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Praise for Southernization of America

About the Book
Cynthia Tucker and Frye Gaillard, two of the South's most perceptive journalists, explore the lingering influence of the old Confederacy on modern American politics. One reads this book with a shock of recognition and dismay, but also with the hope that the leaders of the future may emerge from the battlegrounds of the past.
The hard questions facing us as Americans are at the heart of this book by two of the most provocative Southern writers of our time: What will we do about race and how do we begin to heal our raw political divide? Cynthia Tucker and Frye Gaillard trace the developments that have driven us to today and insist we have an honest look in the mirror, and a healthy debate, to save us from this current destructive path.
A powerful book on the centrality of the South to the American experience. Through the lenses of the role of evangelical religion, the struggle over school desegregation, the election of the first Black president, and the subsequent election of Donald Trump, Gaillard and Tucker compellingly demonstrate that the South is in no way an outlier to our larger U.S. society, but instead a true barometer of the promise and perils of the times in which we live.
In these vital essays, Gaillard and Tucker provide a clear-eyed examination of the persistence of white supremacist poison in our politics, and the enduring courage and determination of civil rights advocates who combat it. The Southernization of America is indispensable reading on how the promise of American democracy remains under siege by violence and hate—and what will be required to ensure it has a fighting chance.
The wisdom that flows through this slim volume packs a punch well beyond the book’s weight. Journalists Cynthia Tucker and Frye Gaillard, with keen recall of telling anecdotes and pithy writing, have deconstructed how their beloved South, always desperate to find an exportable commodity, continues to discover ready markets for the xenophobia, white supremacy, and hypocrisy that defined it for decades. And yet, in the tradition of I’ll Take My Stand, We Dissent, and Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, Tucker and Gaillard connect dots that give Americans of goodwill hope for the future.
With a journalistic eye for detail, Frye Gaillard and Cynthia Tucker present a bracing account of America’s reckoning with race and justice over the past half century. The result is a sobering but clarifying narrative of where we’ve been, and a call to persevere in pursuit of our democratic ideals.
Building on John Egerton's foundation of studying the South within a national framework, Gaillard and Tucker show that any tour of recent American political life goes through the South. They discuss the high points — the commitment, creativity, and sense of possibility among political figures and activists from Jimmy Carter to Stacey Abrams — and lots of low points, from violence to voting restrictions to racist, nativist politicians to right-wing fights about symbols and the teaching of history. The book urges us to ask if we should consider Donald Trump a Southern president.
In these incisive essays exploring the impact of Southern white supremacy on our national life, Frye Gaillard and Cynthia Tucker have shown that William Faulkner was right: 'The past is never dead. It’s not even past.' As they eloquently remind us, we are now facing a crossroads in our national life in which we must choose between whiteness and an America that embraces racial justice and true democracy.
In this elegant and incisive book, Cynthia Tucker and Frye Gaillard sketch a picture of a modern America shaped by multiracial freedom struggles—as well as by the vicious, protean structures of white supremacy. We see through its lens that the undermining of civil rights movements and distortion of their memory is the story of the South but also of the nation. The Southernization of America issues a charge to its readers: choose democracy in defiance of our country’s most narrow impulses and with a resolve equal to that of previous generations, or else.
The Southernization of America is necessary reading for all who would understand the current crisis in which the nation finds itself — turned against its ideals and turned toward abiding bigotry. Knowing how we got here is a critical step toward finding a way out.
At the peak of the civil rights movement, the Democratic Party finally expelled its Southern, white supremacist wing—only to see its demagogues and their followers make a toxic migration to the Republican Party. In The Southernization of America, Tucker and Gaillard use the sharp pens of journalists to concisely capture the direct line from that political transformation to Donald Trump and the dangerous movement he embodies today. The book also reveals how the worst aspects of what was once the Southern way of life have metastasized across the country to contaminate the values of millions of Americans who should know better.
Authored by two of the most insightful Southern intellectuals of our time, The Southernization of America is an excellent exploration of how we got to where we are as nation. The book is well worth a read by anyone trying to understand American politics in the aftermath of Trump.
A searing meditation on American democracy. This brilliant and compelling book makes clear that the greatest threat to our nation is its eternal pandemic — racism.
A smart, transformative book. Helps explain why the best and the worst of American politics today ties back to the history of the South.
With their Alabama roots, Frye Gaillard and Cynthia Tucker established themselves during distinguished newspaper careers as leading chroniclers of the Civil Rights Movement. Their new book is required reading when that movement's gains are endangered by the resurgent assault on progressive values represented by Donald Trump and his entranced followers in the old Confederacy. The authors provide an alarming analysis of how 'the explicit racism, the brazen xenophobia and the cartoonish conspiracies' promoted through Fox News by a Republican Party in moral decline have once again gripped our beloved region. Their penetrating account reminds us anew that enlightened journalism is the South's best hope.
Frye Gaillard and Cynthia Tucker’s book on the challenges facing our democracy is a work of true distinction. Written by two prominent journalists from Alabama — one white and one black, one male and one female — it offers a wide-ranging and carefully crafted analysis of our current dilemma, a perilous situation rooted in regional pathology and national hubris. Full of moral urgency, their words of wisdom go beyond diagnosis to an insightful prescription for rescue and redemption.
Two Alabama journalists, one White and one Black, examine the expansion of Southern prejudices into our larger nation. A thoughtful, probing look at our national character.
In this short but impactful text the coauthors theorize that the common thread in our shared history will always tie back to the American South and its history of racism. Rich in primary source references, the book is a must read for those wondering how we got where we are in today’s age of politics and racial reckoning.
The Southernization of America is an eloquent and perceptive essay collection that tracks the intertwining of Southern and Republican values from the 1970s to the present. Concluding with a plea for “a sense of moral urgency” in pursuit of racial equality, this is a trenchant study of the South’s firm grip on the American consciousness.
A timely and insightful study. Unreservedly recommended.
Best New Read for Summer 2022
Gaillard and Tucker’s reflections leave one with a clearer understanding that some of the greatest threats facing American democracy have a long, often complicated history that should be better known. Read this book. While it won’t be the last word, it is a book for going forward, intentionally, as a democracy.