The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990 Page: 126
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Southwestern Hzstorzcal Quarterly
cluding Richard Hofstadter, who may eventually occupy a higher place
in American historiography. Even today Woodward's stature is un-
rivaled among historians of the South and, one might add, unparal-
leled in the history of the field. This is a phenomenon worth ponder-
ing. After all, Woodward's last real book appeared in its first edition in
1955. (This of course excludes edited works and collections of essays,
including his recent commentary on his own oeuvre and the reactions
to it, Thznkng Back .) Moreover, his best known interpretive the-
sis, on the "strange career" of Jim Crow, has been successfully chal-
lenged. The model of economic conflict in his most important works,
Tom Watson: Agrarian Rebel (1938), Reunion and Reaction (1951), and
Origins of the New South (1951), has been undermined in important re-
spects; and he never completed promised works on Reconstruction and
the history of racism. In addition, his weightiest interpretive essays,
"The Search for Southern Identity" and "The Burden of Southern
History," never enjoyed the kind of critical interest Ulrich B. Phillips's
"The Central Theme of Southern History" provoked.
Daniel C. Roper is only indirectly concerned with Woodward's pro-
fessional stature. Rather, he seeks to understand Woodward and his
work as products of the southern background and experience out of
which they emerged. The result is a hybrid work, alternatingly bio-
graphical, historiographical and historical, but one that casts much new
light on Woodward's life and effort to understand the southern past.
Especially interesting is Roper's discussion of Woodward's simultaneous
commitment to two things that coexist only in tension-detached
scholarship and active involvement in social reform. Out of this tension
came Woodward's most important insights into southern history and
the presentism that intruded into some of his best-known work.
Such probing is helpful, but one wonders if the explanation for
Woodward's unique stature as a historian lies not only in the man him-
self-his experience, his genius, his gracefulness in historical disputa-
tion, his impressive list of graduate students-but in the sociology of the
historical profession as well. Why was the rich harvest of Woodward's
passionate engagement with the South's gnarled, race-scarred past and
present so appealing to his generation of historians, while the perhaps
even richer fruit of Hofstadter's equally fervent wrestling with Ameri-
can history was so immediately controversial and problematic? Was it
that Woodward focused on matters in which moral choice seemed clear
and easily made, while Hofstadter's work seemed to render moral
choice itself ambiguous and contingent?
University of Hawazi
I. A. NEWBY
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990, periodical, 1990; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101213/m1/152/: accessed June 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.