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 History Review    

 

 

Inside Alabama: A Personal History of My State
by Harvey Jackson III
Fire Ant Books, University of Alabama Press, 2004
Trade Paper, $26.95 (304 pages/two maps)
ISBN: 0-8173-5068-3
 
 
 
"THIS IS NOT THE BOOK I WAS SUPPOSED TO WRITE. NOR IS IT THE BOOK I SET OUT TO WRITE. AS IT TURNS OUT, IT IS THE BOOK I WANTED TO WRITE." (from the Preface)


Harvey Jackson III, an Alabamian by birth, taught in Florida and Georgia before returning to Jacksonville State University where he's currently Professor and Chair of the History and Foreign Languages. Like many people who've left a state, he found himself having to explain the politics, culture, and folklore to clarify Alabama's history to his students and colleagues. Inside Alabama is a "subjective approach" to the state's history. Jackson deliberately, determinedly, and unapologetically took a conversational style while writing "a personal history of my state."

Born into a family who came into the territory before Alabama was a state, Jackson's honed his storytelling skills with the intention of making history come alive. Told with humor, personal anecdotes, and written as well as oral histories, Jackson discusses the state's political and economic development from prehistoric times to the present, beginning with the mound builders and ending with the election of current governor Bob Riley. Two maps are included to give the reader a sense of the state's layout, past and present.

Starting with the mound builders, the first known inhabitants of the land now called Alabama, Jackson organizes his history by topic == Back When It Belonged to the Indians; Frontier Alabama; Becoming a State; Antebellum Alabama; Stumbiling toward Secession; Secession and the Civil War; After the War that Never Ended;  A World Made by the Bourbons, For the Bourbons; White Man's Alabama; Depression and War; Alabama After the War, "Big Jim" and Beyond; Old Times There Should Not be Forgotten; The Age of Wallace; The Age of Wallace and After; and To Sum It Up. In the essay preceding the epilogue, Jackson offers a bibliographic essay acknowledging his debt to secondary sources. Many of the "cast of characters" (including Hernando de Soto, Andrew Jackson, Hugo Black, Martin Luther King, Jr., George Wallace, and Rosa Parks) in Alabama's history have had exhaustive biographies. Jackson wisely draws on the best sources in history and literature creating a synergetic hybrid of his own.


 
Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews

 

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