Shapers of Southern History is a terrific book, worthy of much more attention than it's likely to receive.
John B. Boles, the anthology's editor, invited fifteen of the best-known historians in the South to reflect upon their profession and how they came to choose their particular research specialties. The resulting essays are as immediate and personal as an e-mail from a much beloved friend. Most of the historians credit their parents, extended families, and teachers for having g given them a sense of place.
John Hope Franklin, Jack P. Greene, Anne Prior Scott, Bertram, Wyatt-Brown, Bill C. Malone, Dan T. Carter, Charles Joyner, Pete Daniel, Peter H. Wood, Anthony J. Badger, Drew Gilpin Faust, Darlene Clark Hine, Vernon Burton, Suzanne Lebsock, and Edward L. Ayers have essays included in SHAPERS OF SOUTHERN HISTORY. They've taken family, family lore, upbringing, teachers, mentors, fellow students, defining events, and unexpected synchronous opportunities as topics for discussion. Many of the writers take the Civil Rights Movement or the Womens' Rights Movement as their awakening moment.
Like all well-written books, Shapers of Southern History is thought-provoking and meant to be reread.
John B. Boles, managing editor of the Journal of Southern History and William Pettus Hobby Professor of History at Rice University, is the author of The South Through Time and Autobiographical Reflections on Southern Religious History.
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