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Standing at the Crossroads

, 259 pages
October 1996



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Standing at the Crossroads

Southern Life in the Twentieth Century

This engagingly-written survey examines the changes and constants of Southern culture. Always with a keen eye and sharp wit, Daniel stresses the diversity of Southern life, which includes not only regional variations but also divisions between black and white, male and female, rural and urban. From "separate but equal" to the civil rights revolution of the 1960s and its legacy, Standing at the Crossroads explores the extraordinary changes that transformed the South. Daniel takes the reader through a variety of topics that relate directly to the Southern experience: rural life, violence, music, literature, civil rights, unionism, urbanization, xenophobia, migration, religion, cockfighting, and stock car racing.

Pete Daniel is curator of the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. His books include The Shadow of Slavery: Peonage in the South, 1901-1969 and Breaking the Land: The Transformation of Cotton, Tobacco, and Rice Cultures since 1880.

"This book is full of wonderful surprises: an entire heritage of violence compressed in the cinematic images of a notorious murder trial; the contradictions and transformations of the post-World War II period summed up in Jackie Robinson's career; the South's persistent wild side embodied in stock-car racing and rock 'n' roll. Standing at the Crossroads should make compelling reading for natives and outlanders alike."

"Pete Daniel illuminates, with marvelous precision, the economic, social, and cultural contours of life in the modern South. Skillfully interweaving insights on rock and country music with discussions of rural farm life, racial confrontation, and the emergence of the Sun Belt, Daniel helps us come to grips with what has been lost—and gained—through the South's road to modernization."