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The Deepest South of All: True Stories from Natchez, Mississippi

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  719 ratings  ·  163 reviews
Bestselling travel writer Richard Grant offers an entertaining and profound look at a city like no other.

Natchez, Mississippi, once had more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in America, and its wealth was built on slavery and cotton. Today it has the greatest concentration of antebellum mansions in the South, and a culture full of unexpected contradictions. Prom
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 1st 2020 by Simon Schuster
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Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“The soaring white columns, the manacles, the dingy apartment buildings at the Forks of the Road, the tendrils of Spanish moss hanging from the gnarled old trees, the humid fragrant air itself: everything seem charged with the lingering presence of slavery, in a way that I’d never experienced anywhere else.”

The author of this book is an English travel writer who immersed himself in the culture of Natchez, Mississippi. I was expecting something similar to “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”
Jul 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My review was first published on my blog Ballasts for the Mind:

Natchez, Mississippi is a very eccentric and quirky city in the southwest portion of the state. It has been described as being a little version of New Orleans, Louisiana and less like the rest of Mississippi. It has an interesting history, one in which it was Pro-Union during the Civil War even when Mississippi seceded but still promoted the institution of slavery. The citizens of Natchez cons
The Deepest South of All is a collection of essays surrounding Natchez, Mississippi. Called the "Little Easy" it is very unique in that you have the past juxtaposed against the present. The town's tourist attractions glamourize the antebellum years, yet it is perhaps one of the more progressive cities in the South. Natchez is a mix of Southern gentility and charm sprinkled with a host of eccentric characters. This unique history provides for many captivating stories.

One of the figures whose sto
Feb 21, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Richard Grant spent months observing the customs, traditions, interactions and lifestyle of the citizens of Natchez, Mississippi. In his travelogue he recounts his experiences in detail.
Prominent mention is made of two facts: Natchez was pro union during the Civil War and number two is the current mayor of Natchez is a gay black man. These two statements would lead one to believe that Natchez is a progressive modern city. Actually if you read the book you will find that Natchez is a racially div
A pity really! While I enjoyed Crazy River and Dispatches from Pluto, this was mostly a waste of time. I gave it two stars instead of one because I loved learning the history of slavery in Natchez...something I didn’t know! The story of the prince slave was great....but all the present “gossip” about the the 2 garden clubs was boring. And it was written as if it were all true and not 1 or 2 people’s opinions. Mr. Grant is a much better writer and researcher than this book.
Jul 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not exactly what I thought it would be, but still a stark look into the particular kind of racial divide you get when you go to the South. Richard Grant travels to Natchez, Mississippi where he compares the long-standing tradition of wealthy White Southerners to perform the Tableaux, a depiction of “the way of life for Natchezians in a pre-Civil War era.” Over several decades, the Tableaux conveniently left the lives of Black Natchezians out--a few halfhearted attempts were made to address slave ...more
Jennie Rosenblum
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A ramble through the old and new South. Living in the city that’s motto is “Keep Austin Weird” even I was not prepared for the eccentric airs of Natchez. Most of the people described have personality with a capital P. A juxtapose of history is presented with a clear path for the reader to follow. The harsher real history is made more palatable and understandable with the flair of current day events.
This is a thought-provoking book that should appeal to most history buffs as well as those of us w
Nov 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: race-id
I truly truly love books like this one. History is presented in such an interesting way, and that history (second largest slave market @Forks in the Road) is juxtaposed against current day Natchez.

The Silver Dollar Group was introduced to me by way of Greg Iles’ tome trilogy— but having it covered again— to think, the group was formed because the KKK

thank goodness it lasted for only 2 years, and the bevy of FBI informants was ratting on Red Glover.

Learning about “the
Bonnye Reed
I received a free ARC of this guide/memoir from Netgalley, Richard Grant, and Simon & Schuster. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read The Deepest South of All of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. I am pleased to add Richard Grant to my list of authors to follow. This book was remarkable in its ability to put you in place, heart, and soul. Natchez has always been on my list of places to revisit. This book makes that imperative as soo ...more
Sean Courtney
I loved this book. That's as simply as I know how to say it. It's the second time I have read a book, written by Richard Grant, wherein he examines the good, the bad, and the ugly, of a small pocket of my home state, and the second time that I've wanted nothing more than to immerse myself in that small pocket. I read Grant's DISPATCHES FROM PLUTO a few years ago, and was already much more familiar with the subject matter (the Mississippi Delta) than I was with Natchez when I decided to read his ...more
Luanne Ollivier
Sep 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love fiction, but honestly, the non fiction titles are the ones that stay with me the longest. I've enjoyed previous works from Richard Grant and was quite excited to listen to his latest - The Deepest South of All: True Stories from Natchez, Mississippi.

Grant has been described as a travel writer, but I think I think his writing encompasses more than just the physical. His locales are explored through the inhabitants - their history and stories. More of a sociological feel if you will. A tra
Elizabeth Plunkett
Jun 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs-2020
I have never given much thought to Natchez, Mississippi before reading The Deepest South of All by Richard Grant. In this thoroughly researched book Grant describes the pristine antebellum homes, records interviews and gives a local history. This book alternates between present day Natchez and the story of an enslaved African Prince, Abd al Rahman Ibrahima. The history was very interesting, I constantly found myself looking up the homes Grant mentions that he visited or stayed in to see what the ...more
I read that this was similar to "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" so I was all about it. Meh. It was fairly interesting but not nearly as dramatic or spellbinding. I felt that the inherent racism in these stories of Natchez, Mississippi was "excused" or "tolerated" (not that it is the author's place to tolerate racism). I mean, at the end of the book we discover that Grant and his wife considered moving to Natchez.
Katharine Boggess
I'm not objective about this one. It's unflattering to everyone interviewed and quoted, IMO, and I count them all among my friends and community. ...more
Jan 27, 2021 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Morgan Hedglin
Oct 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I went to Natchez for the first time ever last month (crazy because I’ve lived in the Jackson metro my whole life) and it was mesmerizing. This book highlights the wonders and craziness of Natchez while also shedding light on the atrocities that happened (and in some cases still happen) there. I can’t wait to visit again after reading this and seeing more of the places mentioned.
Mary Tyler March
Composed beautifully and a really interesting comparison of past and present in a corner of the South I was wholly unfamiliar with. I had a hard time putting it down, it was so captivating.
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-read
Book Review: The Deepest South of All: True Stories from Natchez, Mississippi
Author: Richard Grant
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
Review Date: May 20, 2020

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

From the blurb:
“Bestselling travel writer Richard Grant offers an entertaining and profound look at a city like no other.

Natchez, Mississippi, once had more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in America, and its wealth wa
Lyndy  Berryhill
Oct 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a really great and informative read about a place I’ve lived and thought I knew kore about. The descriptions and spirit of Natchez are spot on. I love the way Grant captures the gossip train of locals and the actively churning rumor mill. It was brilliant to pair the story of the prince alongside the faux aristocracy’s rise in town, a very telling story of racism and white privilege and how it played our over time.

Reading it, I realized I was actually present in Natchez when grant was
Oct 06, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let’s be honest here... this is pretty tone deaf. However, I was amazed at how quickly it grabbed me in terms of the personal stories of the people of Natchez, Mississippi, as well as the mesmerizing tale of Prince Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori (had to look that spelling up!). I was shocked at never hearing about that insane piece of American history before now.

Also, I listened to the audiobook so maybe I missed it. Who are the people on the cover?! I’d love to match some faces to names.

Susan Obryan
Sep 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When award-winning author Richard Grant receives an invitation to visit Natchez, once the shiniest jewel on the Mississippi River, he gladly accepts. He had heard stories about the riverfront town and was eager to see if they were true.

From that visit comes “The Deepest South of All: True Stories from Natchez, Mississippi,” a compelling look at a town filled with contradictions and colorful characters.

No, it’s not a story like “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” or the fiction novel “The
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having previously read Dispatches from Pluto, I couldn’t wait to read Grant’s observations of Natchez. Growing up in south Arkansas, and now living in Baton Rouge, I have had an observer’s perspective, but Natchez has always been that fascinating old Southern Belle who can’t quite reconcile the modern world with the past. Grant has an outsider’s view but a sympathetic eye for the south, and in this book as well as the last he lays bare the conflicting views of the old line Mississippi society an ...more
Lori White
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Man, I loved this book!

The Deepest South of All by Richard Grant reminded me a lot of one of my very favorite books and authors, Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horowitz. It's got that same kind of sharp curiosity and insight, and shares the stories of Natchez, Mississippi in a way that says as much about the storytellers as the town.

English by birth, the author explores the quirks and secrets of Natchez from the POV as an outsider, and is able to ask questions and get the truth out of locals
Carol Mowen
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a Natchezian by birth, when I saw this book on a friend's list to recommend last week, I ordered it immediately. It arrived via Amazon on Saturday, and I have just finished it. I laughed out loud many times at how right Grant pegs many of the aspects of my hometown. My mother and grandmother, after all, were members of the the "original" garden club - the Natchez Garden Club - and when I lived in Natchez after I first married, I, too, was a member. Growing up, I was part of "the Pageant" from ...more
Sep 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is my first read by Richard Grant, but it definitely will not be my last. Richard takes us to Natchez Mississippi, and opens the doors to the antebellum homes, the fun and friendly dinners, the odd couples, and sadly, the dark history of slavery in the area. The homes were all built by slaves with money made by working slaves, so the subject is delicate. Richard respects this and walks the fine line between appreciating the architecture and charm while acknowledging the despicable road that ...more
Ann Marie
Sep 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As Southerners say, we don’t hide our eccentrics, we sit them on the front porch in a rocking chair.

This book focuses on the Deep South town of Natchez, Mississippi. It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump up from New Orleans and adopts its lassiez faire attitude from the city. Natchez is a cultural center still filled with beautiful pre-Civil War mansions, yet also has a terribly ugly past of hosting one of the largest slave trading centers in the South.

When I saw this author was British, my left eye
Feb 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
February for me means reading books by black authors in celebration of Black History month. I’ve found some wonderful favorites in years past (Zora Neale Hurston leaps to mind). This year, I added some books on race relations, and started with “The Deepest South of All,” by Richard Grant (not a black author). I discovered this book at one of my favorite independent booksellers, Lemuria Books, and purchased a first edition signed copy.

If, like me, you love history in general, and Mississippi his
Erin Loranger
Jun 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read and offer an honest review of this book.

Richard Grant 's compelling storytelling and expert technique of weaving together the past and present of Natchez, Mississippi made for an unforgettable study of the cultural anthropology of the riverside town. The present-day people whom he profiles are a mix of eccentrics, town leaders and notables, and people trying to heal the wounds of the past all while firmly (and often unapologetically) clinging to th
Tom Schulte
Aug 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating history of Natchez, Mississippi from its beginnings to its state today including landmarks I have visited, such as King's Tavern and the storied Under-The-Hill. Key to the town's complex nature the apotheosis as Gone With the Wind theme park and municipal curator of “Lost Cause” racist ideology preserved in rather bizarre pageants reaching back to the 1930s. The Lost Cause view reached tens of millions of Americans in the best-selling 1936 novel by Margaret Mitchell and ...more
Sep 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I discovered Richard Grant when I read his Dispatches from Pluto. I loved his writing style and his typical Britishness. He does not disappoint with The Deepest South of All. Without any preconceived ideas, he sets out to learn and write about life in Natchez, Mississippi. He befriends garden club ladies who run the social calendar of the town as well as civil rights leaders who are still fighting for racial equity in the deep south. It is filled with eccentric Mississippi characters and stomach ...more
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Richard Grant is a freelance British travel writer based in Arizona. He was born in Malaysia, lived in Kuwait as a boy and then moved to London. He went to school in Hammersmith and received a history degree from University College, London. After graduation he worked as a security guard, a janitor, a house painter and a club DJ before moving to America where he lived a nomadic life in the American ...more

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“Now the city, led by the new mayor, Darryl Grennell, was erecting a monument to honor the survivors of the Parchman Ordeal, and others who were arrested for attempting to march. The “Proud to Take a Stand” monument, a black granite wall with the names of all the 439 people who were wrongfully arrested, will stand in the grounds of the city auditorium. “It’s the first monument in Natchez that addresses a very traumatic, difficult, but ultimately victorious era in our history,” said Mayor Grennell. “No tour of civil rights history in the Deep South will be complete without a visit to this site.” 0 likes
“The problem with divisiveness is that it doesn’t lead to prosperity. It holds us back. We use up all our energy fighting over a pie that is getting smaller and smaller as our population and tax base declines” 0 likes
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