The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990 Page: 416
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
says written by political scientists and edited by James F. Lee. The vol-
ume joins recent major books by Dewey W. Grantham, Earl and Merle
Black, and Alexander P. Lamis. Contemporary Southern Politics lacks the
historical depth of Grantham's work; it does not have the analytical
sweep of the study by the Blacks; and it lacks the "feel" for campaigns
and politics that enlivens Lamis's book. Nevertheless Contemporary South-
ern Politics is an important addition to the literature.
The thirteen essays included in the volume are all original contribu-
tions, and all are of high quality. They also fit together much better
than essay collections usually do. All the essays are concerned with the
general direction of southern politics since approximately 1950, and
they all generally support the proposition that post-World War II de-
velopments have, as Lee states in his introduction, "rejoined southern
politics to national politics" (p. 2). The transformation of the southern
political environment and fundamental shifts in the region's political
culture and ideology have Americanized southern politics, but the
authors in this volume, unlike the scholars of twenty years ago who
tended to cheer the nationalization of the South, are extremely ambiva-
lent in their evaluation of contemporary southern political practices. It
is true, of course, as essays in the volume document, that southern state
legislators are better educated and more adequately supported by staff
personnel than they had been in the past, that southern governors, far
from being the laughingstocks that they sometimes had been, compare
quite favorably with other governors nationally, and so on, but little of
this seems to have translated into more responsible and more respon-
sive politics and government. John Van Wingen and David Valentine,
whose essay on the reemergence of two-party competition is entitled
"Partisan Politics: A One-and-a-Half, No-Party System," summarize the
main thrust of the volume in the following manner: "The declining
strength of partisan attachments, the substanceless media-produced
campaigns, the increasingly bureaucratic state governments, the multi-
tude of governors committed to administrative reform rather than pol-
icy reform, all of these mitigate against responsible party government"
(p. 147). Just as Earl and Merle Black discovered in their study of the
same time period, the long-awaited and eagerly anticipated transfor-
mation of southern politics seems to have produced more problems
One of the numerous strengths of this well-selected collection is the
attention devoted to subjects usually ignored in more general studies.
There is, for example, an excellent essay by Edward M. Wheat on the
growth of governmental bureaucracy in the South. As Wheat points
out, governmental reforms have made southern state governments
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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/m1/472/: accessed July 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.