Carl Degler The Other South Analysis

1688 Words7 Pages
The Other South is, as author Carl Degler bluntly states in the opening sentence, “a book about losers.” The losers, of course, are the white Southern dissenters of the “nineteenth century who stood out against the prevailing views and values of their region while remaining there.” Degler effectively paints an image of a portion of the southern demographic that is most times overlooked not only by providing solid facts, but also personal accounts of those that actually fought for the liberation of slaves and the continuation of the Union. Regardless of one’s personal perceptions or learned facts of the Civil War, The Other South and its combination of first-person accounts alongside second-person analysis creates a potent argument all its own…show more content…
Degler makes another valid point that the burdening “circumstances, events, and common experiences that have set Southerners apart from other Americans in the past will not soon be cast off” though many, “like the dissenters here, consciously seek to throw off that burden” by attempting to advance social change. In history, this effort can be seen through the casting off of said burden during the Radical Reconstruction “when whites who opposed Reconstruction organized themselves into paramilitary or terrorist organizations like the Knights of the White Camellia, The Red Shirts, or the Ku Klux Klan,”p249-50 who targeted “not only the blacks but those whites who supported and worked with the blacks.” [^ SHOULDN’T THIS CITATION BE HERE INSTEAD SINCE IT’S THE END OF THE QUOTATION...?] Despite death threats, harassment, and even physical violence committed against the white dissenters by these noted organizations, many continued to hold their ground, standing as a testament to their commitment of defending the political equality of all men. In fact, some states even organized militia of both races to fend off these hate groups bringing the heated relations to physical conflict in which “Southern white men fought other Southern white men over the principle that black men…show more content…
As mentioned previously, Degler poses incredibly valid perceptions, ranging from the acknowledgement of the double history of the South to the burden of the past that all Southerners must bear, all of which truly support his thesis and shine a light on things that I as a Southerner myself can legitimately relate to. He plainly states that he is not of Southern heritage, “neither by birth nor by adoption,” but that his “interest in the region derives” from his “conviction as a historian that the past limits options for change in the present.” [CITATION NEEDED HERE] This admittance, I believe, greatly supports Degler’s work, for by not being a Southerner himself, I find that The Other South is a substantially unbiased work. Likewise, I found it refreshing to read, for the book’s content was not bogged down in lists of dates and facts but rather provided the reader with a collection of stories from actual people, making it easier to comprehend the mindset of the dissenters the book is based around. All in all, I would recommend The Other South to anyone that has an interest in taking a different look at Southern culture and behavior in the nineteenth century, even if just because the chance that it could make someone question their perception of the region as a whole significantly
Open Document