How Free Is Free?: The Long Death of Jim Crow

Hardcover (Print)
Buy Used
Buy Used from BN.com
$15.87
(Save 31%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $3.54
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 84%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (13) from $3.54   
  • New (5) from $12.65   
  • Used (8) from $3.54   

Overview

In 1985, a black veteran of the civil rights movement offered a bleak vision of a long and troubled struggle. For more than a century, black southerners learned to live with betrayed expectations, diminishing prospects, and devastated aspirations. Their odyssey includes some of the most appalling examples of terrorism, violence, and dehumanization in the history of this nation. But, as Leon Litwack graphically demonstrates, it is at the same time an odyssey of resilience and resistance defined by day-to-day acts of protest: the fight for justice poignantly recorded in the stories, songs, images, and movements of a people trying to be heard.

For black men and women, the question is: how free is free? Despite two major efforts to reconstruct race relations, injustices remain. From the height of Jim Crow to the early twenty-first century, struggles over racism persist despite court decisions and legislation. Few indignities were more pronounced than the World War II denial of basic rights and privileges to those responding to the call to make the world safe for democratic values—values that they themselves did not enjoy. And even the civil rights movement promise to redeem America was frustrated by change that was often more symbolic than real.

Although a painful history to confront, Litwack’s book inspires as it probes the enduring story of racial inequality and the ongoing fight for freedom in black America with power and grace.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

San Francisco Magazine

In this fluid retelling of the civil rights struggle from Reconstruction to Katrina, Leon Litwack, a Pulitzer Prize winner and UC Berkeley professor emeritus of history, shreds any notion of a feel-good narrative. Peppering his argument with quotations from freed slaves and fiery protesters, bluesman Charley Patton and rapper Chuck D., Litwack charts both the fight for black equality and the white pushback—from Southern poll taxes to Northern white flight—that accompanied each civil rights victory. While the "mechanics of repression" have changed over the years, he concludes, the ground truths have not. In other words, the lynchings are over, but subtler discrimination remains—for example, in the yawning disparities in our schools and courts (black Californians, he notes, are more likely to end up in state prison than at a state college)...It offers a powerful corrective to the purveyors of truthiness who insist (sans irony) that we've fixed our race problem.
— Chris Smith

Booklist

An interesting analysis of the dynamics of race and class and how they continue to affect progress.
— Vernon Ford

San Francisco Chronicle

As a fledgling academic at UC Berkeley, I enjoyed the dubious privilege of guest-lecturing in Leon Litwack's History 7B, "The United States since 1865." To someone who had done little public speaking, the experience was akin to following the Beatles on Ed Sullivan: The best you could hope for was that the customers wouldn't walk out. (I was only somewhat successful in this endeavor.) My 50 minutes marked a passing irritation, but Litwack's lectures, notable for their seamless flow and encyclopedic grasp of African American history, moved listeners to tears, an effect I witnessed repeatedly. Those same virtues are on display in this collection of lectures, whose elegant compression renders them no less angry in their politics or radical in their sympathies. The measured literary grace with which the argument is expressed, in fact, amplifies its power...Barack Obama appears nowhere in the text, but this small, pungent book makes clear that anyone who believes that the 2008 election eradicated racism possesses, at best, a perilously thin understanding of history.
— Jesse Berrett

New York Times Book Review

This short account of the black experience in America from the Civil War to Hurricane Katrina could turn any reader into a radical...It chronicles nearly 150 years of lynching, exploitation and institutionalized oppression. Litwack views the whole sweep of the American Century, including both world wars, through a racial lens. But the accumulated facts here, gathered over a lifetime of first-rate scholarship (Litwack won a Pulitzer Prize in 1980), show that for many Americans racial struggle isn't a chapter or a sidebar in our national story; it is our national story. Quotations crowd every page: from poets and novelists, former slaves, black laborers and professionals, bluesmen and rappers—as well as legions of white bigots. They form a chorus affirming Litwack's excruciating record of injustice, and breathe pity and pain into the crimes and humiliations he documents. In his presentation, America has a long way to go: school integration has effectively failed, and the rise of many blacks into the middle class and positions of power belies the "larger number...left to endure lives of quiet despair." As Litwack writes of lynchings: "This is not an easy history to absorb. The images and details can numb the mind, deaden the senses; they tax our sense of who we are and who we have been." The same is true of this searing, challenging book.
— Blake Wilson

William S. McFeely
With How Free is Free?, a master historian elegantly buries Jim Crow only to find his evil twin, Poverty, still haunts the graveyard.
Steven Hahn
How Free Is Free is a powerful addition to Leon Litwack's now multi-volume epic on African-American travails in slavery and freedom. In concise, though immensely evocative ways, he shows us the new world of possibilities that the Second World War opened as well as the contradictory and unsettling legacies of the ensuing struggles for civil rights.
San Francisco Magazine - Chris Smith
In this fluid retelling of the civil rights struggle from Reconstruction to Katrina, Leon Litwack, a Pulitzer Prize winner and UC Berkeley professor emeritus of history, shreds any notion of a feel-good narrative. Peppering his argument with quotations from freed slaves and fiery protesters, bluesman Charley Patton and rapper Chuck D., Litwack charts both the fight for black equality and the white pushback--from Southern poll taxes to Northern white flight--that accompanied each civil rights victory. While the "mechanics of repression" have changed over the years, he concludes, the ground truths have not. In other words, the lynchings are over, but subtler discrimination remains--for example, in the yawning disparities in our schools and courts (black Californians, he notes, are more likely to end up in state prison than at a state college)...It offers a powerful corrective to the purveyors of truthiness who insist (sans irony) that we've fixed our race problem.
Booklist - Vernon Ford
An interesting analysis of the dynamics of race and class and how they continue to affect progress.
San Francisco Chronicle - Jesse Berrett
As a fledgling academic at UC Berkeley, I enjoyed the dubious privilege of guest-lecturing in Leon Litwack's History 7B, "The United States since 1865." To someone who had done little public speaking, the experience was akin to following the Beatles on Ed Sullivan: The best you could hope for was that the customers wouldn't walk out. (I was only somewhat successful in this endeavor.) My 50 minutes marked a passing irritation, but Litwack's lectures, notable for their seamless flow and encyclopedic grasp of African American history, moved listeners to tears, an effect I witnessed repeatedly. Those same virtues are on display in this collection of lectures, whose elegant compression renders them no less angry in their politics or radical in their sympathies. The measured literary grace with which the argument is expressed, in fact, amplifies its power...Barack Obama appears nowhere in the text, but this small, pungent book makes clear that anyone who believes that the 2008 election eradicated racism possesses, at best, a perilously thin understanding of history.
New York Times Book Review - Blake Wilson
This short account of the black experience in America from the Civil War to Hurricane Katrina could turn any reader into a radical...It chronicles nearly 150 years of lynching, exploitation and institutionalized oppression. Litwack views the whole sweep of the American Century, including both world wars, through a racial lens. But the accumulated facts here, gathered over a lifetime of first-rate scholarship (Litwack won a Pulitzer Prize in 1980), show that for many Americans racial struggle isn't a chapter or a sidebar in our national story; it is our national story. Quotations crowd every page: from poets and novelists, former slaves, black laborers and professionals, bluesmen and rappers--as well as legions of white bigots. They form a chorus affirming Litwack's excruciating record of injustice, and breathe pity and pain into the crimes and humiliations he documents. In his presentation, America has a long way to go: school integration has effectively failed, and the rise of many blacks into the middle class and positions of power belies the "larger number...left to endure lives of quiet despair." As Litwack writes of lynchings: "This is not an easy history to absorb. The images and details can numb the mind, deaden the senses; they tax our sense of who we are and who we have been." The same is true of this searing, challenging book.
Blake Wilson
…this short account of the black experience in America from the Civil War to Hurricane Katrina could turn any reader into a radical…[a] searing, challenging book.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

In this stunning examination of African-American life after slavery. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Litwack recounts the physical brutality and crushing legal oppression of Jim Crow America. Drawing on African-American literature, poetry and blues music, as well as traditional archival and media records, the author details lynchings, segregation, denial of education and housing-and the dedication among African-Americans determined not to be treated as second-class citizens. The book pays special attention to the participation of black soldiers in America's wars and concludes with a look at race relations at the dawn of the new century: the legacy of the civil rights movement largely dismantled, the segregation formerly mandated by law replaced by a segregation just as deep driven by economics and tradition, and the voice of black dissent expressed through rap instead of blues. "In the early twenty-first century," the author writes, "it is a different America, and it is a familiar America"; Jim Crow is long gone from our law books, but the struggle for equality continues. (Feb.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674031524
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 2/15/2009
  • Series: Nathan I. Huggins Lectures Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 4.70 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Leon F. Litwack is the Alexander F. and May T. Morrison Professor of American History Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley, where he received the Golden Apple Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2007. He also received a Pulitzer Prize in History, the Francis Parkman Prize, and the American Book Award. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Humanities Film Grant.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

  • Contents

  1. High Water Everywhere
  2. Never Turn Back
  3. Fight the Power

  • Notes
  • Index

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 12, 2011

    Peer Review**

    Freedom Is What We Make It How free is free? This is a constant question I asked myself as I read through Litwack's novel How Free Is FREE? I am quite familiar with Jim Crow and the resolution its followers tried to make. I am aware of the Civil Rights movement, NAACP, and the Dred Scott case-but something I was not aware of, the inside stories of the countless lynching, fear, and lose of authority that ran through both Jim Crow believers and the non-believers. The segregation was more than the separation of skin color-it was a fight for power, placement, and progress within the American society. As a child who grew up in the South, I am aware of the KKK, anti-integration, and the unwritten "Southern law" against the African American culture. My great grandfather was from Kentucky, and a proud member of the KKK. I have been told many stories of the early 1900s and how things use to run around here. My grandfather was born in the 1940s, their was no such thing called color blindness in the backwoods of Upstate, South Carolina. As a black male or female, you had no rights but the ones given to you by a white man. Do I agree entirely with this philosophy and the events that took place? No. But I am not totally against everything that Jim Crow had made law. To read through the book countless details about human beings loosing their lives in an inhumane manner disturbs me. I would not have been an advocate for lynching, burning blacks alive, or even beating them to death, but honestly, I would have owned slaves to do my farm labor, cooking, and other duties around the farm. In my opinion, the black culture is what it is today because of the hardship and struggles they faced through out history. I have a sympathetic heart-but I do not regret it happening. Should innocent people lose their live over skin color? No, but it is something that places a massive role in US history for over four centuries. Without slavery, our culture, history books, and the way of live now would be completely different. Black customs and culture is very different from whites. This is due to their history, but the attitudes, actions, and the approach of the black culture really bothers me sometimes. I can only feel sorry for people who try and help themselves. Black Americans have clearly given up and this book is full of examples from war to education. Is it astonishing that "the number of blacks unemployed (more than double that of whites); the number of blacks living in poverty; the number of blacks confined to a minimum wage service job; or the number of blacks who are on welfare, government housing, and health care exceeds the number of whites" (pg. 127) by a mile? I do not understand the concept behind the thought of feeling sorry for people who do not take care of themselves. Does that mean a white man is better? No! Absolutely not. I believe that we are all created equally and in God's image-just some people take the advantages given in life and others do not. You have to make something of yourself to be something of yourself and to me; blacks and whites alike have not grasped that concept. Another example within the novel and just got all over my skin was the fact that Hurricane Katrina was blamed on the white man. Okay, go back and read that sentence again. Hurricane, HURRICANE Katrina was at the white mans fault. On page 140 you will find the example of Katrina that covers nearly two full pages. It is stated that the government

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)