The Frances S. Summersell Center for the Study of the South is pleased to announce the winner of our first biennial Deep South Book Prize is James C. Giesen, for his book, Boll Weevil Blues: Cotton, Myth, and Power in the American South (Chicago). In demonstrating how the supposed agricultural crisis created by the boll weevil’s infiltration of southern cotton was a product of culture and imagination as much as actual crop damage, Giesen’s work is a stunning example of how sometimes much of what we think we know about a subject is just flat wrong. It also reveals more complex and compelling truths. Our hearty congratulations to Mr. Giesen, who is assistant professor of history at Mississippi State University and director of the Center for the History of Agriculture, Science, and the Environment in the South.
Receiving honorable mentions from the Summersell Center are four additional books, each of which provided the book prize committee with hard choices and each of which is deserving of praise in its own right. They are, in alphabetical order:
Wayne Flynt, Keeping the Faith: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives. A Memoir (Alabama)
Danielle L. McGuire, At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance—a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power (Vintage)
Justin A. Nystrom, New Orleans after the Civil War: Race, Politics, and a New Birth of Freedom (Johns Hopkins)
Paul Quigley, Shifting Grounds: Nationalism and the American South, 1848-1865 (Oxford)