Southwestern Hizstorical Quarterly
Attentive to the prior work of both historians and political scientists,
Grantham skips adeptly from the larger patterns and institutions that
marked the solidification and transformation of the South as a whole to
the territory of the individual states, a state-by-state focus being espe-
cially pronounced in chapters 2, 4, 6, and 7. As a result, The Death of the
Solid South balances the significance of aggregate election statistics with
the color of state politics, dominated as they so often were by political
personalities such as Jim Ferguson of Texas, Huey Long of Louisiana,
Eugene Talmadge of Georgia, and Harry Byrd of Virginia. The effect
is to provide insight into the political history of the region and, how-
ever summarily, the states that constitute it.
This is not a book with startling new insights. One unsettling point is
that the Solid South, according to Grantham's epilogue, is both "dead!"
(p. 20o8) and "still in a period of political transition .. ." (p. 207). Such
irresolution, however, does not detract from what is an unusually lucid
and thorough synthesis of southern political history.
University of Texas at Austin MELISSA P. COLLIE
Czvil Wars: Women and the Crisis of Southern Natzonalism. By George C.
Rable. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989. Pp. xv+391.
Collections, index. $29.95.)
The year 1863 was a turning point for the Confederacy. From Janu-
ary of that year until the spring of 1865, the combined pressures of the
war, emancipation, conscription, invasion, and ultimately defeat chip-
ped away at the cornerstones of Southern society, slavery, and pa-
triarchy. While the "Peculiar Institution" eventually collapsed, pa-
triarchy's fate was less evident. In her classic 1970 study of Southern
white women, Anne Scott argued that wartime crises eroded patriarchy
to the extent that a window of opportunity was created through which
upper-class white women might escape. While more recent studies by
Suzanne Lebsock and Jean Friedman note the limited gains made by
elite women, these scholars disagree with Scott's optimistic conclusions.
Their findings suggest that regardless of class distinctions, the tradi-
tional alignment of power between men and women survived the war
years intact. Moreover, given the precarious postwar economic status
of the South's yeomanry, hill people, and landless poor, women from
these classes actually experienced a worsening of conditions.
George C. Rable's latest contribution to Southern scholarship will
fuel rather than dampen the fiery debate over the persistence of pa-
triarchy. Rable weaves a complex tale in which all of the ingredients for
a revolution in the woman's sphere are introduced, but never coalesce.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/. Accessed August 20, 2014.