ROBERT A. CALVERT, Editor
The Border South States. By Neal R. Peirce. (New York: W. W. Norton
& Co., I975. PP. 415. Maps, bibliography, index. $12.95.)
The Political South in the Twentieth Century. By Monroe Lee Billington.
(New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, I975. Pp. vii+205. Illustrations,
Southern Politics and the Second Reconstruction. By Numan V. Bartley
and Hugh D. Graham. (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University
Press, I975. Pp. vii+233. Illustrations, index. $10.)
For some time now observers have been calling attention to the rapid
pace of change affecting the American South. Not only has the region
become more industrialized and urbanized, but it also has experienced
significant social and political change. Today some may wonder if the
South has become so much like the rest of the nation that it can no longer
claim to be America's most distinct region. The books reviewed here con-
sider several aspects of this question and offer some surprising conclusions.
Neal R. Peirce presents a well-written account of recent developments
in the five border South states--Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia,
Kentucky, and Tennessee. He finds that conditions vary from place to place.
Virginia and West Virginia stand at the extremes with the other three states
falling somewhere in between. Since 1950 Virginia has changed the most.
With the development of dense urban corridors in the northern and eastern
parts of the state and with the rapid expansion of industry, Virginia has
experienced one of the most rapid patterns of economic development of
any state in the nation. She has also undergone significant political change,
for the Byrd machine that controlled state government during much of the
twentieth century lost its power in the I96os.
What strip miners and industrial polluters have done to rape the environ-
ment of West Virginia and exploit the vast mineral wealth of the state is
legendary. Add a grossly regressive tax structure which keeps government
services at a minimum and you have "the saddest of all American states"
Peirce finds it difficult to assess the change that has come to the border
South since 1950. He certainly does not give way to unbridled optimism.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101203/. Accessed December 22, 2013.