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Freedom Summer: The Savage Season of 1964 That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy

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4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  980 Ratings  ·  199 Reviews
A riveting account of one of the most remarkable episodes in American history.
In his critically acclaimed history "Freedom Summer," award- winning author Bruce Watson presents powerful testimony about a crucial episode in the American civil rights movement. During the sweltering summer of 1964, more than seven hundred American college students descended upon segregated,
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ebook, 384 pages
Published June 1st 2010 by Penguin Books (first published May 26th 2010)
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Summer of 1964, I was sitting in my diapers, sniffing the Topanga Canyon breezes and watching the snakes and tarantulas go by, so I think I can be forgiven for not knowing what was going on in Mississippi. If you've seen the 1988 film Mississippi Burning, you know about the three young men, two white and one black, who disappeared on the first night of Freedom Summer. This book tells the rest of the story.

Hundreds of brave and idealistic college-age kids left their safe white enclaves all over
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Philip
At book club, a friend of mine told a story. He's a teacher, and he works in a very diverse school. He's white, but he's very sensitive to the racial dynamics currently at play in The United States. Trayvon Martin. Michael Brown. Eric Garner.

He asked a colleague of his - a black teacher - born in Mississippi in the early 60s what she thought about what's happening.

He said, "Do you feel like, 'Oh no. Here we go again.'"

Her response was, "Not, 'here we go again,' more like 'will it ever end?'"

It's
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Susan
Dec 10, 2010 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember the summer of 1964 very well--I watched most of it on the TV evening news where I gathered with fellow Peace Corps trainees in the evenings at Indiana University (and for two weeks at Indiana State in Terra Haute). We had classes all day: history of Africa and Sierra Leone, public health lectures, phys ed, Krio language, etc. etc. It was really like going to summer school except that we all lived together in Quonset huts left over from WWII and stuck together because we never had a fr ...more
Morgan Oats
Freedom Summer: The Savage Season of 1964 That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy, or Freedom Summer, is a nonfiction history written in 2010 by the journalist Bruce Watson. The events that take place within Freedom Summer revolve around the civil rights movement fostered by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC (“pronounced 'Snick'”), that occurred in the summer of 1964 across Mississippi. Facts, quotes, and events recorded by Watson are derived from other histo ...more
McMaeve
Oct 19, 2011 McMaeve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Usually a history book is NOT what I would pick up, but after trying civil disobedience this summer, and finding parallels with the civil rights era, I wanted to learn more. I found this book riveting, as well as thoroughly well-researched and peppered with quotes and primary sources. I was struck by the sacrifices that SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) volunteers made - Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney with their lives. I read this with a curiosity about what drives movements. What ...more
Kate
Jun 06, 2014 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was an eye-opener. I was vaguely aware that the South, during the Jim Crow era, was a festering hellhole; but I was shocked by the degree of brutality described in this book. But while I was nauseated by the descriptions of racial hatred and violence, I was left in awe of the individuals who, at great peril to their lives, traveled to Mississippi to advance the cause of civil rights for Black Americans. This is the kind of book that makes you want to be a better person.
Larry
Mar 16, 2013 Larry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Despite having already read a number of books about the degradations that the South, and Mississippi in particular, have inflicted upon the blacks after the Civil War, I was terribly moved by this book. In essence, this book is about the summer of 1964 in which great efforts were made to allow the blacks of Mississippi to have the same rights of citizenship that white people enjoyed. Rights that one would have thought they had obtained after being freed as slaves a century earlier. I could talk ...more
Bailey
Jun 22, 2012 Bailey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ask just about anyone on the street about the Civil Rights Movement, and you'll get the same answer from probably everyone, the same names will be dropped. JFK, King, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X... It's a short list, and an incredibly incomplete one. Bruce Watson introduces the reader to hundreds of heroes we've never met; volunteers working in Mississippi in the summer of 1964, alongside Fannie Lou Hamer, Bob Moses, Stokely Carmichael and other names who really should be in our consciousness. Names l ...more
Susan
Jun 10, 2011 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Freedom Summer tells the story of Mississippi during the summer of 1964 when hundreds of college students from across the US traveled to Mississippi to open Freedom Schools, run voter registration drives and education, and support African Americans stepping into County Courthouses to register to vote. It was a summer of terror for all, for African Americans standing watch with rifles and shotguns to the young students whom they were protecting. White Mississippians were terrified of the changes ...more
Tony Hynes
Nov 25, 2015 Tony Hynes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sit ins, voting registration drives, literacy programs, the changing of the guard in a long fought Civil Rights Movement, all came to a head in the summer of 1964. Bruce Watson does a wonderful job documenting it, and the violence that came along with that change, at length. This is the summer in which Martin Luther King, John Lewis, Fannie Lou Hamer and other Civil Rights activists began to buy in to the tactics of a younger generation that was tired of waiting for Civil Rights Laws to just "ha ...more
Sara
Aug 21, 2013 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just an incredible social history of SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) and Mississippi, in particular the summer of 1964, when hundreds of college students, black and white, went into the very dangerous small towns of that state to register voters. They also opened "Freedom" schools that offered the prisoners (yep, I said it) of that racist society a different way to view themselves, the country and the world.

The (in)famous murder of three of those civil-rights workers, Michael S
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Emmkay
In the summer of 1964, 700 young people from around the United States travelled to Mississippi for "Freedom Summer," joining local volunteers to build and staff "Freedom Schools" for black children, engage in a voter registration drive, and form a parallel delegation of "Freedom Democrats" to send to the Democratic National Convention.

Watson's history of that summer is based on a wide variety of primary and secondary sources, including interviews with participants (particularly white college st
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Chris Young
Jul 11, 2014 Chris Young rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book fascinating. I was 3 years old when all of this happened. I have read many books and seen many movies about this time. The brutality wasn't what I would call shocking as there is so much documentation of it. Two things that did surprise me was the volunteers, who they became. Barney Frank comes to mind. I had no idea he was that deeply involved, I always assumed he was another loud mouthed politician. He actually did something. Even more shocking was the discovery that until th ...more
Robert
Aug 17, 2010 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-us
This is a soul-stirring book - narrative history at its best. Watson gives a detailed, comprehensive account of the 1964 Freedom project in Mississippi - the year when suffering Civil Rights activists, desperate to attract attention to their struggle, invited idealistic northern college students to spend their summer working in this Deep South state, violent, Klan-ridden - to live there with the poorest of the poor, registering voters, teaching in Freedom schools, and, by risking their lives, by ...more
Sunday Cummins
Riveting. I didn't want to put it down. Watson has created a gripping narrative that takes you deep into Mississippi and the psyche of players on all sides of the Freedom Summer movement. When you name civil rights activists, in the same breath as "Dr. King," please remember to also name Bob Moses, Fannie Lou Hamer, Stoakley Carmichael, Andrew Goodman, Michael and Rita Schwerner, James Chaney, Muriel Tillinghast, Fred Winn, Fran O'Brien and Chris Williams and the hundreds of others involved in t ...more
David
Aug 15, 2011 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is difficult to find words to adequately praise this finely written and thoroughly researched book. The summer of 1964 changed Mississippi and America forever. A small army of college students went to the state that was the bastion of white racism. Mississippi was a hard nut to crack, but these brave young people cracked it. This book reads like a virtual who's who in the Civil Rights Movement: Robert Moses, Barney Frank, John Lewis, Martin Luther King, Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer, Stokeley Carmich ...more
Chris Aylott
Nov 29, 2010 Chris Aylott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Bruce Watson's journalism back in Northampton, and thought this would be an interesting look at an event I don't know enough about. Wow. Watson digs into history the way I like to see it, taking his time to trace the roots of the conflict, then following relatively ordinary people through big events and their consequences. He brings the Mississippi of 1964 back to life, and it is a terrifying place -- even more so when you see the similarities between the reactionary hatred of then and ...more
Sue
Mar 02, 2014 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A tremendous book about our history that many don't know anything about. It should be apart of every American history course. These young people and Mississippi blacks were so courageous during a time when no one, and I mean no one was paying attention to their safety or freedom. Jim Crow was alive and well. People were starving, mistreated, beaten, hanged, and plenty of other disgusting things for minor infractions of the law or trumpeted up reasons. Prejudiced ruled. This summer project brough ...more
Nancy
Aug 23, 2010 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author made me feel the fear, hope, joy, despair, and all the other emotions blacks and whites must have felt that summer. It brought me to tears numerous times. Barney Frank was one of the volunteers (though not much about him in the book), which I had not known. Made me want to know more about that summer, and am on waiting list for book containing the letters home from the volunteers. We've all come a long way but there's still a long way to go.....
Morgan Gjerde
Oct 21, 2016 Morgan Gjerde rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Freedom Summer by Bruce Watson was a great non-fictional piece of writing that encompassed the struggles and triumphs of Freedom Summer workers during the heart of the civil rights movement. In the beginning, Watson described the training of the freedom summer workers, and told the horror stories volunteers faced. Bob Moses, a current volunteer, lectured the new volunteers about what they would face as they entered a long hot summer in Mississippi. Moses told of his experiences in Mississippi, ...more
Brittany Hegstad
Bruce Watson’s Freedom Summer gives a detailed account of what went down in Mississippi in 1964. College students from around the country traveled to this state and worked closely with SNCC, CORE, and poor black citizens living in the towns in effort to change the horrific disadvantages that blacks faced in society. The book begins by describing the intense preparation and training required of staffers and volunteers. Students unaware of the violence that they would soon face arrived in Mississ ...more
Mae Hardie
Oct 23, 2016 Mae Hardie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Freedom Summer, an eye opening experience, written by Bruce Watson was a well written book with rhetoric and informational text. The beginning of the nonfiction novel started with the birth of the Freedom Summer ideal. Pages 27-30 refers to Moses, a founder of the Freedom Summer project, “Moses had set up voter registration classes in the backwoods hill country of southwest Mississippi” and from there on the attempt to register blacks flourished. Equal rights activists came crawling out from man ...more
Elena
Apr 29, 2012 Elena rated it really liked it
This was a really interesting book! I read it for a history class, but I still really enjoyed it! Learning about Freedom Summer puts movements such as Occupy Wall Street into a larger context. This book is inspiring for any young people who want to work to create social change!
Kayla Jensen
Summary:
In the novel Freedom Summer, Bruce Watson vividly retells the story of the summer of 1964 and how it came to be major event in the height of the civil rights movement in the United States. Watson recreates the feel of the terrible yet rewarding summer with its impressive outcome on society. At the beginning of the book the SNCC is starting to assemble numerous amounts of white college students to go down to Mississippi and foster civil rights movements and equality for people. The membe
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Sonia
Jul 05, 2010 Sonia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredible- one of the best books I've read in a long time.
Lori White
Jun 26, 2010 Lori White marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
CANNOT WAIT TO READ THIS OMG
bri
Jan 08, 2011 bri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow! I feel downright un-american for being so ignorant about the civil rights movement.
Natalie Peterson
The book Freedom summer, by Bruce Watson, is an informative read of the dangerous summer of 1964. More than seven hundred college students traveled to Mississippi in hopes of registering some of the first black voters and educate black children. These students were often not the people you would expect, they were privileged young white college students who did not face predjust. However, they felt strongly about this cause and were willing to fight for it. Many even had to give up their families ...more
Lauren Andersen
In the book Freedom Summer by Bruce Watson, a powerful story is told among the blacks in Mississippi when whites travel down to help them gain the right to vote. Both black and white volunteers from the North met upon an Ohio State college campus to prepare for the long journey of the summer ahead (pg 34). Initially, the whites figured that all the blacks were itching to be able to gain the right to vote. This was not the case. The Freedom workers began to go house to house to give information o ...more
Brooke Cooper
Oct 22, 2016 Brooke Cooper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The book Freedom Summer, by Bruce Watson, focuses on volunteers going down to Mississippi to try and register African Americans to vote. They all go through the same type of experience but some more traumatic than others. Throughout the book Bruce Watson focuses on three volunteers who had disappeared and were searched for during most of the book. Volunteers and SNCC’s gained new relationships and learned things about themselves, America and who they wanted to be. The summer left many of the vol
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Freedom Summer 1 4 Nov 25, 2015 01:56PM  
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Bruce Watson is the author of "Light: A Radiant History from Creation to the Quantum Age" (Bloomsbury, Feb. 2016). Starting with creation stories and following the trail of luminescence through three millennia, "Light" explores how humanity has worshiped, captured, studied, painted, and finally controlled light. The book's cast of characters includes Plato, Ptolemy, Alhacen, Dante, Leonardo, Rembr ...more
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“The volunteers merely dropped in for a summer, then went home to question America. Some would spearhead the events that defined the 1960s—the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, the antiwar movement, the women’s movement. Others, spreading ideals absorbed in Mississippi, would be forever skeptical of authority, forever democrats with a small d, and forever touched by this single season of their youth. But first, they had to survive Freedom Summer.” 1 likes
“nothing trite in SNCC’s founding statement: “Through nonviolence, courage displaces fear; love transforms hate. Acceptance dissipates prejudice, hope ends despair. Peace dominates war, faith reconciles doubt.” 0 likes
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