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268CIVIL WAR HISTORY conference. The various papers touched on the topics of politics, territorial expansion, the nature of society, economic characteristics, and the role of religion in the Old Southwest. Unfortunately, there is really no unifying theme beyond the Gulf Coast States, and not all of the papers , strictly speaking, actually deal with these states. Bertram WyattBrown 's essay "Religion and the Formation of Folk Culture: Poor Whites of the Old South," uses an example from North Carolina to illustrate his theme that poor whites "exercised a profound influence upon all aspects of Southern Life." Nonetheless, several conclusions do emerge from the essays. One is that Americanization occurred at a varying rate throughout the region and was not always welcomed by the old residents. A second conclusion is that Americans dominated the economic life of the area from a very early period, but that it remained backward in relationship to the economy of the eastern and midwestern sections of the United States. Finally, social attitudes also quickly were adjusted to those of the older southern states, though some "vestiges" of Spanish and French culture remained. "By the end of the period . . . most of the residents of the Gulf Coast region identified with the upper South if not completely with the rest of the nation." Professor Ellsworth has succeeded in bringing together many different types of papers into a fairly unified whole. One might wish more had been attempted in the introduction, and that the final chapter, though a delightful after dinner talk by Cary Carson entitled "Historical Archaeology and the Amateur," had been omitted from the volume. Donald W. Curl Florida Atlantic University. The Politics of a Literary Man: William Gilmore Simms. By Jon L. Wakelyn. (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, Inc. 1973. Pp. xiv, 306. $10.00.) This book is neither a biography of Simms nor an attempt to evaluate his literary production. Instead it is an extended analysis of the causes Simms advocated. The author argues that Simms understood his primary purpose to be the defense of his homeland through his writings. It was never a question of his subordinating his literary genius for political purpose, says Wakelyn, for Simms defined his public service as primary . Writing was an adjunct to a larger goal, the preservation of the southern—and particularly South Carolinian—way of life. Within the context of this conceptual framework, Wakelyn provides a concise summary of Simms's political career and gives excellent precis of Simms's books, articles, and reviews, showing the particular cause each espoused or the political issue that elicited their publication. The book is wellwritten and based upon immense research. (The 466 footnotes repre- BOOK REVIEWS269 sent one quarter of the text, leaving less than 200 pages for the book's argument.) Certainly all this is useful and often enlightening, but the overall impression is one of disappointment. South Carolina in recent years has been the focus of some extraordinary scholarship—Sirmans, Freehling, Channing, Rose—and as a result one's expectation has become perhaps unreasonably high. The works of Freehling and Channing are especially relevant, for they predispose the reader to expect trenchant discussions of feelings of crisis, paranoia, and guilt. The more general works of TindaII and Gaston have made us attune to the role of myth and its creation. The pioneering efforts of Henry Nash Smith and John W. Ward, along with William R. Taylor and others, have shown how sophisticated analysis of myths, political rhetoric, and literature can offer penetrating insight into the culture of a given time or place. The biographical approach can reveal the subtle nuances and intellectual tensions which characterize a society. It is in this context that Wakelyn's book seems to fail. It is simply not sufficient to say that "Whether Simms was forced to conform or whether he helped to create an aura of conformity in the South is not a viable question," (p. xii) when one ultimately concludes that "Dedicated and myopic to the end, he died as he had lived, in a romantic haze of his own propaganda of self-deception" (p. 264). I do not mean to say that Wakelyn ignores such matters, for he does mention them. But...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 268-269
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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