“If you can read only one book about how history happened to the post-Civil War economy, read this one.”—New York Review of Books
In this provocative and intricate analysis of the post-Civil War southern economy, Gavin Wright finds in the South’s peculiar labor market the answer to the perennial question of why the region remained backward for so long. After the Civil War, Wright explains, the South continued to be a low-wage regional market embedded in a high-wage national economy. He vividly details the origins, workings, and ultimate demise of this separate southern labor market and explains why the post-World War II southern economy, which created today’s Sunbelt, is not the result of the evolution of the old system, but the product of a revolution brought on by the New Deal and World War II that shattered the South’s stagnant system and created a genuinely new, thriving economy.
Gavin Wright is William Robertson Coe Professor in American Economic History at Stanford University and the author of The Political Economy of the Cotton South and Old South, New South: Revolutions in the Southern Economy Since the Civil War, winner of the Frank L. and Harriet C. Owsley Award of the Southern Historical Association. He is a past president of the Economic History Association and the Agricultural History Society.
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