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There Goes My Everything: White Southerners in the Age of Civil Rights, 1945-1975
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There Goes My Everything: White Southerners in the Age of Civil Rights, 1945-1975

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  131 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
While the landmarks of the civil rights movement have become indelible parts of our collective memory, few have written about what life was like for white southerners who lived through that historic time. Now, in his brilliant debut book, historian Jason Sokol explores the untold stories of ordinary people experiencing the tumultuous decades that forever altered the Americ ...more
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published August 22nd 2006 by Knopf (first published 2006)
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Jan 10, 2012 Kim rated it really liked it
I was a little wary of this book, because "white studies" can sometimes be code for, let's say, unsavory things. But this book is far from that. It's slightly sympathetic to the fact that the Civil Rights Movement changed life drastically for *everyone* in the South, both black and white, but it's not sympathetic to racist beliefs. It's not condescending to them, either- most images we have of white people during the Civil Rights Movement is that they were deluded or violently against civil righ ...more
Debbie Howell
Jan 12, 2008 Debbie Howell rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history lovers, Southerners
Well-researched, well-written book about the impact of the Civil Rights movement on white Southerners. Encompasses post-WWII through the 1970s. At the height of the Civil Rights movement, I was an elementary-school-age kid in the South, aware of big events in the news and their occasional impact on my life. For instance, my first-grade teacher in Alabama warning us kids not to go to Selma because bad things were happening there, and as a 10-year-old in Memphis our Easter clothes shopping trip be ...more
Jun 26, 2014 Jo-Ann rated it it was amazing
This book provided me with tremendous insight into aspects of the Civil Rights movement that, as a Canadian and as peripherally informed on the struggle in the South, I did not understand. Like most people I find the treatment of African Americans in that time to be disturbing and repugnant. I will not say that my country is exempt from systemically racist behaviour; we have our own troubled history. I think the message that I've gotten from this volume is how deep feelings run when we perceive ...more
Jessica Leight
Jan 29, 2015 Jessica Leight rated it liked it
This book had a great deal to offer but suffered a bit in the delivery. The structure was oddly frustrating. First, the chapters seemed very long and not particularly focused; it was not always obvious what differentiated one from the other. Second, at times the book seemed like a very lengthy string of interesting anecdotes or historical vignettes. Third, some of these vignettes were repeated. A better book would have been more streamlined and more clearly subdivided; still, the author is undou ...more
May 27, 2011 Lauren rated it liked it
In the sections where this book hits its stride, it’s an ambitious and brilliant peek into the complexities of being a white southerner during the civil rights movement. The book’s biggest strength is Dr. Sokol’s ability to delve into this topic and neither apologize for nor demonize white southerners. Instead he works to understand them and put their struggles into context (and largely succeeds). That said, the book’s wildly inconsistent in writing and organization, and even, at times, research ...more
Charles Matthews
Dec 18, 2009 Charles Matthews rated it really liked it
The story of the civil rights movement is often told from the point of view of the courageous African-American men and women who rose up against Jim Crow and wiped out de jure discrimination. But in There Goes My Everything, the young historian Jason Sokol looks at the struggle from the point of view of white Southerners. He explores what he calls “the ambiguous contours of change,” the way the near-monolithic opposition to desegregation and racial equality was pulverized over the course of thre ...more
David Lucander
This ambitious book is the Civil Rights-era equivalent to Edgerton's book on the Roosevelt era, "Speak Now Against the Day." The two texts share many qualities. Sokol's book reads like an encyclopedic and authoritative tome. As such, it can be a little repetitive. Like Edgerton, and all good historians, Sokol also points towards exciting new fields of study. The reactions of common whites are so often overlooked in studies of the Movement, and it's something my students often want to know more a ...more
Cheryl Kuhl-paine
Feb 13, 2014 Cheryl Kuhl-paine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, race
As a white woman raised in Kentucky during the 80s and 90s, there were a lot of omissions and straight up lies in my education concerning race and the Civil Rights Movement. This book is excellent for explaining where those ideas came from, and why the adults in my life --people I admired and sometimes loved, and who had taken on the responsibility of raising and/or teaching me-- were comfortable teaching me those ideas.

This is a history book but it's also making an argument. It's not a school h
Jul 14, 2008 Paula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit repetitive, but it is useful to learn as a non-Southerner living in the South what desegregation was like from a white Southerner point of view just a mere 20-30 years ago. It is just long enough ago to be able to be dealt with but near enough in time so that it is not forgotten. It is very specific as to time and place of events so I feel more enlightened as I drive around.
Brad Hayes
Oct 21, 2012 Brad Hayes rated it really liked it
Fine piece of scholarship and well written. Much of the work focuses on white Southerners who struggled with changes brought on by the Civil Rights movement, but the book offers brief glimpses of Southern whites who embraced those changes. The latter group deserves further treatment, and I'd be eager to read the author's views on the subject in future works.
Feb 26, 2008 Jennie rated it really liked it
Very interesting perspective on the civil rights era in the South. It's a bit repetitive, but it reads clearly, and I really appreciated the insight. I feel I have a better understanding of the point of view that was resistant to change. I definitely recommend it.

And, as a proofreader, I must say that it's very clean; only a few errors.
Excellent!!! would like to hear from reader who also read "A Stone of Hope" and how they compare
Jun 28, 2008 Mdm rated it really liked it
Solid reporting on underreported stories of integration, often from the "white southerner" perspective. In depth on school integration cases from the 70s. Glossing of all the major achievements of the Civil Rights movement that are covered elsewhere. A great thesis for a book, well executed.
Kathryn Bundy
Jan 20, 2016 Kathryn Bundy rated it really liked it
This book represents the viewpoint of white southerners, as the title says. It's not limited though, because many points of view shine through. Living as a transplant to the south for nearly 30 years now, I found this an interesting take on life before I got here.
Aug 14, 2007 Nina rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing. Many of the stories moved me to tears. Helped me to understand what it was like for white southerners to live through the civil rights years, and why different people reacted in different ways. The times were revolutionary, and so is this book.
Daniel Burton-Rose
Sep 09, 2011 Daniel Burton-Rose rated it it was amazing
Sensitive treatment of a previously ignored topic.
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“I know a few Negroes I respect and admire, for they got what they wanted by working for it.” But most blacks were not quite so good, Ledford asserted. “I’ve lost my respect for them, except the few I told you about because they want to force themselves on us…. Why doesn’t the Negro leave us alone and mind his own business and quit thinking he’s too good for our laws.” The laws Ledford referred to were the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.” 0 likes
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