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Each of the essays adopts a different perspective to suggest just how the South is different from other American regions. In turn, they examine the special meaning of history for Southerners, the boundaries of the South as a geographical and as an imaginary region, the rhetoric and the reality of Southern race relations, the South's change from a rural to a metropolitan culture, the myth of the Southern belle and the reality of Southern women's lives, the political metamorphosis that turned the Solid South into the Solid Republican South, and the recent transformation of the poorest region in the country into an economic wonder called the Sunbelt.
Readers will learn that when Southerners ask strangers what church they attend, the intent is not to pry but to be friendly. They will also discover that "where the kudzu grows" is one of the best ways to define where the South is located.
The essays offer the insights of both shcolarship and experience, for the contributors -- most of them originally non-Southerners -- learned about this region by living in it as well as studying it.
The contributors are Julia Kirk Blackwelder, Paul D. Escott, David R. Goldfield, Nell Irvin Painter, John Shelton Reed, and Thomas E. Terrill.