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J. P. Morgan refreshed themselves on the sea islands, now reborn as playgrounds and nature preserves. The illusions ofthe planters were swept away just as the illusions ofthe Trustees had been more than a century earlier. Will the new illusion ofmastery by capitalism and technology disintegrate too? Stewart seems to imply that it will. Ably written and thoroughly researched, Stewart's book is ample in both secondary and primary documentation. His approach is, from the viewpoint of an environmental historian, somewhat limited by his definition of landscape as the field ofinteraction between nature and culture—specifically, between nature and the culture the European colonists created. Treatment of the Native American landscape that preceded European setdement is limited, and wildlife is viewed as a food source and a danger to crops rather than an essential aspect of the environment in which a succession of human cultures thrived. Forests are treated as a fuel source and an index to fertility; Stewart's fullest discussion of forest history comes late in the book, with his account of the upland longleaf pinewoods under the hands ofloggers in the days of the New South. As Stewart no doubt intended , the book is primarily an (agri)cultural history with environmental overtones; nature sets the limits of human striving but is never a full participant in the story. Yet the work as it stands offers a detailed and thoroughly readable case study of some important themes in a particularly appropriate local setting. The notes and bibliography by themselves form a treasury ofinformation. Many more such books are needed, and the South, with its patchwork quilt of subregions and its palimpsest of history, offers endless opportunities for writing them. Iron and Steel Class, Race, and Community in Birmingham, Alabama, 1875—1920 By Henry M. McKivenJr. University ofNorth Carolina Press, 1995 223 pp. Cloth, $37.50; paper, $14.95 Reviewed by TIm Minchin, lecturer in American history at St. Andrews University, Scodand. Minchin studies labor in the American South and is the author of What Do We Need a Union For?: The TWUA in the South, i94j-i?rr. Reviews 99 For many years, historians have argued that southern employers used the ideology ofwhite supremacy to divide their workforce. Realizing that effective worker protest depended on whites and blacks forging a unified labor movement, employers maintained racial divisions among employees as a means to control the entire working class. The main contribution oíIron andSteelis to challenge this interpretation . McKiven argues that it was white workers themselves who were largely responsible for relegating blacks to the most menial jobs in Birmingham's iron and steel industries. Skilled white workers, in particular, did not trust employers ' commitment to white supremacy, fearing that companies had an interest in replacing them with cheaper black labor. White workers therefore used unions to control the hiring process and confine African American workers to unskilled jobs. As McKiven concludes, "white workers played a primary role in defining 'nigger work' and in the institutionalization ofBirmingham's color bar." One strength of McKiven's work is the attention it gives to life outside the workplace. Skillfully avoiding a narrow focus on the shop floor, the author explores the ways in which white workers fought to maintain their superior status through housing patterns, politics, and community life. Chapters devoted to these areas bolster McKiven's thesis about the importance of white workers in determining Birmingham's racial order. According to McKiven, many blacks supported reform movements in politics, whereas skilled white workers remained loyal to a local Democratic party that banned blacks from party primaries and reflected white workers' "commitment to the subordination of blacks in the workplace and the community." Chapters on community life make good use of maps and census data, illuminating the social history of Birmingham's working class in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The second part ofthe book traces the rise ofthe steel industry in the first two decades of the twentieth century. With the breakthrough of the open-hearth method of steel production, the industry was able to move away from the dependence on small numbers of skilled workers that had characterized the latenineteenth -century metal trades. According to McKiven...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 99-101
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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