The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990

Book Reviews

search on New Deal programs in Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, and
New Orleans breaks new ground. Not initially laid out as well-serviced
cities, southern metropolitan areas developed diversified municipal
service programs as a result of the New Deal intrusion. Smith's analysis
focuses on the impact of the federal National Recovery Administration
(NRA), public works, housing, and arts programs. He provides a major
discussion of the Works Projects Administration projects, which mod-
ernized the services in these cities. Smith's analysis underscores the role
of government in the 1930s period; federal intervention in urban de-
velopment took the form of subsidies for home mortgages, banking
and production, and an array of municipal service programs.
Millions of dollars flowed into a host of construction projects, large
and small, that employed thousands of urban southerners. For decades
after the Great Depression the residents of these southern cities had
the benefit of dozens of paved roads, public schools and other build-
ings, playgrounds, and other public works projects funded by the New
Deal. Thousands of construction workers, as well as white-collar work-
ers in the New Deal agencies, had jobs and fed their families because
of the New Deal money. Yet the projects and jobs were perhaps not as
important as the deeper changes, including the forcing of southern
(business) elites to accept the principle of tax-supported public welfare
and municipal service programs for all urban neighborhoods, white
and black.
There are a few minor problems in Smith's analysis. He does not ad-
dress in detail the larger capitalistic context of the decline and rebirth
of these southern cities, and his analysis is insufficiently theoretical. His
rich urban materials could be used to critique much of the mainstream
social science literature. Mainstream urbanists tend to view the rise and
decline of cities as largely determined by developments in transporta-
tion and communication technologies or by "natural" market forces.
The political-economic history, however, that resulted in the recovery
of these southern cities from the depression involved extensive govern-
mental interference in that "natural" market, an interference that liter-
ally saved southern businesses, as well as relieved southern workers and
their families.
University of Texas at Austin JOE R. FEAGIN
Contemporary Southern Politics. Edited by James F. Lee. (Baton Rouge:
Louisiana State University Press, 1988. Pp. 309. Introduction,
maps, tables, graphs, notes, index. $35-)
The latest addition to a growing literature on politics in the post-
World War II South is Contemporary Southern Politics, a collection of es-

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101213/. Accessed August 30, 2014.