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Gone with the wind
2008
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Chapter Twenty-five The next morning Scarlett's body was so stiff and sore from the long miles of walking and jolting in the wagon that every movement was agony. Her face was crimson with sunburn and her blistered palms raw. Her tongue was furred and her throat parched as if flames had scorched it and no amount of water could assuage her thirst. Her head felt swollen and she winced even when she turned her eyes. A queasiness of the stomach reminiscent of the early days of her pregnancy made the smoking yams on the breakfast table unendurable, even to the smell. Gerald could have told her she was suffering the normal aftermath of her first experience with hard drinking but Gerald noticed nothing. He sat at the head of the table, a gray old man with absent, faded eyes fastened on the door and head cocked slightly to hear the rustle of Ellen's petticoats, to smell the lemon verbena sachet. As Scarlett sat down, he mumbled: "We will wait for Mrs. O'Hara. She is late." She raised an aching head, looked at him with startled incredulity and met the pleading eyes of Mammy, who stood behind Gerald's chair. She rose unsteadily, her hand at her throat and looked down at her father in the morning sunlight. He peered up at her vaguely and she saw that his hands were shaking, that his head trembled a little. Until this moment she had not realized how much she had counted on Gerald to take command, to tell her what she must do, and now -- Why, last night he had seemed almost himself. There had been none of his usual bluster and vitality, but at least he had told a connected story and now -- now, he did not even remember Ellen was dead. The combined shock of the coming of the Yankees and her death had stunned him. She started to speak, but Mammy shook her head vehemently and raising her apron dabbed at her red eyes. "Oh, can Pa have lost his mind?" thought Scarlett and her throbbing head felt as if it would crack with this added strain. "No, no. He's just dazed by it all. It's like he was sick. He'll get over it. He must get over it. What will I do if he doesn't? -- I won't think about it now. I won't think of him or Mother or any of these awful things now. No, not till I can stand it. There are too many other things to think about -- things that can be helped without my thinking of those I can't help." She left the dining room without eating, and went out onto the back porch where she found Pork, barefooted and in the ragged remains of his best livery, sitting on the steps cracking peanuts. Her head was hammering and throbbing and the bright sunlight stabbed into her eyes. Merely holding herself erect required an effort of will power and she talked as briefly as possible, dispensing with the usual forms of courtesy her mother had always taught her to use with negroes. She began asking questions so brusquely and giving orders so decisively Pork's eyebrows went up in mystification. Miss Ellen didn't never talk so short to nobody, not even when she caught them stealing pullets and watermelons. She asked again about the fields, the gardens, the stock, and her green eyes had a hard glaze which Pork had never seen in them before. "Yas'm, dat hawse daid, layin' dar whar Ah tie him wid his nose in de water bucket he tuhned over. No'm, de cow ain' daid. Din' you know? She done have a calf las' night. Dat why she beller so." "A fine midwife your Prissy will make," Scarlett remarked caustically. "She said she was bellowing because she needed milking." "Well'm, Prissy ain' fixing to be no cow midwife, Miss Scarlett," Pork said tactfully. "An' ain' no use quarrelin' wid blessin's, cause dat calf gwine ter mean a full cow an' plen'y buttermilk fer de young Misses, lak dat Yankee doctah say dey'd need." "All right, go on. Any stock left?" "No'm. Nuthin' 'cept one ole sow an' her litter. Ah driv dem inter de swamp de day de Yankees come, but de Lawd knows how we gwine get dem. She mean, dat sow." "We'll get them all right. You and Prissy can start right now hunting for her." Pork was amazed and indignant. "Miss Scarlett, dat a fe'el han's bizness. Ah's allus been a house nigger." A small fiend with a pair of hot tweezers plucked behind Scarlett's eyeballs. "You two will catch the sow -- or get out of here, like the field hands did." Tears trembled in Pork's hurt eyes. Oh, if only Miss Ellen were here! She understood such niceties and realized the wide gap between the duties of a field hand and those of a house nigger. "Git out, Miss Scarlett? Whar'd Ah git out to, Miss Scarlett?" "I don't know and I don't care. But anyone at Tara who won't work can go hunt up the Yankees. You can tell the others that too." "Yas'm." "Now, what about the corn and the cotton, Pork?" "De cawn? Lawd, Miss Scarlett, dey pasture dey hawses in de cawn an' cah'ied off whut de hawses din' eat or spile. An' dey driv dey cannons an' wagons 'cross de cotton till it plum ruint, 'cept a few acres over on de creek bottom dat dey din' notice. But dat cotton ain' wuth foolin' wid, 'cause ain' but 'bout three bales over dar." Three bales. Scarlett thought of the scores of bales Tara usually yielded and her head hurt worse. Three bales. That was little more than the shiftless Slatterys raised. To make matters worse, there was the question of taxes. The Confederate government took cotton for taxes in lieu of money, but three bales wouldn't even cover the taxes. Little did it matter though, to her or the Confederacy, now that all the field hands had run away and there was no one to pick the cotton. "Well, I won't think of that either," she told herself. "Taxes aren't a woman's job anyway. Pa ought to look after such things, but Pa -- I won't think of Pa now. The Confederacy can whistle for its taxes. What we need now is something to eat." "Pork, have any of you been to Twelve Oaks or the MacIntosh place to see if there's anything left in the gardens there?" "No, Ma'm! Us ain' lef' Tara. De Yankees mout git us." "I'll send Dilcey over to MacIntosh. Perhaps she'll find something there. And I'll go to Twelve Oaks." "Who wid, chile?" "By myself. Mammy must stay with the girls and Mr. Gerald can't -- " Pork set up an outcry which she found infuriating. There might be Yankees or mean niggers at Twelve Oaks. She mustn't go alone. "That will be enough, Pork. Tell Dilcey to start immediately. And you and Prissy go bring in the sow and her litter," she said briefly, turning on her heel. Mammy's old sunbonnet, faded but clean, hung on its peg on the back porch and Scarlett put it on her head, remembering, as from another world, the bonnet with curling green plume which Rhett had brought her from Paris. She picked up a large split-oak basket and started down the back stairs, each step jouncing her head until her spine seemed to be trying to crash through the top of her skull. The road down to the river lay red and scorching between the ruined cotton fields. There were no trees to cast a shade and the sun beat down through Mammy's sunbonnet as if it were made of tarlatan instead of heavy quilted calico, while the dust floating upward sifted into her nose and throat until she felt the membranes would crack if she spoke. Deep ruts and furrows were cut into the road where horses had dragged heavy guns along it and the red gullies on either side were deeply gashed by the wheels. The cotton was mangled and trampled where cavalry and infantry, forced off the narrow road by the artillery, had marched through the green bushes, grinding them into the earth. Here and there in road and fields lay buckles and bits of harness leather, canteens flattened by hooves and caisson wheels, buttons, blue caps, worn socks, bits of bloody rags, all the litter left by a marching army. She passed the clump of cedars and the low brick wall which marked the family burying ground, trying not to think of the new grave lying by the three short mounds of her little brothers. Oh, Ellen -- She trudged on down the dusty hill, passing the heap of ashes and the stumpy chimney where the Slattery house had stood, and she wished savagely that the whole tribe of them had been part of the ashes. If it hadn't been for that nasty Emmie, who'd had a bastard brat by their overseer -- Ellen wouldn't have died. She moaned as a sharp pebble cut into her blistered foot. What was she doing here? Why was Scarlett O'Hara, the belle of the County, the sheltered pride of Tara, tramping down this rough road almost barefoot? Her little feet were made to dance, not to limp, her tiny slippers to peep daringly from under bright silks, not to collect sharp pebbles and dust. She was born to be pampered and waited upon, and here she was, sick and ragged, driven by hunger to hunt for food in the gardens of her neighbors. At the bottom of the long hill was the river and how cool and still were the tangled trees overhanging the water! She sank down on the low bank, and stripping off the remnants of her slippers and stockings, dabbled her burning feet in the cool water. It would be so good to sit here all day, away from the helpless eyes of Tara, here where only the rustle of leaves and the gurgle of slow water broke the stillness. But reluctantly she replaced her shoes and stockings and trudged down the bank, spongy with moss, under the shady trees. The Yankees had burned the bridge but she knew of a footlog bridge across a narrow point of the stream a hundred yards below. She crossed it cautiously and trudged uphill the hot half-mile to Twelve Oaks. There towered the twelve oaks, as they had stood since Indian days, but with their leaves brown from fire and the branches burned and scorched. Within their circle lay the ruins of John Wilkes' house, the charred remains of that once stately home which had crowned the hill in white-columned dignity. The deep pit which had been the cellar, the blackened field-stone foundations and two mighty chimneys marked the site. One long column, half-burned, had fallen across the lawn, crushing the cape jessamine bushes. Scarlett sat down on the column, too sick at the sight to go on. This desolation went to her heart as nothing she had ever experienced. Here was the Wilkes pride in the dust at her feet. Here was the end of the kindly, courteous house which had always welcomed her, the house where in futile dreams she had aspired to be mistress. Here she had danced and dined and flirted and here she had watched with a jealous, hurting heart how Melanie smiled up at Ashley. Here, too, in the cool shadows of the trees, Charles Hamilton had rapturously pressed her hand when she said she would marry him. "Oh, Ashley," she thought, "I hope you are dead! I could never bear for you to see this." Ashley had married his bride here but his son and his son's son would never bring brides to this house. There would be no more matings and births beneath the roof which she had so loved and longed to rule. The house was dead and, to Scarlett, it was as if all the Wilkeses, too, were dead in its ashes. "I won't think of it now. I can't stand it now. I'll think of it later," she said aloud, turning her eyes away. Seeking the garden, she limped around the ruins, by the trampled rose beds the Wilkes girls had tended so zealously, across the back yard and through the ashes of the smokehouse, barns and chicken houses. The split-rail fence around the kitchen garden had been demolished and the once orderly rows of green plants had suffered the same treatment as those at Tara. The soft earth was scarred with hoof prints and heavy wheels and the vegetables were mashed into the soil. There was nothing for her here. She walked back across the yard and took the path down toward the silent row of whitewashed cabins in the quarters, calling "Hello!" as she went. But no voice answered her. Not even a dog barked. Evidently the Wilkes negroes had taken flight or followed the Yankees. She knew every slave had his own garden patch and as she reached the quarters, she hoped these little patches had been spared. Her search was rewarded but she was too tired even to feel pleasure at the sight of turnips and cabbages, wilted for want of water but still standing, and straggling butter beans and snap beans, yellowing but edible. She sat down in the furrows and dug into the earth with hands that shook, filling her basket slowly. There would be a good meal at Tara tonight, in spite of the lack of side meat to boil with the vegetables. Perhaps some of the bacon grease Dilcey was using for illumination could be used for seasoning. She must remember to tell Dilcey to use pine knots and save the grease for cooking. Close to the back step of one cabin, she found a short row of radishes and hunger assaulted her suddenly. A spicy, sharp-tasting radish was exactly what her stomach craved. Hardly waiting to rub the dirt off on her skirt, she bit off half and swallowed it hastily. It was old and coarse and so peppery that tears started in her eyes. No sooner had the lump gone down than her empty stomach revolted and she lay in the soft dirt and vomited tiredly. The faint niggery smell which crept from the cabin increased her nausea and, without strength to combat it, she kept on retching miserably while the cabins and trees revolved swiftly around her. After a long time, she lay weakly on her face, the earth as soft and comfortable as a feather pillow, and her mind wandered feebly here and there. She, Scarlett O'Hara, was lying behind a negro cabin, in the midst of ruins, too sick and too weak to move, and no one in the world knew or cared. No one would care if they did know, for everyone had too many troubles of their own to worry about her. And all this was happening to her, Scarlett O'Hara, who had never raised her hand even to pick up her discarded stockings from the floor or to tie the laces of her slippers -- Scarlett, whose little headaches and tempers had been coddled and catered to all her life. As she lay prostrate, too weak to fight off memories and worries, they rushed at her, circled about her like buzzards waiting for a death. No longer had she the strength to say: "I'll think of Mother and Pa and Ashley and all this ruin later -- Yes, later when I can stand it." She could not stand it now, but she was thinking of them whether she willed it or not. The thoughts circled and swooped above her, dived down and drove tearing claws and sharp beaks into her mind. For a timeless time, she lay still, her face in the dirt, the sun beating hotly upon her, remembering things and people who were dead, remembering a way of living that was gone forever -- and looking upon the harsh vista of the dark future. When she arose at last and saw again the black ruins of Twelve Oaks, her head was raised high and something that was youth and beauty and potential tenderness had gone out of her face forever. What was past was past. Those who were dead were dead. The lazy luxury of the old days was gone, never to return. And, as Scarlett settled the heavy basket across her arm, she had settled her own mind and her own life. There was no going back and she was going forward. Throughout the South for fifty years there would be bitter-eyed women who looked backward, to dead times, to dead men, evoking memories that hurt and were futile, bearing poverty with bitter pride because they had those memories. But Scarlett was never to look back. She gazed at the blackened stones and, for the last time, she saw Twelve Oaks rise before her eyes as it had once stood, rich and proud, symbol of a race and a way of living. Then she started down the road toward Tara, the heavy basket cutting into her flesh. Hunger gnawed at her empty stomach again and she said aloud: "As God is my witness, as God is my witness, the Yankees aren't going to lick me. I'm going to live through this, and when it's over, I'm never going to be hungry again. No, nor any of my folks. If I have to steal or kill -- as God is my witness, I'm never going to be hungry again." Copyright 1936 by Macmillan Publishing Company, a division of Macmillan, Inc. Copyright renewed (c) 1964 by Stephens Mitchell and Trust Company of Georgia as Executors of Margaret Mitchell Marsh Excerpted from Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.
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  New York Times Review

MANY AMERICANS MIGHT not know the more polemical side of race writing in our history. The canon of African-American literature is well established. Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, James Baldwin are familiar figures. Far less so is Samuel Morton (champion of the obsolete theory of polygenesis) or Thomas Dixon (author of novels romanticizing Klan violence). It is tempting to think that the influence of those dusty polemics ebbed as the dust accumulated. But their legacy persists, freshly shaping much of our racial discourse. On the occasion of Black History Month, I've selected the most influential books on race and the black experience published in the United States for each decade of the nation's existence - a history of race through ideas, arranged chronologically on the shelf. (In many cases, I've added a complementary work, noted with an asterisk.) Each of these books was either published first in the United States or widely read by Americans. They inspired - and sometimes ended - the fiercest debates of their times: debates over slavery, segregation, mass incarceration. They offered racist explanations for inequities, and antiracist correctives. Some - the poems of Phillis Wheatley, the memoir of Frederick Douglass - stand literature's test of time. Others have been roundly debunked by science, by data, by human experience. No list can ever be comprehensive, and "most influential" by no means signifies "best." But I would argue that together, these works tell the history of anti-black racism in the United States as painfully, as eloquently, as disturbingly as words can. In many ways, they also tell its present. 1771-1780 POEMS ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS, RELIGIOUS AND MORAL, by Phillis Wheatley (1773) No book during the Revolutionary era stirred more debates over slavery than this first-ever book by an African-American woman. Assimilationists and abolitionists exhibited Wheatley and her poetry as proof that an "uncultivated barbarian from Africa" could be civilized, that enslaved Africans "may be refin'd, and join th' angelic train" of European civilization and human freedom. Phillis Wheatley Enslavers disagreed, and lashed out at Wheatley's "Poems." * "An Address to the Inhabitants of British Settlements, on the Slavery of the Negroes in America," by Benjamin Rush (1773) 1781-1790 NOTES ON THE STATE OF VIRGINIA, by Thomas Jefferson (1785) The author of American freedom in 1776 wrote of American slavery as a necessary evil in this book, widely regarded as the most important political portrait of the nascent United States. Jefferson indicted the "tyranny" Ibram x. kendi, a professor of history at the University of Florida, won the National Book Award for "Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America." of slavery while also supplying fellow slaveholders with a batch of prejudices to justify slavery's rapid expansion. Blacks "are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind," he wrote. And Wheatley is not "a poet." *"The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano; Or, Gustavus Vassa, the African" (1789) 1791-1800 PENNSYLVANIA, DELAWARE, MARYLAND, AND VIRGINIA ALMANAC AND EPHEMERS, by Benjamin Banneker (1792-97) After helping to survey the District of Columbia, Banneker compiled his first almanac, replacing Wheatley's "Poems" as abolitionists' finest showpiece of black capability. He enclosed the almanac in a letter to Jefferson, writing, "I apprehend you will embrace every opportunity, to eradicate that train of absurd and false ideas and opinions." Jefferson did not jump off the train, but other Americans did while reading this remarkable book. Thomas Jefferson 1801-1810 AN ESSAY ON THE CAUSES OF VARIETY OF COMPLEXION AND FIGURE IN THE HUMAN SPECIES, by Samuel Stanhope Smith (second edition, 1810) The Princeton president tried to stop the polygenesis theory that the races are created unequal, stoutly defending biblical monogenesis and the notion that first humans were white. He called for physical assimilation: In a colder climate blackened skins would revert to their original white beauty; "the woolly substance" on black heads would become "fine, straight hair" again. His racist idea of the lighter and straighter the better still demeans after all these years. 1811-1820 THOUGHTS ON THE COLONIZATION OF FREE BLACKS, by Robert Finley (1816) Blacks should be freed, trained "for self-government" and returned to Africa, according to the antislavery clergyman and former student of Samuel Stanhope Smith. Finley wrote the manifesto for colonization, a cause supported by several American leaders until Lincoln's failed schemes doomed the movement during the Civil War. *"An Appeal From the Judgments of Great Britain Respecting the United States of America," by Robert Walsh (1819) 1821-1830 AN APPEAL TO THE COLORED CITIZENS OF THE WORLD, by David Walker (1829) This Boston abolitionist viciously assailed colonization and "Mr. Jefferson's arguments" in the first booklength attack on the "inhuman system of slavery" by an African-American. Black seamen smuggled the appeal into chained Southern hands; community readers sounded the appeal to violently throw off the violent yoke. Walker's ultimatum for slaveholders: Give us freedom and rights, or you will "curse the day that you ever were born! " 1831-1840 CRANIA AMERICANA, by Samuel Morton (1839) This book revived the theory of polygenesis that dominated intellectual racial discourse until the Civil War. What reviewers hailed as an "immense body of facts" were Morton's measurements of the "mean internal capacity" of the human skulls in his renowned collection in Philadelphia, from which he concluded that whites had the "highest intellectual endowments." * "Review of the Debate in the Virginia Legislature of 1831 and 1832," by Thomas Roderick Dew (1832), and "Thoughts on African Colonization," by William Lloyd Garrison (1832) 1841-1850 THE NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS (1845) The gripping best seller earned Douglass international prestige and forced readers around the world to come to terms with slavery's brutality and blacks' freedom dreams. No other piece of antislavery literature so devastated Morton's defense of polygenesis, or John C. Calhoun's recently popularized theory that slavery was a "positive good." *"The Narrative of Sojourner Truth" (1850) 1851-1860 UNCLE TOM'S CABIN, by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852) Inflamed by the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, Stowe offered a fugitive slave story that made millions sympathize with slaves. Her novel - and its dramatic adaptations - turned the "hard and dominant Anglo-Saxon race" toward Christian salvation with a simple lesson: to stop enslaving quintessential Christians in all their "lowly docility of heart." From accommodating Uncle Toms to superior mulattoes to soulful Africans, the book also popularized any number of lasting racist tropes. *"On the Origin of Species," by Charles Darwin (1859) 1861-1870 THE PRINCIPLES OF BIOLOGY, by Herbert Spencer (1864) In "Principles," Spencer coined the term "survival of the fittest," becoming the ultimate amplifier of Social Darwinism in the United States. Americans fell in love with his comprehensive theory of evolution, claiming that Reconstruction policies would allow inferior blacks to evolve (or assimilate) into white civilization or lose the struggle for existence. The net effect of Spencer's Social Darwinism: the eugenics movement of the early 20th century. * "Hereditary Genius," by Sir Francis Gabon (1869) 1871-1880 THE PROSTRATE STATE: South Carolina Under Negro Government, by James Pike (1874) This prominent New York journalist blanketed the nation with fairy tales of corrupt, incompetent, lazy Black Republican politicians. Reconstruction's enfranchising policies were a "tragedy," Pike wrote, nothing but "the slave rioting in the halls of his master." His "objective" reporting caused many once sympathetic Northerners to demand a national reunion based on white rule. *"The Descent of Man," by Charles Darwin (1871) 1881-1890 OUR BROTHER IN BLACK: His Freedom and His Future, by Atticus Haygood (1881) In the 1880s, Southern segregationists marketed their region as the New South, among them this Methodist bishop and Emory College president. In his popular book, Haygood eased consciences that the end of Reconstruction meant the end of black rights. The New South will be as good for black folk as the old, Haygood declared, as new white Southerners would continue to civilize inferior black folk in their nicely segregated free-labor society. *"The Plantation Negro as a Freeman," by Philip Alexander Bruce (1889) 1891-1900 RACE TRAITS AND TENDENCIES OF THE AMERICAN NEGRO, by Frederick Hoffman (1896) Better covered than the Plessy v. Ferguson decision that year, "Race Traits" catapulted this statistician into scientific celebrity. At the time of emancipation, blacks were "healthy in body and cheerful in mind," Hoffman wrote. Thirty years later, the 1890 census forecasts their "gradual extinction," due to natural immoralities and a propensity for diseases. He blazed the trail of racist ideas in American criminology when he concluded that higher black arrest rates indicated blacks committed more crimes. * "Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases," by Ida B. Wells (1892) 1901-1910 THE CLANSMAN: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan, by Thomas Dixon (1905) Convinced that "Uncle Tom's Cabin" had misrepresented the South, Dixon emerged as Jim Crow's novelist laureate. "The Clansman" was the most influential of his works, particularly after it was adapted into a popular play and D. W. Griffith's 1915 film "The Birth of a Nation." In Dixon's telling, the virtuous Ku Klux Klan saved Southern whites from their "awful suffering" during Reconstruction. * "The Souls of Black Folk," by W. E. B. Du Bois (1903) 1911-1920 TARZAN OF THE APES, by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1912) With his racist colonial plot, Burroughs glued animals, savages and Africa together in the American mind, and redeemed white masculinity after the first black heavyweight champion knocked it out in 1908. Forget boxing and Jack Johnson - white men embraced Tarzan, the inspiration for comic strips, 25 sequels and dozens of motion pictures. *"The Passing of the Great Race," by Madison Grant (1916) 1921-1930 NIGGER HEAVEN, by Carl Van Vechten (1926) Van Vechten was the Harlem Renaissance's ubiquitous white patron, a man as curiously passionate about showing off black people as zookeepers are about showing off their rare species. Through this best-selling novel, he gave white Americans a racist tour of the safari of Harlem, casting assimilated blacks in the guise of tropical exotic lands being spoiled by white developers. *"The Weary Blues," by Langston Hughes (1926) 1931-1940 GONE WITH THE WIND, by Margaret Mitchell (1936) The Pulitzer Prize-winning jewel of the plantation fiction genre, this was Americans' second all-time favorite book behind the Bible, according to a 2014 f Harris Poll. Mitchell portrays white enslavers as noble, slaves as shiftless, docile and loyal. Mitchell did for slavery what Dixon did for Reconstruction and Burroughs for Africa. * "Their Eyes Were Watching God," Zora Neale Hurston (1937) and "Native Son," by Richard Wright (1940) 1941-1950 AN AMERICAN DILEMMA: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy, by Gunnar Myrdal (1944) As Americans fought against Nazism overseas, this Swedish economist served up an encyclopedic revelation of racial discrimination in their backyards. If there was a scholarly trigger for the civil rights movement, this was it. Myrdal concluded that "a great majority" of whites would "give the Negro a substantially better deal if they knew the facts." Segregationists seethed, and racial reformers were galvanized to show the truth of Jim Crow. *"Race: Science and Politics," by Ruth Benedict (revised edition, 1943) 1951-1960 TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, by Harper Lee (1960) This instant classic about a white lawyer defending a black man wrongly accused of rape was the "Uncle Tom's Cabin" of the civil rights movement. "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy," a neighbor tells the lawyer's daughter, Scout. She's talking about their reclusive white neighbor, Boo Radley, but the African-Americans of 1930s Alabama come across as singing spectators, thankful for the moral heroism of Atticus Finch. The white savior remains the most popular racist character in American letters. * "Invisible Man," by Ralph Ellison (1952) 1961-1970 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM X, as told to Alex Haley (1965) It was the manifesto for the Black Power movement, where young black saviors arose, alienated by white saviors and the slow pace of civil rights change. Malcolm wrote black pride before James Brown sang it. His ideological transformation from assimilationist to anti-white separatist to antiracist inspired millions of all races. * "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," by Maya Angelou (1969) 1971-1980 ROOTS: The Saga of an American Family, by Alex Haley (1976) For African-Americans in the radiance of Black Power's turn to Pan-Africanism, the thrilling and terrifying story of Kunta Kinte and his descendants arrived right on time. The best seller inspired one of the most watched shows in American television history. "Roots" dispatched legions of racist ideas of backward Africa, of civilizing slavery, of the contented slave, of loose enslaved women. The plantation genre of happy mammies and Sambos was gone with the wind. * "The Declining Significance of Race," by William Julius Wilson (1978) 1981-1990 THE COLOR PURPLE, by Alice Walker (1982) Of the black feminist classics of the period, Walker's garnered the most prestige - a National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize - and controversy. Set in 1930s rural Georgia, the story shows a black woman finding happiness beyond abusive black patriarchs, Southern poverty and racist whites. Steven Spielberg's 1985 blockbuster adaptation cemented its legacy. * "Beloved," by Toni Morrison (1987) 1991-2000 THE BELL CURVE: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray (1994) Herrnstein and Murray offered validation for Americans raging about pathological blacks and crime, welfare and affirmative action. "Inequality of endowments, including intelligence, is a reality," they wrote, sparking one of the most intense academic wars in history over whether genes or environment had caused the racial "achievement gap" in standardized test scores. * "America in Black and White," by Stephan Thernstrom and Abigail Thernstrom (1997) 2001-2010 THE NEW JIM CROW: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander (2010) Two years after Obama's election, Alexander put the entire criminal justice system on trial, exposing racial discrimination from lawmaking to policing to the denial of voting rights to exprisoners. This best seller struck the spark that would eventually Michelle Alexander light the fire of Black Lives Matter. * "Dreams From My Father," by Barack Obama (2004 reprint) ?
Summary
Nominated as one of America's best-loved novels by PBS's The Great American Read. <br> <br> Margaret Mitchell's epic novel of love and war won the Pulitzer Prize and went on to give rise to two authorized sequels and one of the most popular and celebrated movies of all time.<br> <br> Many novels have been written about the Civil War and its aftermath. None take us into the burning fields and cities of the American South as Gone With the Wind does, creating haunting scenes and thrilling portraits of characters so vivid that we remember their words and feel their fear and hunger for the rest of our lives.<br> <br> In the two main characters, the white-shouldered, irresistible Scarlett and the flashy, contemptuous Rhett, Margaret Mitchell not only conveyed a timeless story of survival under the harshest of circumstances, she also created two of the most famous lovers in the English-speaking world since Romeo and Juliet.
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