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The Strange Career of Jim Crow

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  1,797 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
C. Vann Woodward, who died in 1999 at the age of 91, was America's most eminent Southern historian, the winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Mary Chestnut's Civil War and a Bancroft Prize for The Origins of the New South. Now, to honor his long and truly distinguished career, Oxford is pleased to publish this special commemorative edition of Woodward's most influential work, The ...more
Paperback, 245 pages
Published 2002 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published February 1955)
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Thing Two

Did you know there was a period after the Civil War ended where blacks and whites lived together peacefully in the South? Yeah, I didn't, either. It wasn't until the early part of 20th century that the white population -- following the lead of their Northern countrymen -- began enacting laws to restrict the movement of the African American population.

This book was eye opening. It's short -- barely over two hundred pages -- and easy to read. It's well worth your time to peruse. It debu
Jan 07, 2012 Marley rated it it was amazing
Ack I wrote a long review of this and it promptly disappeared. OK, I'll make this one short.

The Strange Career of Jim Crow is a classic and a great introduction to Jim Crow. I imagine some readers will be surprised to learn the Jim Crow was born in the North and only moved to the South years later

Woodward begins his study with pre-war race relations then moves to Reconstruction, Redemption, and the repudiation of racial accommodation in the late 1800s which allowed Jim Crow and racial disenfran
Aug 04, 2014 Andrea rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, race
Brilliant for its time, and even for this time as I'd always believed Jim Crow started right after the pact that ended reconstruction when in fact it only really came into its own turn of the century...turn of this god damned century! It's crazy I didn't know that, or how it came into being, and this book was pivotal in reclaiming that recent history against those who see segregation as just the natural way of things.

Of course, being written in the heat of the civil rights movement it's one of t
Martin King
Aug 07, 2014 Martin King rated it it was ok
C Vann Woodward’s The Strange Career of Jim Crow was first published in 1955. The book was based on three James W. Richard lectures given by Woodward at the University of Virginia in 1954. He argued in those lectures that there was considerable economic and political interaction in the South between the races during reconstruction. In the 1957 paperback edition Woodward attempted to counter criticism that he had ignored the strength of racism that existed in the South prior to the codification o ...more
Apr 04, 2012 Liam rated it it was amazing
"[T]hings have not always been the same in the South. In a time when the Negroes formed a much larger proportion of the population than they did later, when slavery was a live memory in the minds of both races, and when the memory of the hardships and bitterness of Reconstruction was still fresh, the race policies accepted and pursued in the South were sometimes milder than they became later." (47)

"No real relief was in sight from the long cyclical depression of the 'nineties, an acute period of
Charlie Close
Jan 09, 2016 Charlie Close rated it it was amazing
I don't know why I'd never heard of this book until now. A fascinating and beautifully-written history of Jim Crow segregation in the South from the end of the Civil War to the early 1970s.

The most interesting part was what happened during the fifty years after the Civil War, when segregation as we know it did not yet exist and did not have to be invented. And yet it was. Why? Woodward offers an answer.
Steven Rapelje
Mar 14, 2014 Steven Rapelje rated it liked it
Shelves: completed
Engaging for the first five chapters and then takes a serious misstep in Chapter 6 (which was not a part of the original publishing in 1955). Chapter six, written in the early 1970s struggles to grasp the depths of the Black Power movement and even goes as far as to call Stokely Carmicael a racist.

The book does an effective job of articulating how Jim Crow was not a strictly Southern problem. He alleges that Jim Crow policies were birthed in the North; "Segregation in complete and fully develope
Apr 04, 2016 Joe rated it really liked it
Jane W. gave me a copy of Michele Alexander's book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010-2011) with strong recommendation to read without delay. Well, I wasn't so sure I could do a decent job of explaining what the "old" Jim Crow was all about; and since I had Woodward's book on my shelf, I figured I should read it first. It turned out that the copy I have is the 1957 Galaxy Book edition, which brings me right up to my early high school years in a small Texas G ...more
Joseph Stieb
May 01, 2015 Joseph Stieb rated it really liked it
I found this to be a thought-provoking little book about the Jim Crow Era and what Woodward calls the Second Reconstruction. Writing from the mid-1950's, Woodward is working within the post-Brown v Board but pre-Civil Rights Act period of major Southern resistance to the court-mandate overturning of Jim Crow. He starts by discussing the establishment of Jim Crow in the 1890's, showing how there were at least 3 other alternative frameworks of race relations that could have become dominant. The fi ...more
Nov 24, 2014 J.P. rated it really liked it
I read all but the last chapter of the book as I lost it unfortunately.

It's been 2 months since I read it but it was a very informative book. It shed light on the origins of Jim Crow, which oddly enough, come from the North. Despite the conflict of the Civil War & resentment of losing it, there was relative peace in the aftermath. There was still violence but less of it in comparison to coming years. The violence being minimized it seems had a lot to do with familiarity as master & slave
Robert Owen
May 01, 2014 Robert Owen rated it it was amazing
C. Vann Woodward’s “The Strange Career of Jim Crow” belongs near the top of the list of “the five books every white person should read about race”. Actually, it belongs near the top of the list of “the five books every American should read to understand nation’s history.”

Originally derived from a three lectures series delivered by Woodward in the mid-1950’s and, over the next decade and a half and expanded upon by the author to include chapters about Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s and the
Jul 31, 2016 Spencer rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, history
Though written in 1955 this is still a good concise history of Reconstruction and racism in the American south. Woodward starts with a view of Reconstruction that runs counter to the narrative we have heard for a hundred years.

He describes an era where newly freed slaves are transitioning into a political environment that welcomes them as they participate in the voting process. They register to vote, win elections, and take office locally and at the national level. They are becoming a part of t

Nov 18, 2015 Iain rated it really liked it
Martin Luther King Jr. in Montgomery, Alabama in 1965 called C. Vann Woodward's book 'The Strange Career of Jim Crow,' the "historical bible of the Civil Rights Movement." Published after a series of university lectures given by Woodward at the University of Virginia in 1955 and subsequently updated. The book dismisses the common notion that Jim Crow laws were in effect almost immediately after the Civil War, which was not the case. In the aftermath of Reconstruction there was a period of relati ...more
Feb 09, 2014 Jim rated it it was amazing
History is always way more complicated than I think it was.

There were a lot of things happening 150 years ago that impacted reconstruction after the Civil War.

While northerners were attempting to impress racial equality in the South, the North - while free - had seen a long history of segregation. French historian Alexis de Tocqueville wrote (pre-Civil War), "The prejudice of race appears to be stronger in the states that have abolished slavery than in those where it still exists; and nowhere
This book is a must-read for anyone wanting a better understanding of African-American history or the white South. Woodward, a native of Arkansas and a professor at Yale, was one of the last century's most perceptive and original historians of the South. I read his book The Burden of Southern History when I was in high school, and it was the first book I had ever encounter that gave me a framework I could accept for understanding where I grew up. This book (first published in 1955) describes how ...more
Jul 31, 2015 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An eye-opening, revolutionary book, and the story of Jim Crow is fascinating. The realities of racial mixture of the South is so often presented as a monolithic and entirely backwards physical and cultural region of our country; yet the ebb and flow of segregationist practices in light of federal and state policies is much more nuanced than the traditional narrative. For example, looking at the interplay of political and economic policies that at turns alienated and drew in support for Jim Crow, ...more
Feb 17, 2014 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's a newer addition of this book, but I was specifically interested in the 50s and 60s so I picked the 1971 3rd edition because it was available from my public library. This classic study traces the history of Jim Crow laws, beginning with the Civil War and moving to the present. I was surprised to learn that such laws were not enacted on a large scale until the turn of the 20th century. I had always thought they followed more closely the end of the Civil War. I was also surprised by the ex ...more
Leif Kurth
Aug 08, 2016 Leif Kurth rated it it was amazing
Yet another book that adds context to today's Civil Rights Movement. In light of historical tendencies, and un unwillingness of society to discuss, make amends, and move forward, we are exactly where we have led ourselves. Some day, hopefully sooner, we will figure out how to properly address our Nation's role in this conundrum and the People will see the future in a brighter light.

Woodward captured the essence of what Jim Crow represented, to all participants, willing and unwilling. He found nu
Sean Rosenthal
May 16, 2014 Sean Rosenthal rated it really liked it
Interesting Quotes:

"Among whites, especially in the cities west of the seaboard states, there was a great preponderance of men over women, always a phenomenon of rapid urban growth. Among blacks, on the other hand, there was a great preponderance of women over men, occasioned by the practice of selling off young males to the country. Among both races the shortage was always greatest among young adults. This situation helps to account for a considerable amount of cohabitation between white men an
Nov 30, 2015 Bsingleton2014 rated it it was amazing
The Strange Career of Jim Crow is an abbreviated history of the plight of the Negro in the post slavery south. The Strange Career of Jim Crow is an indeed enlightening book. The book highlights aspects of history in the south that were not massively explained to the general public. The Strange Career of Jim Crow does a fantastic job of painting a perfect picture of the institution of the antebellum south and its effect on the black population. The fact that the book goes so deep into detail is ...more
Oct 28, 2007 Bill rated it it was amazing
Another one of those mind-bending history books that makes you re-think American history.
Jim Malachowski
Apr 09, 2016 Jim Malachowski rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
In this must-read book, The Strange Career of Jim Crow, C. Vann Woodward describes the evolution, life, and death of the legal and social framework intended to reinforce and maintain segregation in the south from the Civil War to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 marking the end of the Jim Crow era. In this period, Woodward argues, there were two distinct reconstructions. One at the end of the Civil War that gave rise to Jim Crow and the other followin ...more
Annette Kikta
Jan 21, 2016 Annette Kikta rated it it was amazing
This is a great history of race relations in our country from the end of the Civil War to Johnson's passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. We are now experiencing a return to voter discrimination from the Supreme Court Ruling. Anyone wanting to understand the plight of the Negro American should read this book. My heart bleeds for the people who suffered under atrocities that were legal and I am further committed to ending all discrimination due to race, religion, sexual orientation or intelli ...more
Tom Darrow
Dec 25, 2015 Tom Darrow rated it it was amazing
C. Vann Woodward is regarded as being one of the leading historians of the 20th century, and this book demonstrates why. Originally published in 1955, about a year after the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, seeks to dispel some of the misconceptions that people had about the nature of segregation. He outlines his purpose in a very powerful quite in the preface where he says, "the twilight zone that lies between living memory and written mythology is one of the favorite breeding places of m ...more
Jan 30, 2016 Stephen rated it really liked it
Fifty years ago, racial and civil unrest swept the United States as organized resistance to the morally outrageous and legally dodgy practice of segregation strengthened throughout the country. Ten years before the Civil Rights movement hit its apogee, C. Van Woodward penned a history of segregation as public policy that offered grounds for hope. Far from being a natural and deeply rooted product of the South, Jim Crow laws were a relatively new creation. Dating in the South only to the late 19 ...more
Brian Anton
Oct 31, 2012 Brian Anton rated it really liked it
C. Vann Woodward’s The Strange Career of Jim Crow deals with the history of Jim Crow laws in the South after the Civil War beginning with Reconstruction and ending with the Civil Rights Movement. The thesis for the book in the author’s own words is that:
The South’s adoption of extreme racism is due not so much to a conversion as it was to a relaxation of the opposition. All the elements of fear, jealousy, proscription, hatred, and fanaticism had long been present, as they are present in various
May 01, 2013 Vicki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Pg 125 "Religious sentiment is not to be neglected in the briefest sketch of the agitation for Negro rights. The 'social gospel' movement began to permeate the great Southern Protestant sects in the early years of the century. As the breach between the estranged Northern and Southern branches of Methodism and the other churches healed more firmly in the 'thirties, the extension of the social gospel to include the Negro and his wrongs made itself felt more strongly in the in the Southern connecti ...more
May 15, 2012 William rated it really liked it
Started this book on vacation; it's easy to see why it is considered a classic. Woodward ably demonstrates that far from being intrinsic to the South, Jim Crow was something imposed. It was a political act. For the South and the Civil Rights movement, this understanding was a crucial one in helping the parties walk away from the formal practice. It should be underscored, that this book also was the means by which North and South reappraised their understanding of Jim Crow, and in doing so, chang ...more
Oct 27, 2015 Dan rated it it was amazing
This is an important book about the Civil Rights Movement in American history. We learn that around 1890 something happened which led to blacks being thought unfit to be around white people. Life suddenly became divided between black and white. Whites had the best of everything; blacks the worst.

This book is an important history of the period. The book itself became part of the story of racism in America.
Aug 27, 2015 Mehrsa rated it it was amazing
If you read one book about race and america, this should probably be it. It is short and so well done. I was asked by my law school to pick one of the most influential books I've ever read about the law to share with some law students and I picked this one. It was written long ago and it's a classic. It's an easier read than you would expect given the reputation of the writer and the name.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made
  • The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South
  • A Short History of Reconstruction
  • Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory
  • Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow
  • White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812
  • Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power
  • The Age of Reform
  • American Slavery: 1619-1877
  • An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy Vol. 1
  • The Impending Crisis: America Before the Civil War, 1848-1861
  • American Slavery, American Freedom
  • A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration
  • Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945
  • Samuel Johnson
  • The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South
  • Defying Dixie: The Radical Roots of Civil Rights: 1919-1950
  • Away Down South: A History of Southern Identity

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“The other was that all the major civil rights organizations, new as well as old, were committed to the philosophy of non-violence, the doctrine preached by the most conspicuous leader in the Negro movement, Martin Luther King. ‘We will soon wear you down by our capacity to suffer,’ he told the whites, ‘and in winning our freedom we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process.” 0 likes
“The fires of frustration and discord are burning in every city, North and South,’ he said. ‘Where legal remedies are not at hand, redress is sought in the streets in demonstrations, parades and protests, which create tensions and threaten violence—and threaten lives.” 0 likes
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