative of their willingness to talk with the author.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2013

    Well written

    Felt like i was reading a novel

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 16, 2011

    First :D


    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted July 20, 2011

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    Posted June 10, 2011

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    Posted August 14, 2011

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    Posted January 12, 2011

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