Mockingbird Song: Ecological Landscapes of the South / Edition 1

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The American South is generally warmer, wetter, weedier, snakier, and more insect infested and disease prone than other regions of the country. It is alluring to the scientifically and poetically minded alike. With Mockingbird Song, Jack Temple Kirby offers a personal and passionate recounting of the centuries-old human-nature relationship in the South. Exhibiting violent cycles of growth, abandonment, dereliction, resettlement, and reconfiguration, this relationship, Kirby suggests, has the sometimes melodious, sometimes cacophonous vocalizations of the region's emblematic avian, the mockingbird.

In a narrative voice marked by the intimacy and enthusiasm of a storyteller, Kirby explores all of the South's peoples and their landscapes—how humans have used, yielded, or manipulated varying environments and how they have treated forests, water, and animals. Citing history, literature, and cinematic portrayals along the way, Kirby also relates how southerners have thought about their part of Earth—as a source of both sustenance and delight.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Kirby uses a multidisciplinary approach employing information . . . from such diverse fields as agronomy, archaeology, geology, sociology, and even literature to enhance his rich knowledge of southern history in order to enlighten readers about these important, relevant issues. Highly recommended."—Choice

"[A] brilliant exploration of plants, animals, and people. . . . Mockingird Song has a rousing vitality that makes it destined to be a classic work of environmental history."—Journal of Southern History

"A grand synthesis with perfect timing. It summarizes, appreciates, and expands on the recent bloom of scholarship that looks at the unique environmental history of the American South."—Journal of American History

"Not only represents a commendable distillation of decades of scholarship but introduces important new topics and approaches for the maturing field of southern environmental history."—American Historical Review

"Makes many of the central themes of current scholarship in the field accessible to a general readership. . . . An amiable, entertaining, and pleasantly unpredictable guide to the South."—Canadian Journal of History

"Kirby's imaginative, interdisciplinary book is a passionate recounting of the centuries-old relationship between the human and nature in the South"—Rocky Mount Telegram

"A personal and passionate recounting of the human-nature relationship in the South is offered as a narrative that explores all of the South's peoples and their landscapes and also relates what southerners have thought about their part of the earth"—Forecast

"Though Mockingbird Song is set in the South, it is about more than the South. . . . Kirby reflects profoundly on the relationships of Americans—and of humankind—to the natural world. . . . An original in the growing field of environmental history, elegantly conceived and beautifully written."—Bancroft Prize Committee

"A fast-paced, quirky and sometimes inspired romp through topics that are at times only loosely connected but are always interesting."—Southern Cultures

"Kirby is one of our most distinguished historians of the American South, and his new book is an altogether original one, beautifully crafted, superbly written, and of timely interest. . . . [Mockingbird's Song: Ecological Landscapes of the South] is a significant scholarly work, but also a great read."—Southern Register

"From king cotton to Kentucky's trademark fried chicken, plantation life to 'poor white trash,' the products, politics, poetry, and polemics that created and define the region are rigorously examined in Kirby's extensively researched profile of a singular land and its people."—Booklist

"Entertaining and insightful commentary. [Kirby's] stories are for anyone who loves the South and its history."—Southern Pines Pilot

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807859223
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 10/30/2006
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jack Temple Kirby is W. E. Smith Professor Emeritus of History at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and currently lives on Anastasia Island in Florida. He is author or editor of eight books, including Rural Worlds Lost: The American South, 1920-1960 and Poquosin: A Study of Rural Landscape and Society (from the University of North Carolina Press).

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Table of Contents

Preface     xi
Prologue: An Orientation Mostly along St. Johns River     1
Original Civilizations     38
Plantation Traditions     75
Commoners and the Commons     113
Matanzas and Mastery     156
Enchantment and Equilibrium     201
Cities of Clay     257
Epilogue: Postmodern Landscapes     312
Notes     331
Index     357
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