Dixie by Curtis Wilkie
A Personal Odyssey Through Events That Shaped the Modern South

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Synopsis

Dixie is a political and social history of the South during the second half of the twentieth century told from Curtis Wilkie's perspective as a white man intimately transformed by enormous racial and political upheavals.
Wilkie's personal take on some of the landmark events of modern American history is as engaging as it is insightful. He attended Ole Miss during the rioting in the fall of 1962, when James Meredith became the first African American to enroll in the school. After graduation, Wilkie worked in Clarksdale, Mississippi, where he met Aaron Henry, a local druggist and later the prominent head of the Mississippi NAACP. He covered the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964 and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party challenge at the national convention in Atlantic City, and he was a member of the biracial insurgent Democratic delegation from Mississippi seated in place of Governor John Bell Williams's delegation at the 1968 convention in Chicago. Wilkie followed Jimmy Carter's campaign for the presidency, becoming friends with Billy Carter; he covered Bill Clinton's election in 1992 and was witness to the South's startling shift from the Democratic Party to the GOP; and finally, he was there when Byron De La Beckwith was convicted for the murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers thirty-one years after the fact.
Wilkie had left the South in 1969 in the wake of the violence surrounding the civil rights movement, vowing never to live there again. But after traveling the world as a reporter, he did return in 1993, drawn by a deep-rooted affinity to the region of his youth. It was as though he rejoined his tribe, a peculiar civilization bonded by accent and mannerisms and burdened by racial anxiety. As Wilkie writes, Southerners have staunchly resisted assimilation since the Civil War, taking an almost perverse pride in their role as "spiritual citizens of a nation that existed for only four years in another century."
Wilkie endeavors to make sense of the enormous changes that have typified the South for more than four decades. Full of beauty, humor, and pathos, Dixie is a story of redemption -- for both a region and a writer.
 

About Curtis Wilkie

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Curtis Wilkie, a native Mississippian, graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1963. He worked for the Clarksdale Press Register in the Mississippi Delta through the rest of the 1960s, during the height of the civil rights movement. A national and foreign correspondent for the Boston Globe for twenty-six years, he has covered eight presidential campaigns and was the paper's Middle East bureau chief from 1984 to 1987. Wilkie is the coauthor, with Jim McDougal, of Arkansas Mischief and has written for many national magazines, including Newsweek and The New Republic. He lives in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
 
Published May 16, 2002 by Scribner. 352 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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When the Globe returned Wilkie to the South to cover the place like a foreign country for readers in that chilly northern town, he immediately sensed that major changes (in both mindset and demographics) had taken place since he left—changes that have been unfortunately obscured by the recent bro...

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Publishers Weekly

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In this social chronicle of the American South's past 40 years, Wilkie (coauthor, Arkansas Mischief), a native Mississippian who exiled himself, proves that, indeed, you can't take the South out of the boy.

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Book Reporter

You might think everything possible has already been written about the total transformation that has overtaken the American South in the last 50 years, changing it from the sleepy and backward-looking "Old Confederacy" into the fast-growing and business-oriented modern region of today.

Jan 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Dixie: A Personal Odyssey Thr...

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