Honor and Slavery Lies, Duels, Noses, Masks, Dressing as a Woman, Gifts, Strangers, Humanitarianism, Death, Slave Rebellions, The Proslavery Argument, Baseball, Hunting and Gambling in the Old South (review)
- Southern Cultures
- The University of North Carolina Press
- Volume 4, Number 3, 1998
- pp. 89-91
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- Additional Information
standing of power and status, adherence to mainstream Protestantism, and a demonstrated loyalty to the principles and procedures of Virginia political culture ." Gail S. Terry's provocative examination of two elite families demonstrates how post-Revolutionary tensions led to increasingly republican rhetoric without changing the hierarchical realities of political leadership. Her analysis in "An Old Family Confronts the New Politics" shows why the egalitarian implications many associate with American independence actually came decades after the war ended, and how "ties of kinship and interest continued to shape political practices well beyond the period of the early republic." The remaining two pieces in the collection examine the architecture of houses and barns to reveal both the application of European patterns and innovations undertaken to meet frontier conditions. Michael Puglisi and his contributors succeed in exposing the diversity of the frontier and the inescapable need for accommodations to thrive there. Perhaps they will convince us to banish forever the image of a frontier line separating civilization from its contraries. Certainly these authors lead us to question whether any dweller in that distant time and place could ever truly "settle" such a land. We glimpse in these discrete studies a world ofceaseless flux and change, and are left to hope that the grand synthesis yet to emerge will be as rich and compelling. Honor and Slavery Lies, Duels, Noses, Masks, Dressing as a Woman, Gifts, Strangers, Humanitarianism, Death, Slave Rebellions, The Proslavery Argument, Baseball, Hunting and Gambling in the Old South By Kenneth S. Greenberg Princeton University Press, 1996 176 pp. Cloth, $35; paper, $14.95 Reviewed by Catherine Clinton, Douglas Southall Freeman Visiting Professor of History at the University ofRichmond. Clinton, president of the Southern Association for Women Historians (1997—98), is looking forward to the publication of her next three projects in the fall of 1998: Civil WarStories, Taking off the White Gloves: Southern Women and Women Historians, and /, Too, SingAmerica: Three Centuries ofAfrican American Poetry. Reviews 89 "Lies, Duels, Noses, Masks, Dressing as a Woman, Gifts, Strangers, Humanitarianism , Death, Slave Rebellions, The ProslaveryArgument, Baseball, Hunting and Gambling in the Old South": What's not to love about a subtitle like this? But even if we love it, what in the world is the author trying to do? Reviews of Ken Greenberg's Honor and Slavery acknowledge that the book is so full of playful, powerful connections that it can make readers dizzy and scholars faint. It remains the sign of an original book that reviewers leap to extremes to describe it. Some find Greenberg winning, others wanting. Some denounce him for errors, while others anoint him. Greenberg sets no modest goal, casting himself as a translator of the Old South's language of honor, decoding the complexity of ritual and power within antebellum plantation culture. He is at the same time so serious about his intent and so witty with his execution that he invites both applause and invective. Most reviewers see Greenberg as one hell of a tour guide who beguiles as he turns the seamless web ofslaveowners' culture inside out. Those who agree with Greenberg take a gender view than those who vituperate that he is "distorting" the past. It's almost as ifsome were expecting to cruise through a plantation resort, admiring architecture, flora and fauna—but Greenberg^orfw us to look behind the columns, beyond the gardens, to the flesh and bone realities that made this facade possible, even ifwe get stung by the netties ofslavery along the way. Greenberg is neither sarcastic nor cynical about his subject matter, and several reviewers append "enjoyable" or "offbeat" to their analyses, even those who find him just plain wrong. Many of those inside the sacred circle of southern history or southern experience have responded to Greenberg's intricate treatises with the extremes I have come to expect from reviewers taking on the Old South. The American editor of the TimesLiterary Supplementbegins his review with the tale ofhis freshman year at Davidson (1966), when the college did away with the tradition of "bedmakers" for the undergraduates; it is no surprise when he gets around to berating Greenberg because, within Honor and Slavery, "everything comes back to slavery." Another leading...