New & Noteworthy

Slavery, Secession, and Southern History
edited by Robert Louis Paquette and Louis A. Ferlenger
University Press of Virginia
229 pages, $49.50/$18.50

Slavery, Secession, and Southern History

A festschrift—a collection of essays written in honor of a venerable, often geriatric, scholar—is nearly always a tome that only a graduate student could love. This one, however, is different—because its topic, slavery, has over the past forty years inspired more brilliant works of American history than any other, because its contributors are some of the most astute scholars exploring that subject, and above all because the man it honors, Eugene D. Genovese, is this country's greatest living historian. Taken together, the essays allow the general reader to grasp the extraordinary variety of approaches and disciplines—ranging from anthropology to theology to econometrics to literary criticism—through which historians have illuminated this complex and anguishing topic. And, along with a lengthy interview with the honoree, they help the layman to grasp Genovese's dazzling achievement. Exceptionally honest and tough-minded, Genovese emerges from this volume as a model intellectual, following the truth wherever it takes him, and for as long as necessary. For example, to fulfill his "lifelong ambition" to write a monumental study of southern slaveholders, he first had to learn everything he could about the slaves. In doing so, Genovese—then a Marxist and, in his own words, "an atheist, a materialist [and] a smart-assed New York intellectual"—was forced to recognize that Christianity was the central element of slave life; despite his biases, he therefore made it the focus of his study. This ten-year "detour" resulted in Roll, Jordan, Roll, the most penetrating work ever written about American slaves (his magnum opus, The Mind of the Master Class, written with his wife, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, nears completion). Among Genovese's most striking revelations is the intense and tangled relationship between masters and slaves. Resting on unlimited violence, American slavery commingled intimacy, affection, and dependency with hatred, brutality, and self-contempt. It was all the more terrible for its paradoxes and subtle moral entanglements.

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Benjamin Schwarz is the former literary and national editor for The Atlantic. He is writing a book about Winston Churchill for Random House. More

His first piece for the magazine, "The Diversity Myth," was a cover story in 1995. Since then he's written articles and reviews on a startling array of subjects from fashion to the American South, from current fiction to the Victorian family, and from international economics to Chinese restaurants. Schwarz oversees and writes a monthly column for "Books and Critics," the magazine's cultural department, which under his editorship has expanded its coverage to include popular culture and manners and mores, as well as books and ideas. He also regularly writes the "leader" for the magazine. Before joining the Atlantic's staff, Schwarz was the executive editor of World Policy Journal, where his chief mission was to bolster the coverage of cultural issues, international economics, and military affairs. For several years he was a foreign policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, where he researched and wrote on American global strategy, counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and military doctrine. Schwarz was also staff member of the Brookings Institution. Born in 1963, he holds a B.A. and an M.A. in history from Yale, and was a Fulbright scholar at Oxford. He has written for a variety of newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy, The National Interest, and The Nation. He has lectured at a range of institutions, from the U.S. Air Force Special Operations School to the Center for Social Theory and Comparative History. He won the 1999 National Book Critics Circle award for excellence in book criticism.

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