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The Strange Career Of Jim Crow

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  2,620 ratings  ·  134 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
Hardcover, Third Revised Edition, 233 pages
Published March 21st 1974 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
Bill FromPA
This version of The Strange Career of Jim Crow represents four different editions: the original 1955 edition, a revised 1957 paperback, the second edition of 1966 and the third edition of 1974. As a work of history, each of these editions is flawed: the later parts of the book deal in then-current events and in writing about them the author is does not have available some of the important tools of a historian’s discipline such as examination of private or otherwise hidden documents or the ...more
Jan 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: race, history
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
Martin King
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 ...more
Had to read this for a class, so didn't have as much time to invest into it as I would have liked to. Nonetheless, learned a lot I wouldn't have otherwise! Will possibly revisit this one in the future when I have more time.
Jun 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book because it gave a perspective of segregation you don't normally read about. I only gave the book 3 stars, and I would've given it more, but a lot of it I didn't understand. The language is advanced and at this age it's hard to understand. I think if I read it later in life I would like it and understand it more
Mar 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"[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 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Shall I Download A Black Hole And Offer It To You
***100% my opinion on MLK***
the soft tone of this book speaks of one aspect of the approach MLK took to the Civil Rights Movement, that being non-violent resistance... the book in most places feels like someone trying to pummel you into submission with a pillow... the fact MLK calls this book the "bible of the CRM" is something i find disturbing in 2018, as it has such a paternalistic tone... Woodward details the myriad ways all three branches of government conspired to deny rights to blacks,
Feb 12, 2018 added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: race
This book opened my eyes to the real truth about the efforts, successes, failures and back slides of the civil rights effort across the history of our Unites States. The revelation to me that the history we learned in high school and college was woefully incomplete is astounding. Its tragic that the history in this volume (which was first published in 1954 and last revised in 1974) is essentially (for the most part) still ignored by those teaching civil rights history today. The rise in attained ...more
Howard Gardner
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a seminal book that's useful for anyone to get an accurate picture of the scope of Jim crow from it's origins to how it played out until the early 70's. Of particular interest is the last few sub-chapters wherein Woodward juxtaposes the more radical voices of Rap Brown and Stokely Carmichael VS Martin Luther King Jr. I see a similar split in the political left between so-called neo-liberals like Clinton and the seemingly more progressive voices like Bernie Sanders.
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The Strange Career of Jim Crow is an absolutely classic history book that deserves to be read now, more than 60 years after its first publication. First published in 1955, the short book is a collection of lectures by Woodward which he then updated twice in the 1960sw and 1970s. But don't let the word "lecture" scare you off. This is an eye-opening history of black and white relations immediately after the civil war to the late twentieth century. It reads easily and will probably take you by ...more
Bryan Craig
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history
This is a fascinating book. Woodward presents a clear, thoughtful argument about the emergence of Jim Crow laws. I learned a lot about the Reconstruction, then emerging Progressive period when these laws surfaced. Woodrow Wilson's position on race makes much more sense. A standard work.
Erik Graff
Feb 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: US citizens
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
This is the third edition of a book I've had in my sights since hearing about it in high school. Published in the mid-seventies, Woodward covers the period from the conclusion of the Civil War through Nixon's 'southern strategy'. The best parts, however, are those of the first edition, exploding as they do many common misconceptions about the 'tradition' of segregation in the South. According to Woodward, the segregation laws really only began to be instituted around 1900 after a series of ...more
Marilyn Jess
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Martin Luther King considered this classic book as a Bible of Civil Rights. I agree. Written in the 1950's, it has never been out of print.

For a nonfiction book, that's remarkable. The book is based on a series of lectures, given by C. Vann Woodward, at the University of Virginia, around the time of the landmark Brown V. Board of Education decision. The words are potent, and powerful. At the time he lectured, I daresay he was likely threatened for airing such stark truths. I could not read it
E. Nicholas
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A short, but powerful book chronicling the rise and fall of Jim Crow society in America. Martin Luther King Jr. called it, "the historical Bible of the Civil Rights Movement." Is any other review or recommendation even necessary? Five stars.
Steven Rapelje
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
Quintillis K.
Was a great book regarding the historical context of race relations post civil war to mid to late 1960s, but I was extremely disappointed in the lack of depth, or the cursory slighted approach to the late 1960s, in particular the Black Panthers. There was no mention of their social programs, nor the FBI's COINTELPRO actions against the Panthers. The Author, while extremely adept in his writing on Reconstruction and Post-Reconstruction, was apparently not as well informed, or decided not to ...more
Aug 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another one of those mind-bending history books that makes you re-think American history.
Sean Rosenthal
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
Porter Broyles
1. How well written is it?

This book is well written and easy to read.

2. How interesting is the subject?

The subject is very interesting.

But the value in reading this book isn't solely for the content, this book is one of the few books that *IS* history. Martin Luther King called this book the historical Bible for the Civil Rights movement. This book helped to shape the Civil Rights movement and the dialogues that occurred in the 1950s-1970s.

That makes this book worthy of reading in and of
Lucas Miller
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is far from a perfect book. It shows it's age in many crucial, nigh unforgivable ways. Hardest to deal with or explain away is Woodward's dismissive reading of the Black Power movement, and the seeming failure of Civil Rights after 1965.

So why five stars. On a personal note, this book was a formative book in my career as a history student. Reading this for Dr. Ron Wood's American Culture History seminar inspired me to go to graduate school and study the early 20th century and the Populist
Kevin Oliver
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely a book of important historical significance, time has moved on, somewhat weakening the book.

That is partly the fault of attempts to stay current. Added chapters that attempt to deal with the aftermath of the Civil Rights Act and the unrest and nationalism that followed end up striking a paternalistic tone without adding much understanding.

Those sections did give me one new thought, as they mentioned the influence of West Indians and I realized that I don't know much about how that
Brian Anton
Oct 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kevin Fitzpatrick
A piece of history that describes that selfsame historical arc, C. Vann Woodward's "The Strange Career of Jim Crow" is I read that I found to be both enjoyable and very enlightening. Its laying out of the subtleties of institutionalized racism from the end of the American Civil War, through Reconstruction, through the institutionalization of Jim Crow, and finally to the ending of the Civil Rights and Post-Civil Rights Eras, included much new information and data related in a smooth, easy to read ...more
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Strange Career of Jump Crow, by Comer Vann Woodward, was published in 1955 to tell the story of the Jim Crow law made during the reconstruction of 1877. The story was made after a year after the Supreme Court ordered schools segregated during the Brown v. Board of Education. Following through his lifetime from 1908-1999, he tells the history of the racial segregation present in the South after the Civil War. Although slavery was abolished, this didn't stop the South from keeping a black man ...more
Polly Rosenstein
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book starts by describing events during Reconstruction and pre Jim Crow laws of segregation. I thought at first the author was trying to "white wash" race relations and say that things really weren't so bad after all, but as I continued reading, I saw that he was making a case for segregation starting after Reconstruction ended when many rights, particularly voting rights, were taken away from African Americans. I'm glad I continued reading. The book ends in the 1970s. There are no more Jim ...more
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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.” 2 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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