Gerald W. Johnson of North Carolina and Baltimore was one of the
most prominent American journalists of the twentieth century and
one of the outstanding essayists of any age. The author of some
three dozen books of history, biography, and commentary on American
politics and culture, he was an editorial writer for the Baltimore
Sunpapers from 1926 to 1943, a contributing editor of the New
from 1954 until his death in 1980, and an advocate of
liberal causes for half a century. Johnson was, as Adlai Stevenson
said, "the conscience of America."
Before Johnson examined the health of America, however, he examined
the health of the South--and generally, in the 1920s, he found it
poor. The revival of the Ku Klux Klan, the Scopes trial, the
anti-Catholicism sparked by Al Smith's presidential candidacy, and
the labor violence of 1929 made the South the nation's number one
news item, reinforcing the national image of a Savage South.
, Fred Hobson contends that Johnson's most
important accomplishment was his role as brilliant critic and
interpreter of Southern life during this crucial stage in the
making of a modern Southern mind. This volume is the first
collection of Johnson's essays about the South, and Hobson's
perceptive introduction is the first biographical treatment of a
man whose vision shaped the destiny of his native region.
Originally published in 1983.
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