cover image The Southernization of America: A Story of Democracy in the Balance

The Southernization of America: A Story of Democracy in the Balance

Frye Gaillard and Cynthia Tucker. NewSouth, $25.95 (136p) ISBN 978-1-58838-456-0

Journalists and Alabama natives Gaillard (A Hard Rain) and Tucker explore in this eloquent and perceptive essay collection “the undeniable Southern influence—for better or worse—on the life and political climate of America.” Covering the 1970s to the present, the authors track the intertwining of Southern and Republican values and profile key players including Georgia congressman Newt Gingrich, whose “scorched-earth tactics” against Democrats set the tone for animosity between the parties for decades. Gaillard and Tucker also consider how political polarization was exacerbated by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; note that the presidential campaigns of Alabama governor George Wallace and Donald Trump both relied on support from the South and stoked racial tensions in order to maintain it; and analyze “rightwing disinformation” about electoral fraud, critical race theory, and Covid-19. Elsewhere, the authors discuss the “feeding frenzy of hate and disdain” directed at the country music group Dixie Chicks after they spoke out against the Iraq War and the 2015 shooting at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, S.C., by a white supremacist. Concluding with a plea for “a sense of moral urgency” in pursuit of racial equality, this is a trenchant study of the South’s firm grip on the American consciousness. (Feb.)