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4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, but not for beginners., 18 July 2007
This book has become a classic in it's own lifetime in the States and it has gone through several editions. The final one, the 3rd, contains additional essays where the author considers his earlier ideas in the light of more recent events. Woodward states at one point that a truth only has a lifespan of around twenty years, so the updates are thought-provoking indeed.
In sum, this book is a collection of essays by one of the leading historians of the US South. Unless you have a good grasp of US history (reconstruction and civil rights in particular) the point of this book will be missed. Woodward plays with the concept of irony a great deal and muses over the idea that the US as a whole in the present day is suffering from the same dillemma the South did prior to the civil war - convinced of their own righteousness but despised by the world.
In trying to isolate what makes the South disitnctive, Woodward dimisses many ideas before settling on their history - the South, unlike the US as a whole, knew defeat and occupation by hostile forces. This idea was put forward pruior to Vietnam and the later essays take this into account.
This volume is essential if you want a thoughtful analysis of US history, and should certainly be read by any student of the civil rigths movement.
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The Burden of Southern History
The Burden of Southern History by C. Vann Woodward (Hardcover - 1960)
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