The Most Southern Place on Earth: The Mississippi Delta and the Roots of Regional Identity

Overview


"Cotton obsessed, Negro obsessed," Rupert Vance called it in 1935. "Nowhere but in the Mississippi Delta," he said, "are antebellum conditions so nearly preserved." This crescent of bottomlands between Memphis and Vicksburg, lined by the Yazoo and Mississippi rivers, remains in some ways what it was in 1860: a land of rich soil, wealthy planters, and desperate poverty--the blackest and poorest counties in all the South. And yet it is a cultural treasure house as well--the home of Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Charley...
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Overview


"Cotton obsessed, Negro obsessed," Rupert Vance called it in 1935. "Nowhere but in the Mississippi Delta," he said, "are antebellum conditions so nearly preserved." This crescent of bottomlands between Memphis and Vicksburg, lined by the Yazoo and Mississippi rivers, remains in some ways what it was in 1860: a land of rich soil, wealthy planters, and desperate poverty--the blackest and poorest counties in all the South. And yet it is a cultural treasure house as well--the home of Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Charley Pride, Walker Percy, Elizabeth Spencer, and Shelby Foote. Painting a fascinating portrait of the development and survival of the Mississippi Delta, a society and economy that is often seen as the most extreme in all the South, James C. Cobb offers a comprehensive history of the Delta, from its first white settlement in the 1820s to the present. Exploring the rich black culture of the Delta, Cobb explains how it survived and evolved in the midst of poverty and oppression, beginning with the first settlers in the overgrown, disease-ridden Delta before the Civil War to the bitter battles and incomplete triumphs of the civil rights era.
In this comprehensive account, Cobb offers new insight into "the most southern place on earth," untangling the enigma of grindingly poor but prolifically creative Mississippi Delta.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This is a solidly researched and well-written book that delineates one of the most disturbing chapters and places in American history. It deserves to be widely read not only as a story of this most southern place but also as a story of the United States."--The Journal of Southwest Georgia History

"The work is best as a clear-thinking and sensitive history of racial and worker exploitation and as an argument that such exploitation has not been a great exception to the rest of American history but a particularly vivid culmination of it."--Ted Ownby, University of Mississippi

"Well researched, great little details and stories make it fascinating. A good historical perspective of Delta region."--Ron Bernthal, Sullivan County Community College

"Fascinating."--Philip Scranton, Rutgers University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195089134
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 8/4/1994
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 605,341
  • Lexile: 1700L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 5.31 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Author:
James C. Cobb is Bernadotte Schmitt Professor of History at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. His books include The Selling of the South, Industrialization and Southern Society, and The New Deal and the South.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: "Pure Soil, Endlessly Deep, Dark, and Sweet" 3
1 Plantation Frontier 7
2 "The Stern Realities of War" 29
3 A "Harnessed Revolution" 47
4 Conquering the Plantation Frontier 69
5 New South Plantation Kingdom 98
6 A World Apart 125
7 "The Deepest South" 153
8 "We Are at the Crossroads" 184
9 "A Man's Life Isn't Worth a Penny with a Hole in It" 209
10 "A Testing Ground for Democracy" 230
11 "Somebody Done Nailed Us on the Cross" 253
12 "The Blues Is a Lowdown Shakin' Chill" 277
13 "More Writers per Square Foot..." 306
Epilogue: An American Region 329
Notes 335
Index 381
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2000

    Highly Informative

    I am professionally concerned with understanding the regional geography of America and in this work I have gone through far too many ponderous tomes. It was therefore with great delight that I read Cobb's account of Delta history. His book gave me a feel for the region that I have gotten from no other source. Rodger Doyle, Buffalo, N.Y.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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