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 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  83 ratings  ·  14 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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Debbie Howell
Jan 12, 2008 Debbie Howell rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
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
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
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
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...more
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Sensitive treatment of a previously ignored topic.
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There Goes My Everything: White Southerners in the Age of Civil Rights, 1945-1975

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