James C. Cobb

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In the 1880s, Southern boosters saw the growth of industry as the only means of escaping the poverty that engulfed the postbellum South. In the long run, however, as James C. Cobb demonstrates in this illuminating book, industrial development left much of the South's poverty unrelieved and often reinforced rather than undermined its conservative social and political philosophy. The exploitation of the South's resources, largely by interests from outside the region, was not only perpetuated but in many ways strengthened as industrialization proceeded. The 20th Century brought increasing competition for industry that favored management over labor and exploitation over protection of the environment. Even as the South blossomed into the "Sunbelt" in the late twentieth century, it is clear, Cobb argues, that the region had been unable to follow the path of development taken by the northern industrialized states, and that even an industrialized South has yet the escape the shadow of its deprived past.

This briskly written volume draws on the best current scholarship to provide a compact synthesis. A thoughtful, well-researched and even provocative in considering why the Southern has persisted as a distinctive region. -- Choice

A good place to begin to understand one of the most significant aspects of the American South. -- Journal of Southern History

Cobb paints a dark canvas, and well he might. . . . A thought-provoking study.. -- Reviews in American History

Cobb argues persuasively that industrialization and progressivism or liberalism have never been synonymous below the Mason and Dixon line. This book, clearly and cogently written may be understood by both scholar and layperson...After reading this account, one will have a broader perspective from which to view Southern society. -- Southern Historian

Stimulating scholarship. -- American Historical Review

Will serve as an excellent review source for students taking courses in twentieth-century American history. -- Journal of Economic History

Cobb's study reflects the complexity of the Southern heritage and its unique interaction with industrialization and provides a useful comparison to the 'traditional' Northern experiences. -- Science, Technology & Society

This sober summary is a useful corrective to boosters and neo-agrarians alike. -- Virginia Quarterly Review

Meets the standards of 'best scholarship.' Readers wanting to understand today's South will find satisfaction in reading it. -- Wall Street Review of Books

Publication Date



University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Industrialization, Southern states, Industrial promotion



Industrialization and Southern Society, 1877-1984
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