Taking a wide focus, Southern Journey narrates the evolution of southern history from the founding of the nation to the present day by focusing on the settling, unsettling, and resettling of the South. Using migration as the dominant theme of southern history and including indigenous, white, black, and immigrant people in the story, Edward L. Ayers cuts across the usual geographic, thematic, and chronological boundaries that subdivide southern history.
Ayers explains the major contours and events of the southern past from a fresh perspective, weaving geography with history in innovative ways. He uses unique color maps created with sophisticated geographic information system (GIS) tools to interpret massive data sets from a humanistic perspective, providing a view of movement within the South with a clarity, detail, and continuity we have not seen before. The South has never stood still; it is—and always has been—changing in deep, radical, sometimes contradictory ways, often in divergent directions.
Ayers’s history of migration in the South is a broad yet deep reinterpretation of the region’s past that informs our understanding of the population, economy, politics, and culture of the South today. Southern Journey is not only a pioneering work of history; it is a grand recasting of the South’s past by one of its most renowned and appreciated scholars.
Edward L. Ayers has won the Bancroft Prize, the Albert J. Beveridge Award, and the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize for his books on American history. A former president of the Organization of American Historians, Ayers received the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama in 2013. He is the Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities and President Emeritus of the University of Richmond.
“There is a lot of punch per page in this concise but strikingly comprehensive assessment of the importance of internal as well as external migration as both cause and consequence of critical changes in the South’s economy, politics, and culture. Spanning some 230 years, it draws on migration patterns to deftly reframe and enrich our perspectives on an array of pivotal historical moments. With its cogent, engaging text further enhanced by its stunning, state-of-the-art graphics, Southern Journey is one of the meatiest and most stimulating books about the South that I have read in many a day.”
~James C. Cobb, author of The South and America since World War II
“Ayers elegantly presents human movement as one of the most powerful ways to understand southern history. With thoughtfully conceived and clearly executed maps, he guides us through patterns of migration ranging from forced Native removal and the slave trade to massive dislocations wrought by industrialization and war. The result is a panoramic view of over two centuries that both extends and challenges our understanding of the American South.”
~Susan Schulten, author of A History of America in 100 Maps
“Southern Journey is a deeply impressive survey of regional history, a narrative driven by map work that makes reading a genuine pleasure. Ayers shows that contrary to its image as a region stuck in its ways, the South was always changing and still is.”
~Gavin Wright, author of Old South, New South: Revolutions in the Southern Economy since the Civil War
“Every teacher of American history should check out Edward L. Ayers's Southern Journey. Fantastic new source by a great historian and pioneer of digital history. Bravo Ed!”
~David W. Blight, author of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History
“Historians, in particular, are indebted not only to Ayers for this brilliant imagining of the South, but also to Louisiana State University Press for bringing it to the public in such a useful form. This volume should be widely read, not only by historians but in classes on the history of the South, which should include this volume as required reading.”
“A valuable asset to anyone interested in migration in the South. . . . Ayers builds a grand narrative about the South as ever-changing due to migrations.”
~Journal of Southern History
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