The 1970s witnessed an explosion of extraordinary historical scholarship on black slavery, culture, and the complex relationship between races in U.S. history. Among the best of the great books published was Berkeley professor Litwack's Been in the Storm So Long (Random, 1979), which examined the development of black society and culture roughly from the Civil War to the end of the 19th century. The new volume begins a century ago as race relations deteriorated toward strict segregation and a brutality that rivaled slavery. As in his earlier book, Litwack is strongest describing how the black community built and preserved its integrity while under constant assault from hostile whites. This long-awaited sequel shows that the author is a master of making the most of sources that only a generation ago were considered too meager to merit serious historical examination. A useful discography follows the thorough bibliography of primary and secondary sources. Highly recommended for most public and academic audiences.
--Charles K. Piehl, Mankato State University, Minn.
In a sequel to his Been in the Storm So Long (1979), Litwack (American history, U. of California-Berkeley) examines how black men and women lived within the severe restrictions of segregation during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He draws on contemporary documents and first-person narratives to reveal both the conditions and how people survived and maintained their humanity and dignity. Includes a few photographs. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Trouble in Mind picks up the story at the end of Reconstruction, when black political power was shattered by what whites called "Redemption," the return of white Southern control....[it] tells the somber tale of decline and repression... This era, in which black disfranchisement and full-scale segregation came into being...was the most harrowing period of African-American life since slavery itself -- the nadir, the pioneering black historian Rayford Logan called it decades ago. The word is fitting. Litwack's is a heartbreaking book about a heartbreaking time.
--Edward L. Ayers, The New York Times Book Review
A heartbreaking portrayal of segregation, disfranchisement and sheer meanness between Reconstruction and World War I.
"Moving, elegant, earthy, and pointed; it is also shocking, upsetting and unsettling... It forces us to recon with the escapable burdens of the past." -- San Diego Union-Tribune
"Brilliant... Mr. Litwack provides the fullest account of how white Southerners cheated black farmers, starved black schools, disfranchised black voters and brutalized black men and women to assure their own dominance." -- Washington Times
"An absolutely essential account of [Jim Crow's] dreadful history and calamitous legacy... Trouble In Mind is a continuation of Litwack's masterwork. It is the story [of] the most violent and repressive period of race relations in the history of the United States." -- Washington Post Book World
"A profoundly compelling book... a truly worthy successor to his Pulitzer Prize-winning work." -- Seattle Times
"An important contribution... with impressive skill Litwack draws upon a rich but hitherto largely unexplored lode of oral history to reconstruct the era." -- Boston Globe
The expansive sequel to Litwack's Pulitzer-winning Been in the Storm So Long (1979) touches all the bases of southern African-American life during the period he calls "the nadir of black life." Any recounting of the years between the dismantling of Reconstruction's reforms in the 1870s and the migration to northern cities that commenced with WW I, is necessarily preoccupied with white power. That's because southern whites, through Jim Crow laws and violence, controlled every aspect of black life. Just how extensive, demeaning, and abhorrent was white repression is made painfully, abundantly clear by the testimony of the "common" blacks Litwack quotes. Their testimony details white resistance to black progress in every conceivable endeavor, from social interaction to education, work, justice, even which games of chance blacks could play (craps was OK; poker, "a white man's game," was not). Jim Crow's more absurd contortions (the existence of separate courtroom Bibles for swearing in black and white witnesses; a request for separate gallows for condemned prisoners) would seem pathetic but for the sadistic violence that backed them. A chapter on lynching features the tale of Sam Hose, a black laborer who murdered his white boss in self-defense. Wrongly accused of raping the man's wife, Hose was mutilated, stabbed, and burned alive in front of 2,000 cheering whites. His body was sold piecemeal to souvenir seekers; an Atlanta meat market displayed his knuckles in its front window for a week. Such brutality, Litwack notes, was regularly perpetrated by the South's "best" citizens in the name of curbing black savagery. Despite the totality of white domination, one wishes Litwack hadresponded more thoroughly to black subornation of white power. Still, by gathering these disparate voices together, he makes an invaluable contribution to the written record of this country's most reprehensible moral outrage.