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The State of Jones

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  429 ratings  ·  122 reviews
New York Times bestselling author Sally Jenkins and distinguished Harvard professor John Stauffer mine a nearly forgotten piece of Civil War history and strike gold in this surprising account of the only Southern county to secede from the Confederacy.

The State of Jones is a true story about the South during the Civil War—the real South. Not the South that has been mytholog
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published June 23rd 2009 by Doubleday (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

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This and interesting story of southern unionists and confederate deserters. Although the story focuses on Newt Knight, it really talks in general about the life of poor farmers who were opposed to the confederacy during the civil war and afterward. Its appalling the conditions people were expected to life and fight under. Particularly Mississippi after the war was horrific. An interesting read, but the book was slow at times.
I didn't know about the controversy surrounding this book when I checked it out of the library. It's entertaining; just hard to believe. The authors lost credibility with me when, in describing the Piney Woods of south Mississippi they spoke of "red deer" (what happened to the white-tails?), and pine trees "shooting up nearly 60 feet high" (what happened to all the pines over 100 feet?). Then there was their description of Mobile, Alabama on the "shimmering azure of the Gulf." Have the authors n ...more
If you like Southern history, especially the Civil War era, this drawn out account might be a good bet for you. I won't rehash the plot. The premise, a white man "married" to an African-American lady, in race-torn Mississippi during the reign of Jim Crow is an intriguing one. Newton Knight is a strong character with a definite worldview on things. Some of the material, like Grant's gritty siege of Vicksburg, is familiar ground to us Civil War buffs. From what I can tell, the title is well-resear ...more
I am assigning the prologue and first chapter to my students this semester. I wanted a book that talked about the war and the conditions of war without focusing on military history in a battle-tastic way. There is a compelling narrative here, well written, straight-forward without being boring. The book does a great job presenting the class differences of the South, which sometimes gets lost in the discussion.
Mickie Benson
This is a fascinating book about the Civil War, and a man in the deep south who, after being drafted to fight for the South, joins the North to preserve the Union. It is a true story, and his life and family had far reaching effects in the years that follow.
Bob Costello
Listened to recording. Very interest history of Mississippi during and the 20 years after the civil war. The write up on the cover is misleading when it says the Jones county seceded for the Confederacy. In the middle of the war Jones county was the center of Confederate deserters who were pro-union. They were able for a short time make Confederate civil authorities flee the county. The sadist part of the story was the rise of the clan and the suppression of the blacks in the 1870s, as former le ...more
Stephanie Pounds
In the middle of the Civil War, after participating as a Southern soldier in two losing battles, Newton Knight left the Confederate Army and returned to his home in Jones County, Mississippi. A few months later he was leading a group of over 150 men in open rebellion against the Confederacy. I enjoyed listening to this book. It dealt with a part of history that I didn't know about, and in fact, had never really thought about. What happened to American loyalists in the South after secession? The ...more
Steven Peterson
This is one of the more intriguing tales of the Civil War. In Jones County, Mississippi, we see a movement by residents to steer clear of the South. Yes, in Mississippi--at the heart of the Confederate States of America and home of Jefferson Davis' plantation. This breakaway region fought against and gave heartburn to the Confederacy.

The book focuses on the character of Newton Knight. He began the war drafted into the southern force. He fought at the bloody battle in Corinth, where a harebrained
Michael T.
Here's a book to confound your sense of the Civil War era deep south as "unified, racist & Confederate". Dirt farmer Newton Knight was none of these things. A lifelong resident of rural Jones County, Mississippi, Knight was morally opposed to slavery, and an avowed Unionist. He resented, naturally, being conscripted into a Confederacy which did not represent him nor his interests, nor the interests of the poor people with whom he lived. And he was far from alone. Knight and his fellow insurr ...more
Jul 13, 2009 Joan added it
There is a part of the history of the American Civil War that is not very well-known, that is rarely taught in the schools. It is the story of southerners who believed in the Union, who not only refused to fight for the Confederacy, but actively fought against it. Some did so by joining the Union forces, others did so by engaging in guerrilla warfare. The rural county of Jones in Mississippi was a stronghold of men who opposed secession. Some were staunch Unionists. Some were anti-slavery. Some ...more
The authors missed so many basic facts, that I found myself wondering how much I could believe. For example: they described the muskets as weighing 18 lbs! (maybe two muskets might weigh that) On another page, they described the sound of musket hammers falling on gunpowder. On the standard muskets used by both sides, the hammers fell on percussion caps producing a sharp snap, not the pfft they claimed.

I finally gave up when Knight (maybe) kills McLemore, and the authors claimed the others in t
I heard the authors on NPR and thought that the story sound intriguing. I knew nothing about the particulars of the story of Newton Knight and his fellow countians/Mississippians who fought in Mississippi to preserve the Union. It really is a story of the poor yeoman farmer in the South who had little in common with the upper elite of the Confederate army who ultimately came to the conclusion that the Southern motive were not worth fighting and dying for. The story centers on Newton and his fami ...more
There are so many books about the Civil War that I'm surprised to find one that is totally unique. This is the story of the Unionists who fought on the side of the Union even though they were deep in Confederate territory and formed independently of the Union Army. It is also the story of Newton Knight who was a member of the Jones County Unionists and also a white man who "married" an African American woman and raised a family, who he acknowledged as his own, with her. Sadly it also points out ...more
Bob H
An extraordinary story of resistance to the Confederacy, both during and after the Civil War. I've read, and researched, considerable Civil War history and find that the authors have been meticulous in their research. Certainly the War Department's Official Records kept enough angry Confederate reports of a loyal Unionist revolt in southeastern Mississippi, but there's signs that their research went much further.

Indeed, the story puts the revolt in the greater context - many of the Jones County
The State of Jones is a great book based on the Civil War contributions of Newton Knight and his band of men that ditched the Confederate Civil War effort in a small Mississippi county. Jenkins and Stauffer show how a country man changed the course of the Civil War and racial relations in the postbellum years and into the mid-20th century. This book tells an amazing story and is written in such a way that it is almost like a novel and not a history book.
Oct 20, 2009 Pat rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: history
Mississippi before, during and after the Civil War. There were Unionists who didn't agree with secession. They lived primarily in Jones County, and the leader was Newton Knight. What a wonderful book about how the Confederacy treated not just blacks, but poor farmers who made up the majority of the troops, and about how those downtrodden folks maintained their dignity and strength to build lives in a nondemocratic state.
This book chronicles a civil war inside the Civil War. From 1863 to 1865, most of the southeastern part of Mississippi was opposed to the Confederacy and the then government of the state. Attempts by the Confederate Army to restore control were disastrous defeats for that army. Most of this rebellion was centered in the area of Jones County, which contains the city of Laurel, and thus the name.
Tom Darrow
Good story. Does a good job at showing how the south was not united as one in their fight against the north. Class divisions were pretty extreme and caused many lower class people to give up the fight or, in the case of Jones County, try to join the other side. Does a good job at showing the nature of backcountry fighting and how the home guard units operated in the south.
Edward Sullivan
A fascinating, largely unknown piece of Civil War history. There were a considerable number of anti-slavery, pro-Unionists living in southern Mississippi, some of whom took part in guerilla warfare against Conferderate forces. The authors sometimes rely too much upon conjecture and speculation, but the book appears to be well-researched and quite interesting.
Well researched and very interesting for the most part. Great book on Southern Unionism and the story of Newton Knight, a forced Confederate conscript who deserts and flees into the swamps of Mississippi. He forms a band of like minded deserters and Unionists and wages a guerrilla war on the Confederacy. The real value of the book is its descriptions of farm life during the war.

The book-flap/Goodreads blurb is misleading. Several attempts were made, Jones County never seceded from the Confedera
Mike Noel
An incredible story of an anti-slavery, Unionist Southerner who deserted the Confederate Army to protect himself and his friends and family from a rich man's war. Newton Knight is one of the great heroes in American history that you will probably never hear of.
Jim Blessing
I have read numerous civil war books, but this tale was unfamilar to me. It involves a county in Mississippi that seceded from the Confederacy during the war, due to the horrible treatment of yeoman farmers by the aristocratic farmers. It's a great story!
Dale Kurtz
WOW ... Once again the story of the Civil War and the years following, this time in Mississippi. This is non fiction. Newton Knight opposed the Civil War and Slavery as did most people in Jones County. But he was forced to enter the Southern army and fought at Corinth then deserted but was caught and force back into the army to fight at Vicksburg. After Vicksburg fell he went home to Jones County and fought against the South. He raised two families, one by a white woman and one by a black woman. ...more
The context was really interesting, although I thought the way the story was told made it less compelling. I think it would have been more interesting if it had focused on its core subject - the situation of the "regular" folks in the south, as opposed to the plantation/slave owners, their attitudes toward secession, their treatment during the war, and so forth. I got a bit bored by what I saw as digressions into long discussions of specific battles during the war.

The other plot line was similar
"The State of Jones" by Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer is about The Civil War in Jones County, Mississippi. In particular, it describes one of the less well known aspects, that the Confederacy faced a guerilla war as desperate and brutal as the better known guerrilla war faced by the Union.

"The State of Jones" describes how the Jones County community descended into the Civil War. And how existing tensions in addition to those caused by Secession and War caused intra-communal strife.

Generally t
Jun 18, 2014 Paul added it
With each page, you get transported to events that are amazing to comprehend. What does one do in the 1860's if one sympathizes with the North, but is trapped in the South? Less courageous men would probably "Go With The Flow" and just try and survive...try to remain as invisible and as inactive as possible in the southern ranks and wait out the Civil War as a reluctant conscriptee. Newton Knight started to do just that, but then decided guerilla war against the South was a better idea. Talk abo ...more
Sep 01, 2009 Stacie marked it as to-read
Saw the author on the Daily Show. This sounds really interesting.
Perry Hall
This book recounts the fascinating story of the insurrection against the Confederate States of America led by Newton Knight and his band of Civil War guerillas residing in Jones County, Mississippi. The history leading up to the insurrection, like most such rebellions, is complex, but it relates in large part to a class conflict; Jones County was not a heavily agricultural county and many of its citizens said they didn't want to fight the plantation/slave owners' war for them. Knight was injured ...more
This is another entry in my unintentional American History series. I picked it up because the author (or, apparently, one of two) was on the Daily Show. A Union fighter from Mississippi sounded interesting. And it was.

So. I learned that there is an *awful lot* I don't know about the Civil War. Not that I ever thought I paid much attention to history, but it seems pretty clear that the storyline I was fed in grade school didn't really capture the complexities. (I didn't pay attention because I th
First time historical writer Jenkins, with an assist from Harvard history professor John Stauffer, tells the story of Southern Unionists in Jones County Mississippi who fought a guerrilla action against the Confederacy, in particular their leader Newton Knight. Knight was a deserter from the Confederate Army who believed in human equality far beyond even many Northern abolitionists. He knew owned a slave and had several children and grandchildren by one of his grandfather's. Not only that, he ac ...more
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