Atticus Finch

Atticus Finch

The Biography

Who was the real Atticus Finch?

The publication of Go Set a Watchman in 2015 forever changed how we think about Atticus Finch. Once seen as a paragon of decency, he was reduced to a small-town racist. How are we to understand this transformation?

In Atticus Finch, historian Joseph Crespino draws on exclusive sources to reveal how Harper Lee’s father provided the central inspiration for each of her books. A lawyer and newspaperman, A. C. Lee was a principled opponent of mob rule, yet he was also a racial paternalist. Harper Lee created the Atticus of Watchman out of the ambivalence she felt toward white southerners like him. But when a militant segregationist movement arose that mocked his values, she revised the character in To Kill a Mockingbird to defend her father and to remind the South of its best traditions. A story of family and literature amid the upheavals of the twentieth century, Atticus Finch is essential to understanding Harper Lee, her novels, and her times.
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Genre: Nonfiction / Biography & Autobiography / Literary

On Sale: May 8th 2018

Price: $17.99

Page Count: 272

ISBN-13: 9781541644953

What's Inside

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"Crespino transforms his subject into something much more than a caricature. He also answers the difficult question of how a man could get elected again and again, well into the Nineties, despite having been the most fervent supporter of a social system now universally considered to have been a national disgrace."
--National Review

"Joseph Crespino argues convincingly [that] Thurmond's political impact reached far beyond the nostalgic Old South . . . Crespino's lucid, illuminating book reveals an outsize political personage whose complexities often eluded supporters and antagonists alike."
--American History

"[O]utstanding . . . Crespino presents the right blend of narrative, scholarly analysis, and restrained outrage."
--The Washington Monthly
"Insightful . . . masterfully ties together complex historical strands . . . Crespino doesn't make Thurmond likable, but that's not his goal. His is loftier and more difficult: to get beneath the surface of an influential politician in order to shed light on our times."
--Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"[A] fine new biography . . . fascinating as political drama."
--The Barnes & Noble Review

"[An] impressive biography . . . Crespino's portrait reveals a flawed, egotistical, unapologetic, headstrong man whose views helped give birth to the contemporary Right and whose legacy continues to influence the GOP."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Engaging . . . offer[s] a far more authoritative portrait than Jack Bass and Marilyn W. Thompson's Strom or Jeffrey K. Smith's Dixiecrat . . . Strongly recommended for anyone interested in 20th-century American political history or biography."
--Library Journal

"A highly useful and timely companion in an election cycle marked by the resurgence of the controversies of Thurmond's day."
--Kirkus Reviews

"No other book is likely to offer a more insightful understanding of both Strom Thurmond the man and the age in which he lived. This is a thoroughly terrific and important work, for it makes clear the continuing impact of Thurmond's legacy on our politics today."
--Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Team of Rivals
"Joseph Crespino's Strom Thurmond's America is a historical biography that makes much of recent U.S. history more understandable. It is essential reading for anyone interested in post-1945 American politics."
--Robert Dallek, author of An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963

"Joseph Crespino brilliantly captures the hypocrisy of a southern society that could mold Strom Thurmond into, simultaneously, an audacious white separatist and a flagrant race-mixer willing to abandon his own black daughter. Crespino also properly positions Thurmond not as an outlier or a relic of a distant era of Dixiecrat racism, but as the architect and harbinger of the extremist, racially tinged politics that would reshape the Republican Party into the twenty-first century."
--Douglas A. Blackmon, former chief of the Wall Street Journal's Atlanta bureau and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Slavery by Another Name
"This pathbreaking biography reveals a Strom Thurmond whose influence stretched far beyond the racist precincts of Dixie. He was, as Joseph Crespino brilliantly shows, a pioneer of many of the conservative themes we now take for granted: stalwart anticommunism, opposition to labor unions, support for 'law and order,' and the promotion of 'family values.' Crespino combines the incisiveness of a fine scholar with the literary talent of a gifted storyteller. When I finished the book, I almost felt like cheering!"
--Michael Kazin, author of American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation

"Strom Thurmond has become one of those antic men people hear about but can't quite believe existed--the racist demagogue with the secret biracial daughter who made self-interest into a public art form. Because Thurmond was such a gifted opportunist, it's difficult to say what he really believed, leaving the resourceful historian Joseph Crespino to do the near impossible. Strom Thurmond's America is a reasonable portrait of a reactionary that serves as a valuable prism through which to examine the ways politicians encourage social divisions to consolidate power."
--Nicholas Dawidoff, author of The Crowd Sounds Happy and The Catcher Was a Spy
"Strom Thurmond's America is at once a captivating portrait of an important national figure and a nuanced and provocative rethinking of recent American political history. Joseph Crespino handles Thurmond's personal story with great aplomb and persuasively reframes the late senator as a pivotal character in modern American politics."
--Bruce Schulman, author of The Seventies: The Great Shift in American Culture, Society, and Politics

"Joseph Crespino offers a provocative account of Strom Thurmond's life and the ways in which some conservatives used race to build a national coalition. He makes a compelling and original case that, rather than a throwback to an earlier era in politics, Thurmond was one of the architects of the modern Republican Party, a sophisticated political strategist who played on the fears and anxieties of the American electorate."
--Julian E. Zelizer, author of Jimmy Carter and Governing America
For In Search of Another Country:

Winner of the 2008 Lillian Smith Book Award, Southern Regional Council

Winner of the 2007 McLemore Prize for the Best Mississippi History Book
"Elucidating the connection between modern conservatives who avow racial equality and the southern segregationists who so strongly resisted it, . . . Crespino counters the facile historical claims of conservatives who identify their movement with the religious, nonviolent, and integrationist civil rights crusades of the 1950s and early 1960s."
--Paul V. Murphy, American Historical Review

"In Search of Another Country is an excellent addition to the growing literature on the Republican counterrevolution in the American South. It is well researched and deftly argued. Although the layman might not appreciate its careful attention to detail, the specialist will. Indeed, it is a book that deserves a place on the shelf of every research library."
--Barton C. Shaw, Journal of American Studies

"In this important and engagingly written book historian Joseph Crespino has examined Mississippi's white population and has discovered more complexity, and much more change over time, than Phil Ochs [in his biting anthem, 'Here's to the State of Mississippi'] would have thought possible."
--Bruce Nelson, Journal of Southern History
"Crespino navigates . . . with consummate skill, offering clear understandings of state and national politics and basing his linkages of the two fields on solid evidence. . . . In Search of Another Country is a stellar work of historical scholarship, powerfully researched, organized, and argued."
--Peter N. Stearns, Journal of Social History

"In his study of Mississippi, Crespino provides a challenging, comprehensive examination of white southerners confronting the modern Civil Rights Movement. While focusing on the actions, strategies, and beliefs from the Brown v. Board of Education decision to the rise of Ronald Reagan in 1980, Crespino successfully reevaluates the perspective of southern whites beyond the Ku Klux Klan and those espousing virulent racism."
--J. Michael Bitzer, Choice