LaKisha Michelle Simmons: Surviving R. Kelly: Church and Gendered Respectability in the 1990s

Crescent City Girls: The Lives of Young Black Women in Segregated New Orleans, by LaKisha Michelle SimmonsWe welcome a guest post today from LaKisha Michelle Simmons, author of Crescent City Girls: The Lives of Young Black Women in Segregated New Orleans.

What was it like to grow up black and female in the segregated South? In Crescent City Girls, Simmons blends social history and cultural studies, recreating children’s streets and neighborhoods within Jim Crow New Orleans and offering a rare look into black girls’ personal lives. Simmons argues that these children faced the difficult task of adhering to middle-class expectations of purity and respectability even as they encountered the daily realities of Jim Crow violence, which included interracial sexual aggression, street harassment, and presumptions of black girls’ impurity.

Crescent City Girls is available in both print and ebook editions.

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Surviving R. Kelly: Church and Gendered Respectability in the 1990s

On January 3rd, Lifetime television began a three-day event, Surviving R Kelly, a docu-series focusing on R&B singer R. Kelly’s alleged pedophilia and sexual and domestic abuse of black girls and young women.  After watching the allegations, listening to survivors, and seeing evidence mount, many viewers wondered how did R. Kelly’s sexual abuse of black girls continue unchecked for so long? How did we—as a society—allow this to happen?

Scholars of black girlhood have carefully documented how black girls are not granted childhood innocence in American culture. Black girls are pushed out, overpoliced, and underprotected.  As a young Black teenager, Tressie Mcmillan Cottom listened to family reactions to the 1992 boxer Mike Tyson’s rape trial and learned: “black girls like me can never truly be victims of sexual predators.”

There are a multitude of cultural narratives—both within the Black community and within American society at large— that have left Black girls underprotected, making sure that they can never be seen as victims of sexual predators. After watching Surviving R Kelly, I was reminded of how R. Kelly maintained his reputation by drawing support for himself and his music from the Black church. Feminist theologian Candace Benbow recently documented some of this support by pastors and well-known gospel singers, much of it after R. Kelly was charged with child pornography in June 2002. How did R. Kelly manage this relationship?

Continue Reading LaKisha Michelle Simmons: Surviving R. Kelly: Church and Gendered Respectability in the 1990s

Patricia de Santana Pinho: Traveling Brazil

Mapping Diaspora by Patricia de Santana PinhoToday we welcome a guest post from Patricia de Santana Pinho, author of Mapping Diaspora:  African American Roots Tourism in Brazil, just published by UNC Press.

Brazil, like several countries in Africa, has become a major destination for African American tourists seeking the cultural roots of the black Atlantic diaspora. Drawing on over a decade of ethnographic research as well as textual, visual, and archival sources, Patricia de Santana Pinho investigates African American roots tourism, a complex, poignant kind of travel that provides profound personal and collective meaning for those searching for black identity and heritage. It also provides, as Pinho’s interviews with Brazilian tour guides, state officials, and Afro-Brazilian activists reveal, economic and political rewards that support a structured industry.

Mapping Diaspora is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Traveling Brazil

Brazil has long fascinated foreigners, even before it was known as Brazil. The first Europeans to ever set foot on that vast stretch of land were Portuguese explorers/exploiters in 1500. In a letter to the king of Portugal, the scribe Pero Vaz de Caminha detailed the wonders of the newfound territory and its exotic inhabitants. He was particularly struck by the magnificent natural landscape and the nonchalant nudity of the indigenous women. 518 years later, we hear echoes of Caminha’s depictions in tourism representations of Brazil as a tropical paradise and of Brazilians as a naturally sensual people.

An average of six million international tourists visit Brazil per year. To make sense of why so many people travel to Brazil, it is important to consider how Brazil itself travels. The images of the country that circulate in global mediascapes have a powerful effect on either repelling or attracting visitors as well as in shaping their gazes and expectations. The way a country travels to the potential tourist may deeply inform the way the tourist travels to that country. As polysemic as potentially any other destination, Brazil appeals to a wide variety of types of tourists, whose respective imaginaries reveal more about where they are coming from than where they are going. From the European ecotourists, who travel in search of a pristine natural environment inhabited by noble savages, to the African American roots tourists, who envision Bahia as a “closer Africa” where they can encounter their diasporic counterparts, Brazil is a magnet also for international sex tourists, white and black, who fantasize about the stereotypical Brazilian woman, fully adorned with a Brazilian butt lift, hair styled in a Brazilian blow-out, and possibly also sporting a Brazilian wax.

Continue Reading Patricia de Santana Pinho: Traveling Brazil

Andrew Newman: Captivity Narratives and The Handmaid’s Tale, Part 1

Allegories of Encounter: Colonial Literacy and Indian Captivities by Andrew NewmanToday we welcome the first of a two-part guest post from Andrew Newman, author of Allegories of Encounter:  Colonial Literacy and Indian Captivities, just published by UNC Press and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.

Presenting an innovative, interdisciplinary approach to colonial America’s best-known literary genre, Andrew Newman analyzes depictions of reading, writing, and recollecting texts in Indian captivity narratives. While histories of literacy and colonialism have emphasized the experiences of Native Americans, as students in missionary schools or as parties to treacherous treaties, captivity narratives reveal what literacy meant to colonists among Indians. Colonial captives treasured the written word in order to distinguish themselves from their Native captors and to affiliate with their distant cultural communities. Their narratives suggest that Indians recognized this value, sometimes with benevolence: repeatedly, they presented colonists with books.

Allegories of Encounter is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Captivity Narratives and The Handmaid’s Tale
Part I. Reception Allegories

Why did sales of George Orwell’s 1984 and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale surge in 2017? The immediate answer to this question, that the grim forebodings of these works of speculative fiction are seemingly being fulfilled by current events, is not sufficient. It does not explain the shared impulse to seek out parallels to one’s experience in one’s reading, or the recourse to reading in response to disorienting, upsetting events. A more thoroughgoing explanation emerges through the study of colonial captivity narratives.

Allegories of Encounter is about representations of literacy practices in the narrative accounts of colonists who were captured by Native Americans during colonial wars. It argues that for these captives, reading and writing were part of a reassertion of a cultural identity under duress – even as they were stripped of their European clothes, famished and fatigued, they remained ideationally connected to their estranged communities by reading, writing, recollecting, and meditating on texts.

Moreover, these texts became part of their experience of captivity. That is, a conventional model of intertextuality focuses on the relations between texts, but I argue that stories also inform experiences, and even influence behaviors. I develop the concept of the “reception allegory,” in which the story one is reading, a story about others in other times and places, is also understood as the story of oneself.

Many instances of reception allegory in accounts of captivity extend the Christian interpretive practice of typology. Early New England captives understood the story of the Old Testament Jews who were carried away captive to Babylon as a literal account of an event that occurred in the remote past, as a prefiguration of the story of Christ in the New Testament, and as a pattern for their own experience. For example, the following passage is from Mary Rowlandson’s famous – to early Americanists – 1682 account of captivity during King Philip’s War, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God. It recounts the moment soon after Narragansetts and Wampanoags captured her in a raid on Lancaster, when they brought her across the Connecticut River and into a re-enactment of the 137th Psalm.

Although I had met with so much affliction, and my heart was many times ready to break, yet could I not shed one tear in their sight; but rather had been all this while in a maze, and like one astonished. But now I may say as Psalm 137.1, “By the Rivers of Babylon, there we sate down: yea, we wept when we remembered Zion.”

Continue Reading Andrew Newman: Captivity Narratives and The Handmaid’s Tale, Part 1

The end is near — the last days to shop the UNC Press Holiday Gift Books sale!

UNC Press Holiday Gift Books SaleYes, the holidays are over, the lights and decorations are all put away, and the eggnog (and the Scout Elf) disappear for eleven months.

So too must end the UNC Press Holiday Gift Books sale.  Just one week left — for you to save 40 percent off all UNC Press print books.  And, if your order totals $75, the domestic shipping is FREE!

Click here to start shopping …. and use promo code 01HOLIDAY at checkout to see your discount.

So don’t delay — if you haven’t shopped our sale yet, you only have a few more days left.

And, if you haven’t checked out our newest releases for Spring, click here to browse the full list.

Happy New Year — and happy shopping!

Announcing the Early American Literature Book Prize for 2018

In the Neighborhood: Women’s Publication in Early America by Caroline Wigginton, winner of the 2018 Early American Literature Book PrizeProfessor Caroline Wigginton of the University of Mississippi has been selected to receive the 2018 Early American Literature Book Prize, which is awarded in even calendar years to a first monograph published in the prior two years, and in odd years to a second or subsequent book. Wigginton’s In the Neighborhood: Women’s Publication in Early America was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in 2016.

According to prize committee members, In the Neighborhood “combines media studies with literary analysis to highlight women’s expressive networks,” thereby “showing them to be savvy participants in complex, dense scenes of intercultural encounter.” The study’s innovative approach encourages readers to resist the tendency to think of early American women primarily in symbolic terms related to nationhood monolithically conceived. Instead, it delivers on its titular promise to relocate us “in the neighborhood,” a common phrase in early America used to refer to a smaller geographic region comprised of diverse peoples.

Continue Reading Announcing the Early American Literature Book Prize for 2018

Interview with Keith Allen, owner of Allen & Son Barbecue Restaurant in Chapel Hill, on the occasion of its closing

This past month, the renowned Chapel Hill restaurant, Allen & Son Barbecue, quietly closed its doors for the final time.  It’s owner, Keith Allen, was interviewed in depth by John Shelton Reed, Dale Volberg Reed and William McKinney, in their book, Holy Smoke:  The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue.

For those of us who will forever miss this landmark eatery, we re-run the interview here.

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On the  Fault Line:  Allen & Son, Chapel Hill

“I keep cooking with wood because I’m chasing that flavor.”

Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue, by John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg ReedKeith Allen has served fine barbecue to a couple of generations of UNC students and locals at Allen & Son, on Highway 86 north of Chapel Hill.  (There’s another Allen & Son on 15-501 toward Pittsboro, but someone else runs it and they no longer cook with wood.)  The hunting and fishing trophies that decorate the walls are almost as memorable as the barbecue, smoked over hickory wood that Mr. Allen splits himself.  Given his location right near the Eastern-Piedmont divide, it’s fitting that Mr. Allen serves Piedmont-style shoulders with an Eastern-style sauce.  In 2007 the Southern Foodways Alliance honored him with its Tabasco Guardian of the Tradition Award.

I started cooking barbecue because I needed money. I was hungry and I needed work and I know how to do the job and somebody was going to pay me to do it.  So in order to eat beans I split wood.  I’m hoping my daughter will be smarter and don’t have to do that — do whatever you could do — in order to make a living.  So many times in the late fifties and sixties that was the major concern.  Around here there were still one-horse farms and board houses — there was just not a lot of money around.  Jobs were just jobs; you just did what you could do every day to make things work that week. And you usually had a garden, and put food in the freezer and lived out of that freezer in the wintertime. A lady called me one time and asked me if I had a recycling program.  I said I’ve had a program like that ever since I’ve been alive. We didn’t throw anything away. My grandmother would take the wrapper out of a cornflake box and use it to line her cake pans with.

In the mid-fifties my family had a little hotdog joint and gas station with two tables, and the owner of the building introduced barbecue there.  [They cooked] just a shoulder or two and had a block and they’d pull that one shoulder out and they’d beat it up and make a sandwich – that’s the way it was done at that time. And every sandwich was different because they’d chop up different portions and then somebody’d just ladle some sauce on it and throw it on a bun and throw some slaw on it and hand it to you and you’re out the door.

I must have been twelve or thirteen, and that was the first time I’d ever seen barbecue actually done. My father went down to what is now our [Pittsboro] location and bought the business out and went into work down there and I started cooking. I don’t remember how, actually.  Maybe I didn’t learn; maybe I just started doing it and it just happened.

Continue Reading Interview with Keith Allen, owner of Allen & Son Barbecue Restaurant in Chapel Hill, on the occasion of its closing

Holiday Recipe: Country Ham Cheesecake from Southern Snacks by Perre Coleman Magness

Perre Coleman Magness is the author of Southern Snacks:  77 Recipes for Small Bites with Big Flavors, published this fall by UNC Press. You can follow her on Twitter.

Here she shares a favorite recipe for your holiday get-together.  Southern Snacks is available now in both print and ebook editions.

(And, during our Holiday Gift Books Sale, you can get Southern Snacks for 40 percent off!  Just use the promo code 01HOLIDAY at checkout.)

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Savory cheesecakes are a thing. I’ve had them at parties all my life. When I submitted the manuscript for Pimento Cheese: The Cookbook to my New York–based publisher, the editors and copy editors were sure that a pimento cheese cheesecake would cause great confusion. When I first conceived this salty, savory, country ham version, I knew it would be good, but in truth, it is better than good. It even surprised me. The added bonus of this treat is that it serves a crowd. And a little pepper jelly on the side is not a bad thing.

Country Ham Cheesecake from Southern Snacks by Perre Coleman MagnessCountry Ham Cheesecake

Serves a crowd

1 sleeve buttery crackers (such as Townhouse), about 34 crackers
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
6 ounces center-cut country ham biscuit slices
4 green onions, white and light green parts
1 clove garlic
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
1¼ cups sour cream
8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Crystal)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Generous grinds of black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray. Wrap a piece of foil around the bottom of the pan to catch any dripping butter from the crust.

Process the crackers and pecans to fine crumbs in a small food processor. Add the melted butter and process until it all comes together. It will be very wet—don’t worry. Press the crumbs onto the bottom of the springform pan, pressing a little bit up the sides of the pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool.

Continue Reading Holiday Recipe: Country Ham Cheesecake from Southern Snacks by Perre Coleman Magness

E. Patrick Johnson: Black. Queer. Southern. Women.

Black. Queer. Southern. Women.: An Oral History by E. Patrick JohnsonToday we welcome a guest post from E. Patrick Johnson, author of Black. Queer. Southern. Women.:  An Oral History, just published by UNC Press.

Drawn from the life narratives of more than seventy African American queer women who were born, raised, and continue to reside in the American South, this book powerfully reveals the way these women experience and express racial, sexual, gender, and class identities–all linked by a place where such identities have generally placed them on the margins of society. Using methods of oral history and performance ethnography, E. Patrick Johnson’s work vividly enriches the historical record of racialized sexual minorities in the South and brings to light the realities of the region’s thriving black lesbian communities.

Black. Queer. Southern. Women. is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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One of the most important lessons I have learned in conducting oral histories is one instilled in me by my now deceased colleague, mentor, and friend, Dwight Conquergood, whose famous line still rings true today: “Opening and interpreting lives, is not the same as opening and closing books.” Indeed, when a scholar solicits a life history from someone—for academic or nonacademic purposes—they have a responsibility to acknowledge the extraordinary gift that they have been given. Trust is never a given and must always be earned. This is particularly true when there is a divide between the one who shares their story and the one who bears witness to it. As a male scholar on a quest to chronicle the lives of black southern women who love women, I was keenly aware of the tightrope I had to walk to represent these stories that would honor these women without making them too “precious.”

E. Patrick Johnson, Book Launch Event for Black.Queer.Southern.Women at Charis Books, Atlanta, GA

E. Patrick Johnson, Book Launch Event for Black.Queer.Southern.Women at Charis Books, Atlanta, GA

My “come to Jesus” moment happened at the book launch of Black. Queer. Southern. Women.:  An Oral History on Saturday, November 10 at Charis Books in Atlanta. Charis is one of the oldest feminist bookstores in the country and just happens to be the site of much black lesbian organizing in the South—where the likes of Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, and Pat Parker first read their work or were part of LGBTQ grassroots organizing. Six of the women I interviewed for the BQSW participated on a panel discussion about their experience of being interviewed for the book and about their lives in general. Aida Rentas, the octogenarian from Puerto Rico; Pat and Cherry Hussain, Mary Anne Adams, and Darlene Hudson from Atlanta; and, Michelle Wright from Winston Salem, NC, all had the audience of over one hundred people smashed in the tiny bookstore, spellbound as they, one by one, shared their stories about how, at first, they were suspicious of my motives for collecting their stories, to warming up to me, to being honored to be included in the book. For Cherry Hussain and Michelle Wright, in particular, this occasion proved very emotional, as they both recounted how important it was for them to share their stories of sexual abuse to the world with the hope that their stories might save lives.

Continue Reading E. Patrick Johnson: Black. Queer. Southern. Women.

Nina Silber: The Lost Cause in the New Deal Era

This War Ain't Over by Nina SilberToday we welcome a guest post from Nina Silber, author of This War Ain’t Over:  Fighting the Civil War in New Deal America, just published by UNC Press.

The New Deal era witnessed a surprising surge in popular engagement with the history and memory of the Civil War era. From the omnipresent book and film Gone with the Wind and the scores of popular theater productions to Aaron Copeland’s “A Lincoln Portrait,” it was hard to miss America’s fascination with the war in the 1930s and 1940s. Nina Silber deftly examines the often conflicting and politically contentious ways in which Americans remembered the Civil War era during the years of the Depression, the New Deal, and World War II. In doing so, she reveals how the debates and events of that earlier period resonated so profoundly with New Deal rhetoric about state power, emerging civil rights activism, labor organizing and trade unionism, and popular culture in wartime.

This War Ain’t Over is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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The Lost Cause in the New Deal Era

The Lost Cause, that fantastical story white Southerners have long told about their antebellum and Civil War past, has received more than its share of historical scrutiny.  What tends to get less notice is how the Lost Cause has adapted to suit different historical circumstances. During the 1930s and 40s, the Lost Cause morphed in noteworthy ways, especially as memory of the war became more untethered from first-person experiences and as new memory-makers felt less constraint about prodding the war’s memory into something that fit their present-day purposes.

During the 1930s, membership in the nation’s premier Lost Cause organization, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, declined significantly but the group still found ways to shift its influence to new and somewhat unexpected venues. Hollywood producers, for example, sometimes adopted the UDC’s stamp of approval to market films to audiences across the South. The organization also pursued partnerships with Roosevelt’s New Deal, including collaborations with the CCC and the WPA, which provided funding for UDC pet projects.  Additionally, UDC members got jobs as writers and state directors for the Federal Writers Project, giving Daughters positions as interviewers and editors in the ex-slave oral history project and a chance to inject their nostalgia for the kindly relations of slavery into an official historical record.  In 1936 the WPA’s Federal Theater Project staged its first production in New York’s Times Square with a play, fully vetted by the UDC, on the life and times of the Confederacy’s one and only president. Apparently not content with one Jefferson Davis play, the UDC also pitched a musical pageant on the Jefferson Davis National Highway for consideration by the Federal Theatre.

Continue Reading Nina Silber: The Lost Cause in the New Deal Era

It’s the Holiday Season 2018 — and time for the annual UNC Press Holiday Gift Books sale!

UNC Press Holiday Gift Books Sale

Our annual Holiday Gift Books sale is going on now!  You can save 40 percent on all UNC Press print books.  And, if your order totals $75 or more, the domestic shipping is free!

Save on great gift books for everyone on your list — cookbooks, illustrated books, guidebooks, ground-breaking (and award-winning) books in history, religion, etc — truly something for everyone.  Browse our site and find lots of great gifts (and even some for yourself, too).

Use promo code 01HOLIDAY at checkout to see your discount.  Order by December 7 for delivery before December 24th.

Here’s a small sample of what you’ll find — and happy holidays!  Click here to start shopping!

Campaign of Giants, The Battle for Petersburg, Volume 1Blackbeard's Sunken PrizeEdna LewisDistilling the South: A Guide to Southern Craft Liquors and the People Who Make Them by Kathleen Purvis Pie: A Savor the South Cookbook by Sara Foster River of Death--The Chickamauga Campaign: Volume 1: The Fall of Chattanooga Carolina Catch by Debbie MooseCity of a Million Dreams by Jason Berry Stone Free by Jas Obrecht

Samira K. Mehta: Beyond Chrismukkah

Beyond Chrismukkah: The Christian-Jewish Interfaith Family in the United StatesToday is the first day of Hanukkah, and we welcome a post from Samira K. Mehta, author of Beyond Chrismukkah:  The Christian-Jewish Interfaith Family in the United States, published by UNC Press.

The rate of interfaith marriage in the United States has risen so radically since the sixties that it is difficult to recall how taboo the practice once was. How is this development understood and regarded by Americans generally, and what does it tell us about the nation’s religious life? Drawing on ethnographic and historical sources, Samira K. Mehta provides a fascinating analysis of wives, husbands, children, and their extended families in interfaith homes; religious leaders; and the social and cultural milieu surrounding mixed marriages among Jews, Catholics, and Protestants.

Beyond Chrismukkah is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Beyond Chrismukkah

I was sitting in the kitchen with an interfaith couple. She is Mormon, he is Jewish. They were explaining their approach to their two traditions. Their children attend preschool at the JCC and Sunday School in the local Mormon ward. They have Shabbat dinner as a family, they go to synagogue as a family, and they go to Mormon worship services together. They also celebrate their holidays together. The Jewish spouse explained that he had an “allergy” to Christmas trees, particularly a tree in his own home. The tree was not of central importance to her—she was happy to avoid the commercialism of Christmas, and so they had no tree. She did, however, want the day to celebrate the promise in Christ’s birth, and so they had a crèche on their mantel throughout the holiday season.

Why could Jewish husband accept a nativity scene but found a Christmas tree to be an unacceptable Christian incursion into his home?

The Christmas tree, as it turns out, is a particularly fraught symbol for interfaith families—one that they have confronted year after year.

It is not just about the tree, of course.  Objections to interfaith marriage follow two main arguments.  Among Jews, a longstanding worry suspects that interfaith marriages will pull Jews, and their interfaith children, away from Judaism. The second, which applies beyond the Jews and Christians, objection stems from the belief that intermarriage undercuts marital happiness and leads to divorce.

The truth is more complicated–and more hopeful.  Instead of conflict, negotiating the Christmas tree can create something that benefits all families: an occasion to discuss what they really value.

Though the Christmas tree dilemma features Christians and Jews, the issue increasingly touches Americans of all traditions.  Since 2010, almost 40 percent of Americans have married across religious lines of some sort or another. These families have to decide how (or whether) to continue celebrating the holidays that each of them cherish, and which practices and traditions will have a place in their homes.

Continue Reading Samira K. Mehta: Beyond Chrismukkah

Michael E. Staub: Ghosts of Bell Curves Past

The Mismeasure of Minds by Michael E. StaubToday we welcome a guest post from Michael E. Staub, author of The Mismeasure of Minds:  Debating Race and Intelligence between Brown and The Bell Curve, just published by UNC Press.

The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision required desegregation of America’s schools, but it also set in motion an agonizing multi-decade debate over race, class, and IQ. In this innovative book, Michael E. Staub investigates neuropsychological studies published between Brown and the controversial 1994 book, The Bell Curve. In doing so, he illuminates how we came to view race and intelligence today.

The Mismeasure of Minds is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Ghosts of Bell Curves Past

It is an anniversary unlikely to prompt much celebration: The Bell Curve turns 25 in 2019. Published in the early autumn of 1994, and co-authored by psychologist Richard Herrnstein (who died the same month the book appeared) and political scientist Charles Murray, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, swiftly took America by storm. The book – no light read by any stretch – leaped into the best-seller list, selling 400,000 copies in its first two months after publication. Just as significant was that the book received the sort of wall-to-wall coverage publicists only dream about, even as it provoked (also helpfully, at least for marketing) the most contentious of cultural controversies. Not since Daniel Moynihan published his report on the black family close to a generation earlier had the country seen such an embittered dispute over how and why poverty was so deeply racialized in America.

The Bell Curve is remembered – and reviled – for a key set of interwoven propositions: that intelligence tests provide an excellent means of cognitive assessment; that IQ tests are not biased against minorities; that differences in IQ do exist within racial or ethnic groups, but also that differences in IQ exist between racial and ethnic groups; that these group differences in intelligence were likely due far more to “genetics” and much less to “environment”; and that the average IQ for white people was 100, while the average IQ for African Americans was 85. The Bell Curve also – and just as perniciously – proposed that “racial differences in intelligence” had tremendous consequences for public policy. The book argued that it was an error to invest so heavily in compensatory educational programs for low-achieving students, since these students were unlikely to benefit meaningfully from these expenditures. It was not, Herrnstein and Murray maintained, that a high IQ guaranteed success in life, or that a low IQ preordained defeat. Rather it was that there existed a strong correlation between one’s IQ and one’s rung on the socioeconomic ladder. Therefore U.S. society had evolved, “naturally,” it might be said, into a hereditary meritocracy. According to The Bell Curve, policy makers and educational reformers had to come to grips with the consequences of this scientific truth.

Continue Reading Michael E. Staub: Ghosts of Bell Curves Past

Max Felker-Kantor: Resisting Police Power: The Roots of Anti-Police Abuse Movements in Los Angeles

Policing Los Angeles by Max Felker-Kantor Today we welcome a guest post from Max Felker-Kantor, author of Policing Los Angeles:  Race, Resistance, and the Rise of the LAPD, just published by UNC Press.

Felker-Kantor narrates the dynamic history of policing, anti-police abuse movements, race, and politics in Los Angeles from the 1965 Watts uprising to the 1992 Los Angeles rebellion. Using the explosions of two large-scale uprisings in Los Angeles as bookends, he highlights the racism at the heart of the city’s expansive police power through a range of previously unused and rare archival sources. His book is a gripping and timely account of the transformation in police power, the convergence of interests in support of law and order policies, and African American and Mexican American resistance to police violence after the Watts uprising.

Policing Los Angeles is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Resisting Police Power: The Roots of Anti-Police Abuse Movements in Los Angeles

In recent years, anti-police abuse activists have struggled to combat state-sanctioned police violence directed at communities of color. Through the use of social media and cellphone video recordings, activists, many associated with the #BlackLivesMatter movement, have shed light on the near-weekly episodes of police violence experienced by people of color. While contemporary anti-police abuse activism represents a new era of protest, these movements also reflect a long history of resistance to police abuse and demands for an end to racially disparate police practices in American cities.

In researching and writing Policing Los Angeles: Race, Resistance, and the Rise of the LAPD, I followed a rich history of activists and residents of color who routinely challenged the discriminatory practices of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) during the latter half of the twentieth century. Residents and activists of color in Los Angeles routinely demanded greater civilian oversight of the police in hopes of making the department more accountable to the people it served.

Sparked by an episode of police abuse, the 1965 Watts uprising confirmed the criticisms of the LAPD made by many African American and Mexican American activists throughout the post-war period. Residents and activists used the crisis of policing created by Watts to push for changes in how the LAPD policed communities of color. The uprising also mobilized a renewed anti-police abuse movement in Los Angeles. Through groups such as the Black Panthers and Brown Berets, African Americans and Mexican Americans organized not only to expose police violence but also an alternative vision of policing for their communities.

Continue Reading Max Felker-Kantor: Resisting Police Power: The Roots of Anti-Police Abuse Movements in Los Angeles

Nina Silber: ‘Slavery’ in Depression Era America

This War Ain't Over by Nina SilberToday we welcome a guest post from Nina Silber, author of This War Ain’t Over:  Fighting the Civil War in New Deal America, just published by UNC Press.

The New Deal era witnessed a surprising surge in popular engagement with the history and memory of the Civil War era. From the omnipresent book and film Gone with the Wind and the scores of popular theater productions to Aaron Copeland’s “A Lincoln Portrait,” it was hard to miss America’s fascination with the war in the 1930s and 1940s. Nina Silber deftly examines the often conflicting and politically contentious ways in which Americans remembered the Civil War era during the years of the Depression, the New Deal, and World War II. In doing so, she reveals how the debates and events of that earlier period resonated so profoundly with New Deal rhetoric about state power, emerging civil rights activism, labor organizing and trade unionism, and popular culture in wartime.

This War Ain’t Over is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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‘Slavery’ in Depression Era America

Despite its historical remoteness, the US Civil War continues to stand as a critical marker for Americans today. We see it in the red state/blue state maps that ominously bear the imprint of the Union and Confederate divide.  We hear it in the often garbled language of politicians reaching for role models from an earlier era.  And, of course, we are continually made aware of competing memories of the Civil War in persistent debates about Confederate monuments and the Confederate flag.

In the 1930s, the Civil War was also an ever-present touchstone, not so much in discussions about monuments or flags – neither of which received much attention in these years – but as a memory that seemed to shed light on the economic and political struggles of the Depression era and as a culturally vibrant reference point in film, fiction, theater, art, and music. In and around Franklin Roosevelt’s administration, the Civil War analogy was invoked with increasing frequency – with comparisons often made between the crises of the 1860s and the 1930s. “There had never been a time,” observed FDR’s advisor Rexford Tugwell regarding the Great Depression, “the Civil War alone excepted, when our institutions had been in such jeopardy.”  For Tugwell and Roosevelt, the Civil War analogy drove home a critical political point: the current crisis was not something individualized and private – a framework traditionally used for understanding economic calamity – but something national in scope that demanded the kind of active, government involvement used in wartime.  From this premise, it took only a short step to connect Lincoln, and his legacy, to FDR.  The hugely influential Lincoln biographer, Carl Sandburg, gave a subtle rendition of this argument, suggesting that the Civil War president came to office with “a sense of change, of some new deal.”  Democratic Representative Frank Dorsey of Pennsylvania was more explicit.  Noting Lincoln’s outrage over turning “precious human beings” into chattel, he hailed Honest Abe as “the new dealer of the late 1850s and the early 1860’s.”

As Dorsey’s reference suggests, one metaphor used often in these discussions was “slavery”.  Invoked repeatedly, perhaps no term was subject to as many meanings and distortions. During the 1930s it was possible to hear the word slavery used to describe: the exploitation suffered by white factory workers at the hands of profit-hungry owners; the misery experienced by southern farm laborers, white and black, post-Civil War; the subjugation of the entire South at the hands of Yankee exploiters; and, sometimes, the historical experience of black enslavement.  By the end of the 1930s, yet another definition was added: the oppression of those living under the rule of fascist (and sometimes communist) dictators.

Continue Reading Nina Silber: ‘Slavery’ in Depression Era America

It’s Thanksgiving Week — Today’s Recipe: Phoebe’s Sweet Potato Cream Pie from Sara Foster’s Pie: A Savor the South Cookbook (plus a bonus!)

As we enter into the final preparations for Thanksgiving, we’re highlighting delicious recipes from recent UNC Press cookbooks.  Each day this week, our authors bring you their best dishes to help make your holiday special and memorable.

(Plus, since you’re probably at wit’s end by now, we thought you could use a pick-me-up, so we’re offering a bonus recipe, just for the cook.)

Today, it’s —

Pie: A Savor the South Cookbook by Sara FosterPhoebe’s Sweet Potato Cream Pie from Sara Foster’s Pie: A Savor the South Cookbook

At Scratch bakery in Durham, North Carolina, Phoebe Lawless has been turning out pies since 2008. Starting as a one-woman operation at the Durham Farmers’ Market, she now has the bakery and a restaurant, where she whips up everything from Shaker lemon pie to sea salt chocolate crostatas on the sweet side. And on the savory side (my favorite), she makes pigs in a blanket, squash and apple crostatas, turnip and sausage empanadas, and many more flavorful pies, all driven by the seasons. If you’re looking for a good gluten-free crust for other pies, the crust in this recipe is a great option.

Makes one 9-inch pie / Serves 8–10

For the crust
1 1⁄2 cup rolled oats
1⁄4 cup sesame seeds
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3⁄4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the caramel layer
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup water
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling
1 1⁄4 cups milk
1⁄2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
3⁄4 cup granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup cornstarch
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 cup sweet potato purée (see Note)
4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter

For the topping
1 cup heavy cream
1⁄4 cup granulated sugar

For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350°.

Combine the oats, sesame seeds, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to crush the oats. (Do not pulse to a fine dust; the crumbs will have small pieces remaining.)
Add the melted butter and pulse until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Press the mixture evenly on the bottom and up the sides of the pan to form the crust. Freeze or refrigerate for 30 minutes until firm.

Place the pie pan on a rimmed baking sheet on the center rack in the oven to bake just until golden brown, 15–20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

For the caramel layer:
Pour the cream into a heavy-bottomed, non-aluminum saucepan over medium heat and bring to just under a boil, stirring occasionally, to warm the cream. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a separate deep, heavy saucepan-bottomed, combine the sugar, water, and salt. Stir to mix and bring to a boil over medium heat. Continue to boil without stirring, swirling the pan occasionally, until the mixture is amber colored, 5–8 minutes.

Remove the caramel from the heat. Slowly add the cream, pouring it to the side of the pan; it will boil rapidly. When it stops boiling, whisk until smooth and allow to cool. Whisk the caramel periodically as it continues to cool. Once cooled to room temperature, spread in the bottom of the prepared crust and refrigerate until firm.

For the custard layer:
Place the milk in a heavy-bottomed, non-aluminum saucepan over medium heat. Add the vanilla bean and seeds and whisk to mix. To scald the milk, bring to just under a boil, whisking often. The milk will start to bubble around the edges and steam. Remove from the heat and discard the vanilla bean.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, and salt and stir to mix. Add the eggs, egg yolks, and sweet potato purée and whisk until combined. Slowly add about 1 cup of the warm milk mixture, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs. Whisk the egg mixture back into the remaining milk mixture in the saucepan and place back over medium-low heat. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, 3–4 minutes. You want to see a few bubbles begin to rise slowly from the bottom of the pan. Do not let the mixture come to a full boil or cook too long—you will overcook the eggs. The mixture is thick enough when the whisk leaves tracks as you stir. Remove from the heat to stop the cooking process and strain through a mesh strainer into a large bowl. Add the butter and whisk until melted. Place a layer of plastic wrap directly on the custard and set aside to cool slightly.

Once the filling has cooled to room temperature, spread it evenly over the caramel layer and refrigerate the pie until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight.

For the topping:
When ready to serve, place the heavy cream in a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue to beat just to combine. Remove the pie from the refrigerator. Top with the whipped cream, slice, and serve cold or refrigerate until ready to serve.

NOTE:  To make the sweet potato puree, preheat the oven to 400°. Wrap 1 large sweet potato in foil and bake for 50–60 minutes until very soft to the touch. Remove the foil; when cool enough to handle, slip the skin off. Place the sweet potato in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and puree until smooth. One medium-large to large sweet potato makes about 1 cup of puree.

From Pie:  A Savor the South Cookbook,
Copyright © 2018 Sara Foster

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Sara Foster is the owner of Foster’s Market in Durham, North Carolina, and the author of five cookbooks.  Visit her website here.


And now, for your bonus, here’s a recipe for —

Distilling the South: A Guide to Southern Craft Liquors and the People Who Make Them by Kathleen PurvisPitcher of Rum Punch from Distilling the South by Kathleen Purvis

From Regina and Doug Charboneau of Charboneau Distillery and Kings Tavern, Natchez, Mississippi.

Makes 6 to 8 servings, depending on size

1 1/2 cups gold rum, such as Charboneau
1/2 cup frozen limeade concentrate
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
4 cups pineapple juice
1/4 cup grenadine
3 cups water
Lime slices (garnish)

Combine all the ingredients in a pitcher. Stir well. Serve over ice with a lime twist.

From Distilling the South:  A Guide to Southern Craft Liquors and the People Who Make Them by Kathleen Purvis
Copyright © 2018 Kathleen Purvis

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Kathleen Purvis is an award-winning food writer, food editor for the Charlotte Observer, and the author of two cookbooks, Bourbon and Pecans.

It’s Thanksgiving Week — Today’s Recipe: Hot Pecan Country Ham Spread from Southern Snacks by Perre Coleman Magness

As we enter into the final preparations for Thanksgiving, we’re highlighting delicious recipes from recent UNC Press cookbooks.  Each day this week, our authors bring you their best dishes to help make your holiday special and memorable.

Today, it’s —

Southern Snacks by Perre Coleman MagnessHot Pecan Country Ham Spread

This recipe is born from others — I have seen recipes in a slew of community cookbooks for hot pecan dip, and the good southern pecan lover in me has always been intrigued. But those recipes call for dried beef, which I have never used and am not sure you can still buy. It finally occurred to me to give it a try with a southern cooking staple, country ham. The result is creamy and salty and crunchy and downright delicious. This is one of those dishes that make people crowd around the buffet table.

Makes about 3 cups

6 ounces center-cut country ham slices, roughly torn
3 green onions, white and light green parts, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup chopped pecans

Place the country ham, green onions, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until everything is chopped to a rough purée. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the cream cheese, sour cream, and pepper and blend until smooth. Scrape the mixture into a 1-quart baking dish, smoothing the top.

Melt the butter in a small skillet and add the Worcestershire. Stir in the pecans and cook until the pecans are toasted and smell nice and nutty, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Leave the pecans to cool, then sprinkle over the top of the spread. Lightly press the pecans into the surface to adhere. The dip can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days at this point.

When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 350° and cook the dip until warmed through and lightly bubbling. Serve with hearty crackers.

From Southern Snacks:  77 Recipes for Small Bites with Big Flavors by Perre Coleman Magness
Copyright © 2018 Perre Coleman Magness

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Perre Coleman Magness is the author of Pimento Cheese: The Cookbook and The Southern Sympathy Cookbook. You can follow her on Twitter.

It’s Thanksgiving Week — Today’s Recipe: Cornbread, Sage, and “Sausage” Dressing, from The New Vegetarian South by Jennifer Brulé

As we enter into the final preparations for Thanksgiving, we’re highlighting delicious recipes from recent UNC Press cookbooks.  Each day this week, our authors bring you their best dishes to help make your holiday special and memorable.

Today, it’s —

The New Vegetarian South by Jennifer BruleCornbread, Sage, and “Sausage” Dressing, from The New Vegetarian South by Jennifer Brulé

I should have named this “triple corn dressing” because corn is used in three ways: cornbread, corn kernels, and corncob broth. Vegetarian sausage replaces pork sausage, and lots of freshly chopped herbs add more layers of flavor. Keep in mind that cornbread dressing is slightly crumbly, just like cornbread, but I think that makes the dish seem lighter.

Makes 8 servings

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 recipe Cornbread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 7–8 cups)
1 medium red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2–3 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup corn kernels (from 2 ears fresh corn)
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
8 ounces vegetarian breakfast sausage patties (such as Morning Star Farms, Quorn, or Gimme Lean), thawed and crumbled
2 cups Corncob and Leek Broth
2 large eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Grease a 6- to 8-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside.

Spray a rimmed baking tray with nonstick cooking spray and lay in the cornbread cubes. Bake until just dried out, but not colored, about 10 minutes.

While the cornbread cubes are baking, sauté the onions, celery, and corn with 1 tablespoon of the butter in a sauté pan, set over medium heat, for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent and soft. Season with the salt.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.

Pour the baked cornbread cubes into a large mixing bowl, then pour the hot onions, celery, and corn, fresh herbs, and crumbled sausage over the top and gently toss to mix.

Pour the broth, melted butter, and beaten eggs over the top and mix gently. Pile the dressing into a prepared baking dish, cover with aluminum foil or a lid, and bake, covered, for 45 minutes.

Serve warm.

From The New Vegetarian South:  105 Inspired Dishes for Everyone by Jennifer Brulé
Copyright © 2018 The University of North Carolina Press

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Jennifer Brulé is the executive chef and owner of the flexitarian restaurant Davidson Ice House, in Davidson, North Carolina. She is also the author of author of Learn to Cook 25 Southern Classics 3 Ways.  For more, follow her on Twitter, on Instagram, or visit her website.

Bruce B. Lawrence: Celebrating the Fifteenth Anniversary of the Islamic Civilization and Muslim Networks Book Series at UNC Press

Today we welcome a guest post from Bruce B. Lawrence, who is co editor, with Carl W. Ernst, of the Islamic Civilization and Muslim Networks series at UNC Press.  This year marks the Fifteenth Anniversary of the series.  You can find out more about the series and its books here.

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Celebrating the Fifteenth Anniversary of the Islamic Civilization and Muslim Networks Book Series at UNC Press

When Carl Ernst and I were attending a major conference in Kyoto in spring 2017, several Japanese scholars also participating in that conference asked us about the Islamic Civilization and Muslim Networks series (ICMN) at UNC Press. Carl and I explained a bit about the genesis, scope, and goal of ICMN, but we quickly realized that we had just scratched the surface of what could and should be said about this innovative initiative from UNC Press. We later found a more adequate response: we sent each of the universities with which our Japanese hosts were affiliated a full set of all the volumes published to date. Last year there were twenty volumes, now (in late fall 2018) there are twenty-two, with another two imminent, and others on the way.

I hope that this blogpost, which helps to celebrate ICMN’s fifteenth anniversary this year, will provide an interesting read about the series that consistently brings Carl and me—and, we hope, those in the fields of Islamic studies, religious studies, Asian studies, world history, art history, and many other areas as well as types of readers—deep satisfaction and much food for thought.

If the number of twenty-four is remarkable, still more remarkable is the genesis of this series, its ongoing management, and its continued success. Elaine Maisner, UNC Press executive editor and ICMN series sponsoring editor, is the best taskmaster–at once friendly, efficient, and patient. What you’d hope for in an editor. But Elaine was also the progenitor of the ICMN series. It was Elaine who prompted Carl and me to think about this series well before 9/11, and certainly after. It was a time when public attention and academic discourse regarding Islam became both more intense and more fractious. Could it be an opportune moment to launch a series that looked at Muslim networks across space and time? Could it also reckon with the elements–economic and social, religious and political, at home and abroad–that characterize Islamic civilization as part of the newly networked world ushered in by the new millennium but even more by what Manuel Castells labelled the Information Age?

Elaine–and UNC Press–answered YES  to all these queries, and such was her energy and determination that Carl and I signed on, intending to do no more than eavesdrop on Elaine’s efforts as in-house editor, helping her to forge ahead with a high profile list of contributors to this new series.

How wrong we were! Elaine quickly enlisted us to provide names, to propose titles, to pursue leads, to make hard decisions, and, above all, to engage our colleagues and also students to rethink with us what are the missing perspectives, and what might be useful books, on Islamic civilization and Muslim networks.

Continue Reading Bruce B. Lawrence: Celebrating the Fifteenth Anniversary of the Islamic Civilization and Muslim Networks Book Series at UNC Press

Scott L. Matthews: The Most Documented Region

Capturing the South by Scott L. MatthewsToday we welcome a guest post from Scott L. Matthews, author of Capturing the South:  Imagining America’s Most Documented Region, just published by UNC Press.

In this expansive history of documentary work in the South during the twentieth-century, Matthews examines the motivations and methodologies of several pivotal documentarians, including sociologist Howard Odum, photographers Jack Delano and Danny Lyon, and music ethnographer John Cohen. Their work salvaged and celebrated folk cultures threatened by modernization or strived to reveal and reform problems linked to the region’s racial caste system and exploitative agricultural economy.

Capturing the South is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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The Most Documented Region

The American South continues to possess the documentary imagination. It lures and inspires photographers, filmmakers, folklorists, and ethnographers as much today as it did during the twentieth century when Walker Evans, James Agee, Margaret Bourke-White, Zora Neale Hurston, Alan Lomax and many others created iconic images, descriptions, and recordings of the region and its people. In the 1940s, sociologists began calling the South America’s “best” and “most documented region” and, unsurprisingly, some scholars think those superlatives still apply. While writing Capturing the South, I tried to keep up with the rush of new field recording collections, films, and photography and travel books that carry on the region’s documentary tradition today. In the work I’ve explored, I’ve been struck by the persistence of subjects and settings (rural cultures and poverty) that dominated twentieth-century documentaries but also the insistence of young documentarians to shatter calcified representations of the region.

RaMell Ross’s heralded 2018 documentary film, Hale County This Morning This Evening, provides a compelling example of this tension. Unfortunately for Ross, his film’s setting and title make comparisons with the work of photographer William Christenberry and, especially, James Agee, Walker Evans and their collaborative book from 1941, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, inevitable. As I explain in Chapter Five of Capturing the South, the work of those documentarians, and the flood of follow-up studies and rephotography projects it inspired, transformed Hale County into a hallowed American place, a mecca for writers, photographers, and filmmakers enthralled by the incantatory power of Agee’s prose and the lyricism of Evans and Christenberry’s photographs. Their portrayal of Hale County, however, evoked the aesthetics of the white rural poor and vernacular architecture; the area’s black people, nearly two-thirds of the county’s population, loomed mostly beyond the margins and borders of their work.

Continue Reading Scott L. Matthews: The Most Documented Region

In Memory of Dale Volberg Reed

Reed, Reed, and McKinney

John Shelton Reed, Dale Volberg Reed and William McKinney, authors of Holy Smoke

In memory of Dale Volberg Reed, who passed away in October, we are reprinting this 2008 interview with her and her co-authors of Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue, John Shelton Reed and William McKinney.

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Q: How did two Tennesseans (John and Dale) and a South Carolinian (William) get the nerve to write a book about North Carolina barbecue? What qualifies you to write on the topic?

Dale: Well, John and I are originally from just over the line in Tennessee and we’ve lived in North Carolina since 1969—and I was at Duke before that. But you’re right: we’re not Tar Heels born and Tar Heels bred. As we say in the introduction to the book, we’re converts to North Carolina barbecue, but like many converts we can be more Catholic than the Pope. Because we didn’t grow up with it, we don’t take North Carolina barbecue for granted.

John: We also argue—I don’t know how successfully—that our origins give us some measure of impartiality in the Eastern Piedmont, tomato vs. no-tomato, whole-hog vs. shoulder wars. It’s not our heritage that’s at stake.

William: On the South Carolina front, I’ll freely admit to being fond of mustard-based barbecue—really fond of it. But the intensity of interest in barbecue and respect for it that you find in North Carolina doesn’t exist where I come from. Good barbecue places in South Carolina will carry Eastern-style sauce, but North Carolina shops don’t need mustard-based sauce. In fact, it would be weird if you found it in a North Carolina barbecue joint.

Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue, by John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg ReedQ: How is Holy Smoke organized?

John: You could call it Trinitarian. The first part is history (starting with the Iliad—no kidding) and what you might call “lore.” We talk about the role of barbecue and barbecues in the life of the state, and the rise of barbecue restaurants in the twentieth century. The second part of the book tells how to cook barbecue at home, and gives the history of the canonical side dishes—slaw, cornbread, Brunswick stew, and other things you’ll find on the menus of North Carolina barbecue places. (We’ve got some good recipes, too.) The last third or so is made up of interviews William did with a dozen or so representative “barbecue men” (and one woman—Debbie Bridges, from Shelby). These are folks who cook barbecue for a living, and they talk about their craft, and their businesses, and their lives. We conclude with a sort of coda about the future of North Carolina barbecue, why it may be an endangered cuisine, and why that matters.

Q: How did this project come to be?

Dale: John and I have admired and cooked from a book called Legends of Texas Barbecue by Robb Walsh ever since we came across it. We were talking one day with David Perry [then editor-in-chief at UNC Press] and found out that he liked it, too. Someone—we don’t remember who—said, “You know, there really needs to be a book like that about North Carolina barbecue.” John and I looked at each other and knew what our next book was going to be. We wrote a proposal for David and the Press bought it.

John: It turned out that we’d been getting ready to write this book for a long time, without knowing it. We’d been eating barbecue all over the state—and, for that matter, out-of-state, from San Francisco to London—for decades. We’d studied Bob Garner’s and Jim Early’s books on North Carolina barbecue—in fact, we had them in our car, and had done things like driving from Chapel Hill to Goldsboro for lunch. I’d been a judge at the Memphis in May barbecue competition and had written about that. I’d spoken about the cultural importance of barbecue at a meeting of the Southern Foodways Alliance, and I’d written a few magazine columns on the subject. We knew enough to know that it would take a whole encyclopedia to deal with barbecue in general, but that it might be barely possible to write a single book about North Carolina. We knew that William had already done those interviews, as a project for the SFA, so we asked him if he’d join us.

Continue Reading In Memory of Dale Volberg Reed