The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002 Page: 711


Book Reviews


Vandal's efforts at explaining his incredible and indeed his fascinating compi-
lations have not been equaled in the literature on historical violence. They are
presented to the reader in a clear, concise, and readily understandable manner.
Vandal is informative on a number of fronts and we should pay attention to what
he has to say. In between his murder rates, Vandal informs us of violence on the
most intimate level in every Louisiana Parish, how they compared to each other
and how these statistics related to gender, economics, politics, and social situa-
tions in both rural and urban settings. Vandal has definitely reopened the ques-
tion of the role of violence in defeating Reconstruction. It would be a travesty if
this book did not receive the notice it deserves because it has been issued by a uni-
versity press instead of a mainstream publishing house.
Although some recent historians have tended to find the roots of Southern vio-
lence in the cultural background of the region, Vandal proves that politics was the
overriding reason for the lawlessness, with economic considerations a distant sec-
ond. Incredible amounts of mayhem occurred in the Red River parishes with
many of the attacks perpetrated by individuals rather than collectively. Interest-
ingly, the homicide rate in New Orleans decreased after the Civil War. Whites in
the Pelican State committed the majority of murders. Upheaval in the black com-
munity was relatively minor and they only sporadically resonded to this massive
incursion into their lives. In sum, postwar Louisiana was a "paradise" for white
This is the most complete study of Southern violence during Reconstruction
and beyond, that has ever been published. It is well researched, based upon con-
siderate conclusions, and the charts, tables, and graphs are almost mind-boggling.
Moreover, Professor Vandal has integrated much of the new social history materi-
al about women, blacks, and sociological interpretations into his narrative. The
dichotomy among the disparate rural and urban areas is truly amazing. (Consid-
er present-day violence statistics.) It has been a standard interpretation in Recon-
struction historiography that violence was not responsible for the political demise
of the Republican Party and its African American element. But studies by this re-
viewer on Texas and Vandal's book on Louisiana have reopened the question of
the role of violence in defeating Reconstruction.
Gallaudet Unvwersity Barry A. Crouch
Feeding the Wolf John B. Rayner and the Politics of Race. By Gregg Cantrell. (Wheel-
ing: Harlan Davidson, 2001. Pp. vii+149. Introduction, acknowledgments,
epilogue, index. ISBN 0-88295-961-1. $12.95, paper.)
Gregg Cantrell's Feeding the Wolf John B. Rayner and the Politics of Race is a well-
written and insightful biography ofJohn B. Rayner, the illegitimate mulatto son of
North Carolina congressman and slaveholder Kenneth Rayner. Despite its brevi-
ty, this study serves as a solid introduction into the social and political issues that
confronted many African Americans living in the South during the years between
Reconstruction and the early twentieth century. Cantrell adequately covers Rayn-
er's early years in Reconstruction North Carolina, with a detailed description of

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. ( accessed July 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.