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Freedom Summer: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy

Freedom Summer: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy

Written by Bruce Watson

Narrated by David Drummond


Freedom Summer: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy

Written by Bruce Watson

Narrated by David Drummond

ratings:
4.5/5 (4 ratings)
Length:
14 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Jun 16, 2010
ISBN:
9781400187485
Format:
Audiobook

Description

In the summer of 1964, with the civil rights movement stalled, seven hundred college students descended on Mississippi to register black voters, teach in Freedom Schools, and live in sharecroppers' shacks. But by the time their first night in the state had ended, three volunteers were dead, black churches had burned, and America had a new definition of freedom.



This remarkable chapter in American history, the basis for the controversial film Mississippi Burning, is now the subject of Bruce Watson's thoughtful and riveting historical narrative. Using in-depth interviews with participants and residents, Watson brilliantly captures the tottering legacy of Jim Crow in Mississippi and the chaos that brought such national figures as Martin Luther King, Jr., and Pete Seeger to the state. Freedom Summer presents finely rendered portraits of the courageous black citizens and Northern volunteers who refused to be intimidated in their struggle for justice, as well as the white Mississippians who would kill to protect a dying way of life. Few books have provided such an intimate look at race relations during the deadliest days of the civil rights movement.
Publisher:
Released:
Jun 16, 2010
ISBN:
9781400187485
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

The real author of this book, written more than fifty years ago, is my grandfather Edward Henry Gooch (1885-1961) whose faded type-written notes ended up on one of my bookshelves where they gathered dust for years. His passion for tradition and recalling the past had already led him to write “A History of Spalding” and “Place Names of Holland, Lincolnshire” and on reading through his memoirs I realised just how interesting they might be to Spaldonians, historians and other adventurers. His notes were too faint and old-fashioned to be scanned so it was up to me to transcribe them in a labour of love; and how fascinating I found the task! He paints a vivid picture of a forgotten way of life, a life of ease, of loss, of heartbreak, and of adventure; though, strangely enough, he rarely speaks of his personal feelings; it wasn’t the done thing. Who was E.H. Gooch ? Edward Henry Gooch, “Harry” or “Skipper” to his friends, was a Spaldonian gentleman-adventurer and fifth generation fellmonger (dealing in wool and skins.) Born in 1885, he lived through the reign of four monarchs and during the height, and fall, of the British Empire. He was a fervent patriot and his greatest pride was that of being a Lincolnshire man. He was a soldier, fighting in the trenches of the First World War, struggling to get some sleep on the piled up corpses of his fellows with only the rats to keep him warm. He was gassed and returned to civilian life where he had many an adventure as an amateur sailor. He was shipwrecked a number of times. In WWII he did his bit in the Home Guard and then in the “little ships” before returning to fellmongering. He partook fully in municipal affairs. Probably one of the most outspoken men in the district, he was a member of the County Council from 1919 and an alderman from 1935. In 1919, he became a member of Spalding Urban Council and sat until 1927. After an interval of 11 years, he again returned to the Urban Council and, until he retired from that body in 1950, occupied several chairmanships and committees. He was Worshipful Master at the Hundred of Elloe Lodge of Freemasons. A largely self-taught scholar, Ald. Gooch was well-known as the local historian and writer. His memoirs are presented here by his grandson, Bruce Watson who lives with his French wife and family in the South of France, where he has published a book of short stories about the French Way of Life called “Life’s not all Wine and Roses” published by Iuniverse and available through W.H.Smiths or Amazon.co.uk (ISBN 0-595-27703-9) It is based on his experiences living in the Tarn, where he first came to work in the wool industry (like Harry Gooch) during the 1968 revolution. For the last 30 years he has been teaching and interpreting for industry and the police.



Reviews

What people think about Freedom Summer

4.5
4 ratings / 4 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    Despite having already read a number of books about the degradations that the South, and Mississippi in particular, have inflicted upon the blacks after the Civil War, I was terribly moved by this book. In essence, this book is about the summer of 1964 in which great efforts were made to allow the blacks of Mississippi to have the same rights of citizenship that white people enjoyed. Rights that one would have thought they had obtained after being freed as slaves a century earlier. I could talk at length about this book's contents, but I'll limit it to just three of many reactions I had while reading it. First, the dynamics of the situation that this book covers are well related to that of the American troops that served in occupied Iraq, constantly dealing with the dangers of the insurgency. Unfortunately for the freedom volunteers in Mississippi, they had similar dangers, but without all the weapons and body armor to protect them. Second, there is a dramatic element to the author's writing that at first bothered me. This is a "history" and historians don't embellish the facts. But then it occurred to me, if one person is beaten to a pulp, shot dead, and chopped into pieces because another person regards the first person as no better than a mongrel dog, does it really step over the line if the writer goes a step further and points out that this might be a bad thing? And third, I don't recall ever reading another book in which each time I picked it up to start reading further, I found myself quickly awash in thoughts about a myriad of issues related to the story and my relationship to those issues. It was like an internal book club discussion being reconvened every new time I started reading. I had to stop myself and just read. And as compelling as my inner thoughts were, the new sections I would be reading were always even more compelling. Finally, even though the book ends with better news about the subsequent state of race relations in Mississippi, it was the day before I finished the book that CNN had a new story about black victims of hit-and-run accidents by whites and of incidents that the white authorities failed to investigate for over three years until CNN started pushing the matter. The reaction from one of the county sheriffs could have been word for word from the sheriffs that abused the freedom volunteers so badly back in 1964.
  • (4/5)
    There is a lot to like about this book. The stories are interesting and compelling (although the narrative structure was sometimes muddy and confusing). I was very interested to read about this chapter in American history that I hadn't been aware of before. I was shocked to realize how recently these things happened, and also to realize that in some cases, attempts at bringing violent perpetrators to justice are still being carried out.This book raised a lot of questions for me about organizing, power and privilege, and the silence of a nation. It was disheartening to read about all of the dirty politics that were used to keep people from participating in "democracy". This is a book that doesn't provide easy answers and the lives within the ambiguity of the movement and it's aftermath. It's an important book.
  • (5/5)
    Excellent both as history and as a gripping story. It is remarkable how many current House and Senate member took part... yet appear to have forgotten the lessons learned.
  • (4/5)
    This is a good book on a very interesting topic. Watson chronicles the summer of 1964, "Freedom Summer," when hundreds of (mostly white) college students journeyed to Mississippi to join up with local black civil rights workers, in an effort to change Mississippi's Jim Crow voting laws. They were met with distrust, hatred, violence of all stripes, and even murder, from the local whites. This is an important, engrossing story. I'm not always sure about Watson's tone, as he has a flare for the melodramatic, and the truth is dramatic enough, especially as told in quotes from those who were there, without extra rhetorical flourishes. The organization of his narrative is sometimes jumbled, as well. While those few stylistic problems keep the book from being "perfect," it is nonetheless a great read, chronicling a time that seems impossibly far away, but was only half a century away from today. Recommended. Four stars.