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Voices in Our Blood


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About the Author

Jon Meacham is a Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian. A contributing writer for The New York Times Book Review and a contributing editor of Time magazine, he is the author of His Truth Is Marching On and the New York Times bestsellers The Hope of Glory, The Soul of America, Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, American Gospel, and Franklin and Winston. Meacham is a distinguished visiting professor and holds the Rogers Chair in the American Presidency at Vanderbilt University. He lives with his family in Nashville, Tennessee.


To "give a flavor of what life was like" as the Civil Rights movement played itself out, Meacham, the managing editor of Newsweek, has assembled "a highly personal anthology" of "the country's best writing on the midcentury crisis." Extending far beyond the decade between Rosa Parks's bold act of resistance to the proprieties of segregation in 1955 and the landmark civil rights bills of 1965, Meacham includes some unexpected works written in the heat of the moment: Tom Wolfe's "wicked portrait of the liberal elite's fascination with the Black Panthers," Alex Haley's Playboy interview with Malcolm X and Howell Raines's memoir of his family's complex relationship with their black housekeeper. The pieces range broadly, from "the fissures between the young and the old within the black community" in the late 1950s (embodied in the relationship between Stokely Carmichael and John Kaspar), to the "cornucopia of discontent" afflicting "blacks in the 1980s and 1990s" as rendered by Ellis Cose. Mixing the work of artists and journalists, including Rebecca West, Taylor Branch, William Styron, Eudora Welty, Stanley Crouch, Elizabeth Hardwick, Alice Walker, Hodding Carter and Richard Wright, this compilation is a useful resource for tracking the daily realities of civil rights struggles. Meacham captures the movement's "complications behind the public spectacle" with immediacy, driving home the point that black and white citizens of the U.S. remain "connected by a common heritage, yet hopelessly divided by skin color." (Jan.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

This admirable work is a solid collection of acclaimed "voices" narrating the environment, origin, and progress of the Civil Rights movement, as told by reporters, artists, novelists, historians, and authors such as Maya Angelou, Eudora Welty, James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Willie Morris, Robert Penn Warren, Alice Walker, Murray Kempton, E.B. White, William Faulkner, Ralph Ellison, and Rebecca West. The book begins with the segregated United States of the 1930s and 1940s. James Baldwin recounts the Jim Crow world of New Jersey and the Harlem riot of 1943. Willie Morris, in a 1967 memoir excerpt, recalls knocking over a little black boy just for sport because "the broader reality was that the negroes in this town were ours, to do with as we wished." As a continuous whole, the narratives are well organized into four sequential historical sectionsD"Before the Storm," "Into the Streets," "The Mountaintop," and "Twilight"Dthat flow together nicely. Edited by Newsweek managing editor Meacham, this anthology will supplement other Civil Rights movement works, such as John Egerton's Speak Now Against the Day: The Generation Before the Civil Rights Movement in the South (Knopf, 1994). Thoughtful, sensitive, rewarding, and groundbreaking, it belongs on the shelf of every Civil Rights movement scholar and in classrooms and libraries as well. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/00.]DEdward G. McCormack, Cox Lib. & Media Ctr., Univ. of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"Jon Meacham . . . has done about the best job of anthologizing the movement that I've ever seen."--Tom Wicker, Mother Jones

"Compelling . . . Acting as a maestro for an orchestra of gifted writers, Meacham succeeds at transporting the reader to the confused heart of American race relations, down to the core of the misunderstandings, the invitations to hate, and the violence"--Juan Williams, The Washington Monthly

"A collection of first-rate writings by gifted authors on America's struggle for racial justice."--James Ralph, Chicago Tribune "The writing in this collection sparkles."--Robert Joiner, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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