The Deepest South of All: True Stories from Natchez, Mississippi

Richard Grant. Simon & Schuster, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5011-7782-8
Smithsonian writer Grant (Dispatches from Pluto) spotlights the complex cultural and political heritage of Natchez, Miss., in this entertaining and informative travelogue. A “racially divided” town that still strongly identifies with its Confederate past, Natchez presents itself as a bastion of tradition, yet also has a vibrant gay community, according to Grant. He notes the stark contrast between impoverished black neighborhoods and the opulent antebellum mansions for which the town is best known, and points out that Natchez once hosted the largest KKK rally in American history, yet voted not to secede from the Union during the Civil War. Grant profiles fascinating figures from the city’s past and present, including Mayor Darryl Grennell, a gay black man elected with 91% of the vote; 19th–century ship captain John Russell, who threatened to pull a riverfront gambler’s joint into the water with his steamboat; and William Johson, a freed slave who opened “a small empire of barbershops” catering to the city’s white elite. Readers will be enthralled by Grant’s lively prose and the colorful contradictions of this unique and haunted place. Agent: Lisa Bankoff, ICM Partners (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 05/14/2020
Release date: 09/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-0859-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-7971-0861-2
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