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Many observers say that "the South" has disappeared. Tracy Thompson, a Georgia native, asserts that it has merely drawn on its oldest tradition: an ability to adapt and transform itself.
Thompson spent four years traveling throughout the region and discovered a South both amazingly similar and radically different from the land she knew as a child. African Americans who left en masse for much of the twentieth century are returning in huge numbers, drawn back by a mix of ambition, family ties, and cultural memory. Though Southerners remain more churchgoing than other Americans, the evangelical Protestantism that defined Southern culture up through the 1960s has been torn by bitter ideological schisms. The new South is ahead of others in absorbing waves of Latino immigrants, in rediscovering its agrarian traditions, in seeking racial reconciliation, and in reinventing what it means to have roots in an increasingly rootless global culture.
Drawing on mountains of data, interviews, and a whole new set of historic archives, Thompson paints a heartening, often surprising picture of a region filled with promise and paradoxes--one that is laying a path for the rest of the nation to follow.
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