By turns seduced and repelled by Southern politics and culture, former longtime New York Times Atlanta bureau chief and transplanted Yankee Applebome grapples engagingly and appreciatively here with the stunning contradictions of the modern South. Not only does the South exercise disproportionate political power (Dixie now claims leadership of Congress as well as the White House); most of our serious conflicts over race and religion continue to play out dramatically in the old Confederacy. Applebome's unusual historical literacy helps him understand a region drenched in the tradition and legends of the Civil War, racist demagoguery and the battles over integration. Outsiders will be astonished by the new popularity of the Confederacy. Southerners black and white will recognize themselves in portraits of Selma, Ala., then and now, Nashville's music, South Carolina firebrands, Southern Baptist conventions and the saga of George Wallace. Above all, it is race that saturates Southern life. Because the author zeroes in on race and lets Southerners tell their own stories, this is a compelling, disturbing, at times inspiring book. As he stresses, no place in the U.S. has been so defined by race--and ""the racial scapegoating... that crippled the South for so long will do the same thing for the nation."" Photos. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/04/1996 Release date: 11/01/1996 Genre: Nonfiction
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