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the mid-twentieth century, describing a region of failing farms and declining employment inwhich the mosdy female workforce was employed in low-wage, nonunion plants, working for few benefits and with little hope ofadvancement. Even in the 1990s, she finds that local schools remain poor, and that less than halfofall adults have a high school education. The conclusion she draws is inescapable: that by refusing to invest in a future they could not imagine, the people of the Upper Cumberland paid the price ofcondemning their children to poverty. Sadly, it is a price that all too many country people in the New South continue to pay. The South as an American Problem Edited by LarryJ. Griffin and Don H. Doyle University of Georgia Press, 1995 310 pp. Cloth, $30.00 Reviewed by Peter A. Coclanis, George and Alice Welsh Professor of History at the University ofNorth Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of The Shadow ofa Dream: EconomicUfe andDeath in the South Carolina Uw Country, 1670—1920. In writing this review, I promised myselfI would not start by alluding to a collection ofessays on the South written almost seventy years ago by a dozen intellectuals associated with Vanderbilt University. Just because the new collection, The South as an American Problem, is the work of a dozen writers associated (more or less) with Vanderbilt University was no reason to take such a stand—or so I thought. But, alas, there is no getting around it: Although The South as anAmerican Problem is not organized as tighdy as the famous Fugitive/Agrarian manifesto of 1930, it covers enough ofthe same ground to invite comparison, as LarryJ. Griffin and Don H. Doyle, the editors ofthe newer collection, readily acknowledge. To say that the Griffin-Doyle collection shares some ofthe same ground with its illustrious predecessor, G?? Take My Stand, is not to suggest that it espouses the same "agrarian" values, advances the same "anti-industrial" and "anti-modern" arguments, or assumes the same rhetorical tone. Rather, The South as anAmerican Problem, which grew out ofan interdisciplinary faculty seminar at Vanderbilt during the 1992—1993 academic year, shares a concern with southern identity, broadly conceived, and an interest in the problematic relationship between the South Reviews 8 1 and the polity of which it is part, the United States. Although the various contributors to the Griffin-Doyle collection—six historians, two literature professors , one sociologist, an economist, a legal scholar, and a journalist—fail to agree on either the nature of southern identity or the particular problem posed by the South to the United States, they do converse with and play off of one another in extremely interesting ways. No manifesto, then, but manifest and manifold virtues nonetheless! Perhaps the single most impressive virtue of this collection is its intellectual subdety, particularly in "problematizing" topics ranging from climate to culture, and from slavery and secession to the rise of the sunbelt. After a brief introduction , coeditor Larry Griffin, for example, opens with an essay that probes the veryidea ofa southern "problem," demonstrating that the definition ofthe problem has shifted markedly over time. Griffin suggests in his provocative conclusion that America has always needed a problematic South in order to grasp and occasionally to confront and overcome broader American ills. None ofthe other contributors operates on the same lofty (and abstract) plane as Griffin, a distinguished sociologist, but each at once enriches as he/she revises our understanding of individual "problems" in, about, or relating to the South. On our descent from Griffin's opening essay, we first encounter David L. Carlton 's brilliant piece on the ways in which the economic culture ofthe South came to diverge from that of the nation as a whole in the nineteenth century. Joyce E. Chaplin's insightful and often surprising essay on the "problem" of southern climate details whence this problem arose and how it changed over time. Chaplin's essay is followed by four strong pieces on race relations in the South (including slavery) at various points in time, by James Oakes, Don H. Doyle, James W Ely Jr., and Hugh Davis Graham. The last of these essays—on the successes and ironies of the so...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 81-83
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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