Against the Tide

Free State of JonesFree State of Jones by Victoria E. Bynum
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't often pick up a book after seeing a movie, much less a movie trailer, but in this case I am glad I did. Victoria Bynum presents a detailed history of a rebellion of small farmers, deserters from the Confederate Army, and escaped slaves against the Confederate slave holding aristocracy. Loyal to the Union, Captain Newton Knight successfully fought off repeated Confederate cavalry raids from 1863 to the end of the Civil War, and was notorious throughout the next century not only for his successful resistance to the "Lost Cause," but also for his extended mixed race family. Knight has been alternately lauded for his daring and initiative in fighting off the Confederate Army and sustaining the people of a poor county in Mississippi and vilified for his defiance of the South's increasingly draconian segregation. Despite Professor Bynum's measured academic tone, the moving story of a gallant band who stood fast against the dark tide of secession and segregation shines forth. I highly recommend this book not only as an antidote to racist Southern mythology but also to the caricature of the South as uniformly illiterate and bigoted. Careful in its analysis, this story is also refreshing and inspirational in its humanity. One place where interested readers can continue the conversation is Professor Bynum's blog, Renegade South.

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