Cover: The End of Southern Exceptionalism: Class, Race, and Partisan Change in the Postwar South, from Harvard University PressCover: The End of Southern Exceptionalism in PAPERBACK

The End of Southern Exceptionalism

Class, Race, and Partisan Change in the Postwar South

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Product Details


$26.00 • £20.95 • €23.50

ISBN 9780674032491

Publication Date: 03/31/2009


240 pages

39 line illustrations, 30 tables


Enlightened opinion holds that the South is a racist, economic backwater where white backlash against the Civil Rights movement replaced the Democratic ‘Solid South’ with Republican dominance in the region. Now Byron Shafer and Richard Johnston are challenging this enduring ‘myth.’ In The End of Southern Exceptionalism, they convincingly argue that it wasn’t the GOP playing the race card that spurred the rise of Southern Republicans, but post-World War II economic development.—Robert Saldin, The New York Post

Byron E. Shafer and Richard Johnston challenge the notion of regional distinctiveness and the centrality of race to Southern politics in their meticulous study, The End of Southern Exceptionalism. They scour reams of electoral returns—this book is a sweet fix for political junkies—to challenge the theory that the Republican Party is nothing more than the remnant of the old conservative Democratic Party.—David Turner, The News & Observer

Political scientists, following one argument advanced in V.O. Key’s 1948 classic Southern Politics, have long declared that the increasing Republicanism of the American South was a response to racial issues. Now Byron Shafer and Richard Johnston present a new view in The End of Southern Exceptionalism. Noting that Key also argued that economics affected Southern politics, they use election and polling data to show that the increasing Republicanism of the South has been primarily a response to the vast economic change in the region since 1948. Their argument is convincing, and will be as important in assessing Southern politics as Key’s.—Michael Barone, Senior Writer, U.S. News & World Report, co-author of The Almanac of American Politics 1972–2006, and author of Our Country: The Shaping of American from Roosevelt to Reagan

Byron Shafer and Richard Johnston have broken new ground in the study of race and class in the post-war South. Challenging orthodox analyses, Shafer and Johnston show the crucial importance of class, especially the powerful role of economic elites, in driving the early movement toward the Republican Party. The End of Southern Exceptionalism: Class, Race, and Partisan Change in the Postwar South is essential reading, not just for students of American politics, but for all those interested in the transformation of the most interesting region of the country.—Thomas Byrne Edsall, Washington Post writer and co-author of Chain Reaction: The Impact of Race, Rights, and Taxes on American Politics

Awards & Accolades

  • 2007 Best Book Award on Race, Ethnicity, and Political Representation & Participation, Race, Ethnicity, and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association
  • 2007 V.O. Key Award, Southern Political Science Association
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