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Whistling Dixie: Dispatches from the South Paperback – Sep 1992


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Product details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (Sept. 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156961741
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156961745
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 573,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 7 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Southern wit and wisdom 20 Aug. 2001
By Julian P Killingley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book cannot be recommended too highly to anyone with the slightest interest in the South. It is, in every sense, a delight to read and will easily withstand repeated readings.
This is the third of John Shelton Reed's books that I have read and its style sits somewhere between that of "1001 Things Everyone Should Know About the South" and "My Tears Spoiled My Aim". The book comprises a collection of dispatches culled from Reed's contributions to newspapers, journals and magazines between 1979-1990. Most of these are 1,000-1,500 words long. The book begins with observations on two of his favorite themes, Southern identity and the New South, before moving on to Southern culture, food, politics and religion. Reed is a favorably prejudiced but acute observer of Southern manners, quirks, oddities and behaviour.
The dispatches are written to entertain and don't disappoint. I found plenty at which to laugh out loud. However, this is not to say that Reed is not surreptitiously engaged in a secret mission to raise his readers' awareness of the character and virtues of things Southern. There's plenty enough here even to make a Yankee laugh - especially some of his more elliptical humor. I particularly liked his comment on Ted Kennedy: "For my part, I rather like the fellow. He's certainly the closest thing to a good old boy that Massachussetts will ever produce - which isn't to say that he ought to be president, merely that I think he'd make a pretty good drinking buddy as long as somebody else did the driving."
Reed is exceptionally good at capturing the spirit or the essence of something and making it seem familiar to you. I have never visited Bob Jones University but, in just over three pages, Reed made me feel I knew what kind of place it was. He does the same for a number of Southern characters and institutions.
Reed is a gifted cultural interpreter who appraches his topics with respect, affection and good humor. It's tempting to say that Reed is a popularizer but that belies his considerable writing talents. Whilst everything is written in an engaging style, Reed makes few concessions to his readership - he delights in his use of language and deploys an extensive vocabularly that would make some of my students reach for their dictionaries.
All in all this book is an unqualified delight. Go buy it now - you won't be disappointed.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
So Influential 24 May 2000
By John A. Walker III - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'm viscerally saddened that I am the first person to review this book. It is probably the most tender yet forceful books I've ever read about the South. Funny and articulate, Reed gets to the heart of every matter he writes on, a fact which is clear whether you agree with him or not. I'm a Southerner being held captive for four years out here in California, and books like "Whistling Dixie" just make my heart skip a beat every time I read them, just thinking about my homeland. And, Northerners, I really do think y'all would like this book. It's a good-hearted introduction to the South. It's absolutely biased, but who wants to read a textbook about the South?
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
J. S. Reed was my Favorite Professor. 25 July 2001
By "gsvgracefularc" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
When I took Sociology of the South under Dr. Reed at the University of North Carolina, he immediately won the respect of everyone who heard him speak, by virtue of the mix of humor and humble generosity with which he offered up quite a prodigious wealth of knowledge, and because of his graceful personal style. These qualities are evident in his writing.
Now that I live in gritty Gotham, and am faced daily with a culture amazingly alien to the one in which I was raised below the Mason-Dixon, I think every day of the issues he explored in his class (and in his books). He has done depthy and earnest sociological study of issues which plague the minds of Southerners and people who know them: Why Are Country Lyrics So Sad? Why Are Cheating Husbands More Likely To Get Shot Down South? What Exactly Is A 'Southerner,' and Why Won't They Shut Up About That Old War? (and) What, Exactly, Is The Big Deal With Kudzu? I highly recommend this book, as well as My Tears Spoiled My Aim.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Makes you proud(er) to be a Southerner 8 May 2003
By Andrew S. Rogers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I've long been a fan of John Shelton Reed's "Letter from the Lower Right" in Chronicles magazine, and gave very high marks to "1,001 Things Everyone Should Know About the South," which he wrote with his wife. But for some reason, I had never made an effort to track down and read any of the collections of his essays. I see now what a mistake that was. I wish I'd read this back when it was new.
It was some consolation to find that the articles and essays here assembled were definitely worth the wait. Reed is a very funny writer, but he's not a "humorist" or humor writer in the sense of, say, Dave Barry or even (to move outside the region) P.J. O'Rourke. You'll definitely get a laugh out of many of these pieces, but you'll also find them deeply informative. Reed is, after all, a serious researcher and thinker, and the two indisputable facts that define his writing -- that he loves the South, and he *knows* the South -- feed off one another.
Granted, many of the essays here are more than a little dated (some date back to the Carter Administration), and I'd love to know how things have changed in the thirteen, fifteen, or almost twenty-five years since some of them were written. But that's no doubt just one more reason to track down Reed's more recent collections.
Southerners, including expatriates, will nod knowingly at much of what Reed says, and will get a kick out of seeing themselves depicted so accurately in print. I hope they'll also take to heart his commitment to preserving many of the things -- from culture to accent -- that make the South truly distinctive. Folks from other parts of the country will find that Reed has not only made that sometimes-puzzling region a little easier to understand, but has made the trip a remarkably pleasant one.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
hilarious 15 May 2003
By Sam Duncan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr. Reed sure can write. I don't always agree with him; to turn around what he says about Steve Earle, Reed's politics are suspect. And more importantly how can he believe that Randy Travis is better than Earle and Dwight Yoakam? Still even when I didn't agree with the book I enjoyed reading it. The essays on country music and Ted Kennedy are worth the price of the book by themselves. Best of all it's wonderful to see someone defending my home region who isn't a confederate flag waving idiot.
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