They leave behind a collective memory of segregation shaped increasingly by its horrors and heroic defeat but not a nuanced understanding of everyday life in Jim Crow America. In The South, Adolph L. Reed Jr. — New Orleanian, political scientist, and, according to Cornel West, “the greatest democratic theorist of his generation” — takes up the urgent task of recounting the granular realities of life in the last decades of the Jim Crow South.
Reed illuminates the multifaceted structures of the segregationist order. Thanks to his personal history and political acumen, we see America’s apartheid system from the ground up, not just its legal framework or systems of power, but the way these systems structured the day-to-day interactions, lives, and ambitions of ordinary working people.
The South unravels the personal and polit- ical dimensions of the Jim Crow order, revealing the sources and objectives of this unstable regime, its contradictions and weakness, and the social order that would replace it.
The South is more than a memoir or a history. Filled with analysis and fascinating firsthand accounts, this book is required reading for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of America’s second peculiar institution and the future created in its wake.
“[A] trenchant history of the Jim Crow South … This spare, earnest recollection shines a unique light on the fight for racial equality in America.”