Explores how the history, customs, and values of the southern United States are shaping the rest of the country
As we move toward the end of the century, Southern values have become American values. Southern politicians lead both political parties, and the South has powered the rightward shift in American politics over the course of the past three decades. The South is far and away the leading area of population and economic growth in America. People in Michigan are listening to country music and parishioners in California are worshiping at Southern Baptist churches. New Yorkers are lining up to hear Newt Gingrich speak and militia members in Idaho look at Southern neo-Confederates as allies and inspirations. And while the nation wrestles with problems of race, ethnicity, and diversity, no place has grappled with those problems longer, with both tragic and triumphant results, than the South.Applebome takes us on a wild ride through a South that is both undoubtedly new and still shaped by old ways. We visit Montgomery, Alabama, where an aging and ill George Wallace looks back and realizes that he's won; Charlotte, North Carolina, where the go-go spirit of the entrepreneurial New South and a vibrant political progressivism live side by side; Nashville, Tennessee, where country music suddenly finds itself the most popular thing on America's radio dial; Honea Path, South Carolina, where the ghosts of murdered strikers still haunt the town - and labor relations - sixty-two years later; Cobb County, Georgia, where old racial issues play out in a new suburban setting; Wilmington, North Carolina, where school segregation is again an issue, only this time those in favor of it are black.Applebome also takes us to Selma, Alabama, where veteran civil rights activists gather again to remember the past and wonder about the future; to the Mississippi Delta, where neon-drenched casinos and gourmet catfish farms are neighbors to some of America's most astonishing poverty; and Columbia, South Carolina, where a growing group of Southerners believe that the Confederacy was more than a lost cause - it is one still worth fighting for.