Edward L. Ayers, "Southern Journey: The Migrations of the American South, 1790-2020" (LSU Press, 2020)

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Taking a wide focus, Southern Journey: The Migrations of the American South, 1790-2020 (LSU Press, 2020) narrates the evolution of southern history from the founding of the nation to the present day by focusing on the settling, unsettling, and resettling of the South. Using migration as the dominant theme of southern history and including indigenous, white, black, and immigrant people in the story, Edward L. Ayers cuts across the usual geographic, thematic, and chronological boundaries that subdivide southern history.

Ayers explains the major contours and events of the southern past from a fresh perspective, weaving geography with history in innovative ways. He uses unique color maps created with sophisticated geographic information system (GIS) tools to interpret massive data sets from a humanistic perspective, providing a view of movement within the South with a clarity, detail, and continuity we have not seen before. The South has never stood still; it is—and always has been—changing in deep, radical, sometimes contradictory ways, often in divergent directions.

Ayers’s history of migration in the South is a broad yet deep reinterpretation of the region’s past that informs our understanding of the population, economy, politics, and culture of the South today. Southern Journey is not only a pioneering work of history; it is a grand recasting of the South’s past by one of its most renowned and appreciated scholars.

Brandon T. Jett, professor of history at Florida SouthWestern State College, creator of the Lynching in LaBelle Digital History Project, and author of Race, Crime, and Policing in the Jim Crow South (LSU Press, 202) Twitter: @DrBrandonJett1

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