The Future of the Past

C. Vann Woodward, Author Oxford University Press, USA $30 (384p) ISBN 978-0-19-505744-7
Eminent historian Woodward debunks the lingering ``antislavery myth'' that portrays the Northern states as a bastion of tolerance before and after the Civil War. It was Southerners, not Yanks, who launched the antislavery press in America, he shows, arguing further that the postbellum, segregated South adopted many devices originally developed in the North to keep blacks ``in their place.'' Turning to Dixie, he blasts the aristocratic pretensions of the elite classes by comparing them to equally pretentious Russian serf-owners. In other pieces he profiles ``subversive'' Thomas Jefferson, assesses the enormous failure of Reconstruction and gauges the sudden impetus for the Southern literary renaissance. A major theme of these 22 erudite essays, addresses, reviews and papers is the myth of the U.S. as ``an innocent nation in a wicked world,'' and how decision-makers must change their thinking to accommodate the fact that we are no longer militarily unassailable. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-19-506903-7
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