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The Mind of the South

3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  390 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
Ever since its publication in 1941, The Mind of the South has been recognized as a path-breaking work of scholarship and as a literary achievement of enormous eloquence and insight in its own right. From its investigation of the Southern class system to its pioneering assessments of the region's legacies of racism, religiosity, and romanticism, W. J. Cash's book defined th ...more
Paperback, 440 pages
Published September 10th 1991 by Random House USA Inc (first published 1940)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,152)
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Chloe
Jan 08, 2011 Chloe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I grew up in California, the farthest away that you can get to the South. 4 years ago, I decided to go to college in a small, boondock town in rural Virginia, and found myself in a whole other era. I have a certain "love" for the South that is more like fondness than actual love - because I am not a Southerner, and therefore I can never completely understand. This book, however, is as close as I can get to understanding the real culture and heritage of the South and the way the Southerner (then ...more
Bob Mustin
May 04, 2013 Bob Mustin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was written some 75 years ago, and it’s amazing to me how closely Southern attitudes, the social structure, the personals and political cants of that time, parallel those of the South today. It’s tempting to make an essay of this review, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll list some of the predominant traits Cash (and I) see in the ongoing South (note - some of these bear explaining, I admit, and some are contradictory):

Romantic
Primitive
Unschooled
Racist
Anti-federalism
Resistant to change
Hedonist
...more
Jill Hutchinson
This is a rather slow read as one must pause and think about the author's assumptions after every chapter. Written in 1941, the book is dated but still presents a prescient look at the world today and the problems that have existed which initially divided the country into the "North" and the "South". Cash traces the reasons that he believes have shaped the "Southern attitude" from the early 1800s....many seem right on target while others sometimes stretch the point a bit.

This is considered one o
...more
Daniel
Oct 10, 2009 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In his tome "The Mind of the South," W.J. Cash seeks to holistically interpret the development of the Southern ethos by exploring the evolution of the region from the colonial period through reconstruction. Cash determines that the paramount sensibilities of Southern society were determined through the qualities of simplicity, romanticism, violence, white supremacy, and individualism. This conclusion is demonstrated through admirable use of the English lexicon and convincing, if not convoluted, ...more
Louis
Mar 25, 2009 Louis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was assigned this book in a Southern history course in college. I expected a volume with this title written in age of Jim Crow to be a ridiculous defense of segregation below the Mason-Dixon Line. To my surprise, the book is something quite different: a study of how the experience of slavery and the loss of the Civil War had caused a rigid, defensive mindset for Southerners. The defense of all things antebellum had united Southerners, allowing no room for dissenting views. Anything that diverg ...more
Shawn
This still tops my list of "Books that cause fights."
Mommalibrarian
This book was written in 1940, before the mechanical cotton picker and the second World War, as the Depression drug on for most people. The writer of the foreword warns quite explicitely that the book only considers the point of view of white men. If you are interested in that point of view and can wall off your concerns about what women or people of color (euphemism) thought and felt, then you may find this an interesting read. There are traits that most people associate with the South and Sout ...more
Leah
Jul 26, 2015 Leah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I'm a Yankee born and bred who has forebears who fought on the Union side of the Civil War. I've lived in Atlanta for the past 18 years, and was spurred to read this in part because of the demonstrably wrong things that people have been saying about the Civil War, particularly in light of the removal of the Battle flag from the South Carolina capital building. The same Lost Cause arguments were probably being made at the point that the Georgia flag was changed, but they didn't make the same impa ...more
J.P.
Nov 26, 2014 J.P. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book won't blow you away but it is very informative as it makes clear the mentality of the south, specifically the mentality of white southerners. It details the culture & climate in its beginning before the Civil War & goes through how it grew up through the Civil Rights movement. An atmosphere of leisure & how that contributed to ignorance & fear is given much detail. Cash describes the obstinacy that resulted from that & how it intensified in the face of everyone & ...more
Jeff
Feb 23, 2016 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southern-lit
This review is from my blog:

W. J. Cash, The Mind of the South (1941, reprint New York: Vintage Books, 1991)

In the introduction to the 50th Anniversary reprint of this book, Bertram Wyatt-Brown compares Cashâs writing to that of a southern lawyer addressing the jury. If thatâs the case, Iâm sure most of the jury would vote to hang his defendant on sheer principle. This is a long and wordy book. It often repeats itself. Furthermore, it doesnât come to any great conclusion. At the end, I found mys
...more
Jonathan
This is one weird book-length essay, but its central point is clear enough and well put. Cash (publishing originally in 1941) argues that the mindset of the American South is both newer and older than commonly thought.

It is true, Cash writes, that the South is a bit foreign -- "not quite a nation within a nation, but the next thing to it" (viii). There is a South, and it is culturally unique within the United States. However, its culture does not go back as far in time as the Cavalier myth of th
...more
Reed Peeples
Dec 02, 2013 Reed Peeples rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm annoyed at myself for not reading The Mind of the South when I first heard of it eight years ago. I'm more annoyed at my professors for letting a me graduate from a college in the deep south without understanding the ideas Cash outlines. I was familiar with many of the broad ideas - the myth of the Lost Cause, a southern aristocracy, and so forth - but what I did not grasp was how these notions actually affected and shaped the psyche of individual Southerners. Many of the Southerners I've kn ...more
Hilary
Jul 12, 2013 Hilary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
W.J. Cash's book published in 1941 before WWII is a work of scholarship exploring the white Southerner's mindset regarding the Civil War (War Between the States?), the lost cause, slavery, reconstruction, states' rights, racism, indentured servants, sharecroppers, politics, education and religion. He discusses Appalachia, the fall of the mill town industry and why poor, white (non-slave owners) aligned themselves with the plantation/landed gentry (slave owners). It's a compelling sociological an ...more
Brittney Martinez
An extremely comprehensive look at how Southern literature is influenced by its geography, it's no wonder why "The Mind of the South" is highly recommended even 60 years after its publication. Cash's writing makes this a fun read, but do expect it to be more on the academic side. It's extremely lengthy, but worth it if you're interested in Southern literature.
Richard Epstein
May 04, 2015 Richard Epstein rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One has an powerful fondness for the books one was assigned and read when one was completely unschooled in the subject. First cut is the deepest, I guess. And by "one," I mean me.
Robert
Oct 06, 2010 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is a great deal here that presciently describes the present 2010 state of mind of "tea party nation," extending beyond the physical scope of "the South," as characterized in Cash's book. On the other hand, defenders notwithstanding, I felt that I found a decidedly racist slant to the author's work. I think it's an important read for anyone living in or interested in the culture of the south, but in spite of its application to the society of 2010, the book does not escape being solidly moor ...more
Isadora Wagner
I've been reading increasingly in New Southern studies, and picked up this book to try to get a handle on its foundations: the "Old South" systems of romanticism, religion and racism that supported slavery and the South's role in the Civil War. Cash is a fascinating read whose tone (by turns coaxing, cajoling, velvet, railing and rhetorical) is a delightful aid in significantly unpacking the many nuances, contradictions and myths of what it means to come from a particular (white male) viewpoint ...more
Shonda Wilson
Sep 11, 2013 Shonda Wilson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-academic
This book discusses the "mind" of the Southern from the Old South to the author's current time in 1939 and while he paints the southerner as lost in a fantasy... the author himself has a fantastical idea of what a Southerner is, he creates tons of excuses as to why Southerners behaved the way they did (often pointing towards African Americans and "Yankees") and presents a view of the south on a very limited scope...mostly concerning white males.

While the book is written well and does make some v
...more
Bill
May 14, 2015 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little too over kill on the basic points of view being exspoused!!
Wendolyn
May 19, 2016 Wendolyn marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wendolyn by: Nelle Harper & Alice Lee
Mentioned in The Mockingbird Next Door
Rob
Apr 11, 2016 Rob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read as part of college curriculum.
Bill Laine
Aug 12, 2009 Bill Laine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cash writes about cultural and economic events in the South and in the world that form the Southern Culture that is still visible today. Starting through the civil war and going up to the 40s, when the book was written, there are some great insights into the Southern way of thinking. The book is long, Cash writes vividly. There are some clinkers, on race, say, or women. If you push through for the big picture, though, there are things to be learned here. I enjoyed it and I am a little smarter ab ...more
Debby
Aug 26, 2009 Debby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this is a wonderful book for Southerners and "carpetbaggers" who want to understand how the South as it is came to be. I find it a little harsh towards the South in some respect, but I don't mind so much because it was written by a Southerner. I can understand his point of view after listening to story after story of the Confederacy from his grandfather while growing up in the economic and social chaos resulting from the Civil War.
Rob
Mar 21, 2014 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Large sections of this book are beautifully written, and brutally honest.
Martha Johnson
Dec 20, 2013 Martha Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating. Early part of the book better -- the 1800's. Obviously a work that is dated but it captures some terrific perspectives. The role of women in the south -- their image, the symbols they represented. The cotton mills; the labor movement that wasn't; the role of education in the 1800's particularly was important to grasp.
A.
This has gotten bumped up the to-read list because it's due back at the library before anything else. I'm currently in the middle of so many books, it's not even funny.

ETA: Didn't get through this before it had to go back to the library. I'll try again this summer.
Amy
Longer sentences than even Kendrick Curtis himself. Very valuable book and strangely, provided me with insight into my relationship with my Mom.
Shaila
Sep 10, 2013 Shaila rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written in 1941, a classic and instructive to how the Southern mind thinks. Presumably some things have changed since 1941, but not everything. This becomes evident in various parts of the book. A prerequisite to reading the new book "The New Mind of the South".
Sean Chick
While intriguing, the books seems more like an extended rant on how the South has no mind at all. He also ignores the Civil War. Still, this is a book worth knowing if you enjoy Southern history.
John
Sep 28, 2009 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating book that speaks more of the author's and contemporaries' frame of mind than the perspectives of his ostensible subjects, i.e. his forebears.
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