Alabama Getaway

The Political Imaginary and the Heart of Dixie

Title Details

Pages: 380

Trim Size: 152.400mm x 228.600mm x 30.480mm

Formats

Paperback

Pub Date: 03/15/2011

ISBN: 9-780-8203-3049-5

List Price: $26.95

Hardcover

Pub Date: 03/15/2011

ISBN: 9-780-8203-3048-8

List Price: $76.95

Alabama Getaway

The Political Imaginary and the Heart of Dixie

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  • Description
  • Reviews

In Alabama Getaway Allen Tullos explores the recent history of one of the nation's most conservative states to reveal its political imaginary-the public shape of power, popular imagery, and individual opportunity.

From Alabama's largely ineffectual politicians to its miserly support of education, health care, cultural institutions, and social services, Tullos examines why the state appears to be stuck in repetitive loops of uneven development and debilitating habits of judgment. The state remains tied to fundamentalisms of religion, race, gender, winner-take-all economics, and militarism enforced by punitive and defensive responses to criticism. Tullos traces the spectral legacy of George Wallace, ponders the roots of anti-egalitarian political institutions and tax structures, and challenges Birmingham native Condoleezza Rice's use of the civil rights struggle to justify the war in Iraq. He also gives due coverage to the state's black citizens who with a minority of whites have sustained a movement for social justice and democratic inclusion. As Alabama competes for cultural tourism and global industries like auto manufacturing and biomedical research, Alabama Getaway asks if the coming years will see a transformation of the "Heart of Dixie."

A compelling view of Alabama's challenges, and possibly a blueprint for meeting them. Informed readers of politics and Southern culture will be engrossed, and some likely infuriated.

ForeWord Reviews

American studies at its best, a penetrating reflection on why this former seat of the Confederacy exists in the national imaginary as both a political, economic, and cultural backwater and a site where the Goliath of Jim Crow was slain by humble descendants of slaves. Alabama Getaway is a rich and surprising journey to which you'll want to return.

—Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original

Along with masterworks such as 1934's Stars Fell on Alabama, this book stands in the first rank of indispensable books about the 'strange country' that calls itself the Heart of Dixie. No student of Alabamiana can afford to be without Alabama Getaway. For close to two centuries now, historians, journalists, novelists, and poets have wrestled with the maddening paradoxes that Tullos confronts with measured authority. . . . He deepens our understanding of Alabama even while convincing us there is little reason for optimism about its governance. Yet he gives due credit for the civil rights gains that represent Alabama's greatest achievement. Bravo! This is a masterful book about a wounded, neurotic, maddening, and-for those of us born to its soil-an enduringly lovable place.

—Howell Raines

Residents of any state can ask a variation of the question posed by Tullos: 'What makes Alabama Alabama?' Historians, sociologists, journalists and others grapple with such questions regularly. Rarely, however, has any author tackled the question as effectively as has Tullos . . . Tullos' book is so insightful because it transcends the obvious targets. Because Tullos grew up in Alabama, he can empathize even as he criticizes those who believe the state is unfairly maligned.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Alabama Getaway resists easy categorization. Part Menckenesque journalism, part history, part acerbic social commentary, it veers between the catch phrases of the interdisciplinary seminar and more conventional political analysis. . . . Tullos is at his best when examining the failure of Alabamians-including Condoleezza Rice-to deal honestly with their own history.

—Clarence L. Mohr, Journal of American History

Borrowing his title from the Grateful Dead, Tullos treads the line between historical narrative and political treatise, offering both an explanation of how the state got into such poor shape and suggestions for how it can improve. His tendency for well-crafted satirical phrases gives this pointed narrative of lost opportunities and missteps a comedic tone as he reminds the reader of how far Alabama has come, yet how far it still has to go. . . .An Important book that contributes to both Alabama's history and the contemporary political debates over its future.

—Michael Bowen, Alabama Review

Tullos's greatest contribution to historians is in his theoretical discussion of the political imaginary. His work reiterates the old political lesson that perception is reality and those who dictate perception create that reality.

—Dana J. Alsen, Southern Historian

Tullos is a skillful writer, deserving of the best compliments a reader can offer. . . . this is a book that should be read by any Alabamian willing to think beyond "Sez you," and willing to consider the promise of an Alabama capable of breaking with its past.

—Jeff Frederick, H-Net Reviews

About the Author/Editor

ALLEN TULLOS, who is a native of Alabama, teaches American studies at Emory University. He is the author of Habits of Industry: White Culture and the Transformation of the Carolina Piedmont and editor of Long Journey Home: Folklife in the South. Tullos is a cofounder and senior editor of the Internet journal Southern Spaces and has worked on numerous documentary films.