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248Southern Cultures their eyes and engage the person on the other side of the camera. The unposed pictures record spontaneous scenes, such as a man leaning out a second-story window and shouting some wisecrack to his laughing coworkers on the sidewalk below. It's no accident that, in talking about his project, Bamberger constantly refers to "my friend James" and "my good friend Robert." His subjects have also become his collaborators. Indeed, unlike Sander and Evans, he often includes people's names in the picture titles. Rupert, Harry, Donna— they are encountered on a first-name basis. Even more remarkable is the extent of affection witnessed among the workers themselves. Outside of an athletic field, American men in public rarely come closer than a handshake or a clap on the shoulder. At White Furniture the men also tend to keep their distance, but not always. When eating their bag lunches, for example, four men straddle "trucks" in the machine room and form a tight square of bodies. A few days after the plant has closed, Fletcher hunches over papers on his desk, one hand shading his face while Avery stands somberly over him, arms folded in wordless commiseration. And in an astounding image, Carlos—a smiling young African American—reaches out to fix the hair of a white man. When the factory shut down, the workers dispersed quietly. This is not a story of class conflict. From owners down to "tailboys," they were all members of the White Furniture family, joined by their craft, their machines, and their relationships. All fell victim to the Chicago conglomerate's takeover. The lucky ones have found jobs here and there. Others have endured joblessness or decided to retire. The two-story brick factory, meanwhile , stands silent and empty, waiting to be torn down some day or, perhaps by inexorable post-industrial logic, to be transformed into a shopping mall. Whatever happens, the workers will survive as voices and images. The Southern Oral History Program is recording interviews with them and will deposit the tapes at the Mebane Public Library as well as the University of North Carolina's Southern Historical Collection. Moreover, Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies will publish Bamberger 's photographs as a book, with a text by Cathy Davidson. After having been torn apart and sold off piece by piece, as Robert Riley said, their experience will be reassembled on tape and paper—memento mori. Indians, Settlers, and Slaves in a Frontier Exchange Economy: The Lower Mississippi Valley Before 1783. By Daniel H. Usner Jr. University of North Carolina Press, 1992. 294 pp. Cloth, $32.50; paper, $12.95. Reviewed by Eric Hinderaker of the department of history at the University of Utah. He is currently working on a study ofFrench, British, and American empires in the Ohio Valley during the eighteenth century. When W. J. Cash set out more than fifty years ago to characterize southern society and culture , he chose the image of the frontier as his defining metaphor and rejected popular visions of refined and pedigreed gentlemen moving through a timeless and elegant landscape . To understand the South, he insisted, one must recognize that its history is, to paraphrase Hobbes, nasty, brutish, and short. He portrayed a society not far removed from the frontier, still shaped by its defining influence. Daniel Usner's fine book suggests that Cash Reviews249 may have chosen the right metaphor, but missed much of its potential subtlety, complexity , and richness. Usner argues that American historians from Cash and Carl Bridenbaugh forward have told an Anglocentric story of southern development that underestimates the importance of French and Spanish influences in the Gulf South. When the French and Spanish do appear, they are often depicted as representatives of empire or as heroic individuals appearing briefly on a transatlantic stage; the activities and significance of everyday life are lost. Usner successfully redresses those omissions in his study of French Louisiana. He masterfully negotiates the connection between empires and ordinary people, and in the process he recovers an extraordinary story of interaction among Indians, Europeans, and Africans in a richly textured account of colony-building from the bottom up. He says that early Louisiana...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 248-251
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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