Cover: Why White Liberals Fail: Race and Southern Politics from FDR to Trump, from Harvard University PressCover: Why White Liberals Fail in HARDCOVER

Why White Liberals Fail

Race and Southern Politics from FDR to Trump

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$27.95 • £24.95 • €25.95

ISBN 9780674242340

Publication Date: 06/14/2022


256 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

The Nathan I. Huggins Lectures


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[An] important book… For the casual reader, this is a fast-paced introduction to Southern history. For those of us who know and admire Tony Badger, this book is a wonderful overview of a celebrated career, offering personal insight into his evolving study of a region that cries out to be better understood. To know the South is to love it, be confused and horrified by it, and then to fall in love with it all over again.—Tim Stanley, The Telegraph

Anthony J. Badger’s analysis of liberal white Southerners since the 1930s suggests how difficult it is going to be to bring the white working class back into the fold… Badger identifies promising moments in several decades, including (after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965) successful biracial electoral coalitions. Yet today there are fewer white Democrats in the South than ever… Badger runs from race, and racism, as explanations, but as he himself concedes, he never gets far.—James Goodman, New York Times Book Review

Anthony Badger is a master of Southern politics, and this book is a highly readable account of the decades of racist politics that brought us to our present moment. Replete with interesting stories and vivid characters, and backed up by exhaustive research, this is an in-depth account of how white Southerners restructured white supremacy to work in four different political time periods: the New Deal, the post–World War II period, the Civil Rights movement, and the Trump moment. Badger demonstrates how structural racism can be remodeled to incorporate political ‘progress,’ and cloaked in many colors.—Glenda Gilmore, author of Defying Dixie

This is a provocative summary of the history of twentieth-century white Southern liberalism. It is also an honest and engaging personal account of a distinguished scholar trying to make sense of it.—Joseph Crespino, author of Atticus Finch

Why White Liberals Fail explores how racial fears and the structure and culture of white supremacy influenced the response of moderate politicians to pivotal moments of social disruption in the South. Badger offers a fresh analysis of how Southern politicians met the challenges they faced in the years before the Civil Rights movement, and explores the consequences of the deeply racialized politics of the South for the trajectory of American history ever since. He brilliantly broadens the lens for understanding our current moment, and sheds critical light on the trajectory of Southern liberalism and American politics in the decades since Jim Crow’s demise.—Patricia Sullivan, author of Justice Rising

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