Winthrop D. Jordan, the William F. Winter Professor of History at the University of Mississippi, is the author of several books, including White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550--1812, for which he received the Bancroft Prize, the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award, the National Book Award, and the Francis Parkman Prize.
Historian Jordan turns his prize-winning skills from probing the nature of white attitudes toward blacks in early America to exploring the process, possibilities, and limits of historical inference from the fears and facts of black-white violence in early Civil War Mississippi. Delving into an alleged 1861 slave conspiracy and the actual repression near Natchez, Jordan discourses on his finding and their meanings. His essay puts the local crisis in a context of sights, sounds, and other sensations that develop the significance of the events while showing how a historian works; for the latter purpose, he appends much of his evidence in 20 documents. More than the story of a black plot or white panic, this book is an engaging primer in historical reasoning and an absorbing study of the tenuous hegemony that ruled the slave South. Recommended for Civil War, local, Southern, and general history collections.-- Thomas J. Davis, Univ. at Buffalo, N.Y.