Discovering the South: One Man's Travels through a Changing America in the 1930s

Discovering the South: One Man's Travels through a Changing America in the 1930s

by Jennifer Ritterhouse

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During the Great Depression, the American South was not merely "the nation's number one economic problem," as President Franklin Roosevelt declared. It was also a battlefield on which forces for and against social change were starting to form. For a white southern liberal like Jonathan Daniels, editor of the Raleigh News and Observer, it was a fascinating moment to explore. Attuned to culture as well as politics, Daniels knew the true South lay somewhere between Erskine Caldwell's Tobacco Road and Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind. On May 5, 1937, he set out to find it, driving thousands of miles in his trusty Plymouth and ultimately interviewing even Mitchell herself.

In Discovering the South historian Jennifer Ritterhouse pieces together Daniels's unpublished notes from his tour along with his published writings and a wealth of archival evidence to put this one man's journey through a South in transition into a larger context. Daniels's well chosen itinerary brought him face to face with the full range of political and cultural possibilities in the South of the 1930s, from New Deal liberalism and social planning in the Tennessee Valley Authority, to Communist agitation in the Scottsboro case, to planters' and industrialists' reactionary worldview and repressive violence. The result is a lively narrative of black and white southerners fighting for and against democratic social change at the start of the nation's long civil rights era.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469630953
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 02/08/2017
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Jennifer Ritterhouse is professor of history at George Mason University and the author of Growing Up Jim Crow: How Black and White Southern Children Learned Race.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

This is a fascinating, rich account of the mid-twentieth-century South. Beautifully and inventively conceived, this book uses Jonathan Daniels to consider a crucial moment when the South (and the country) was on the verge of major changes. Ritterhouse's book gives us a unique lens through which to explore the conflicts and uncertainties of where the South was headed in the late 1930s and 1940s.—William A. Link, University of Florida

Customer Reviews