Away Down South by James Cobb

Away Down South- A History of Southern Identity

Away Down South is a comprehensive and insightful book that explores the history of Southern identity. The author, James C. Cobb, explains how the South first came to be seen as a region apart from the rest of America and how it later came to see itself in this way. The book covers over 200 years of Southern intellectualism and condenses it into a readable history of Southern history.

The main themes of the book include the definition of the “Southern way of life,” the role of slavery, race, and racism in shaping Southern identity, and the evolution of African American identity in the South. The author also discusses the homogenization of the South as it is slowly drawn into the melting pot that is the United States.

What I Liked

I loved how compelling it was and how it got into the full history of Southern identity, what it means, and what to do about it. It’s not a guilt trip at all…just an honest look at what the South was – and the truth sometimes is not pretty.

I’m from a white Southern family, and spent my teen years living in rural Georgia. The American South really is its own region. And rather than resist the homogenization of modern life & America, has, instead, influenced it in many ways. I think every one from the American South has some kind of view or take on it. It’s complicated. And I loved that this book really dug into that complexity to put words and applied sociology to it.

Brilliant book.

What I Did Not Like

Nothing – Dr. Cobb (who I has a class with at the University of Georgia) is a brilliant, thoughtful historian.

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