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  • Published: 15 February 2004
  • ISBN: 9780375704253
  • Imprint: Vintage USA
  • Format: Paperback
  • RRP: $29.99

Sons Of Mississippi



A Story of Race and Its Legacy

Sons of Mississippi recounts the story of seven white Mississippi lawmen depicted in a horrifically telling 1962 Life magazine photograph—and of the racial intolerance that is their legacy.

In that photograph, which appears on the front of this jacket, the lawmen (six sheriffs and a deputy sheriff) admire a billy club with obvious pleasure, preparing for the unrest they anticipate—and to which they clearly intend to contribute—in the wake of James Meredith’s planned attempt to integrate the University of Mississippi. In finding the stories of these men, Paul Hendrickson gives us an extraordinarily revealing picture of racism in America at that moment. But his ultimate focus is on the part this legacy has played in the lives of their children and grandchildren.

One of them is a grandson—a high school dropout and many times married—who achieves an elegant poignancy in his struggle against the racism to which he sometimes succumbs. One son is a sheriff, as his father was—and in the same town. Another grandson patrols the U.S. border with Mexico—a law enforcement officer like the two generations before him—driven by the beliefs and deeds of his forebears. In all the portraits, we see how the prejudice bequeathed by the fathers has been transformed, or remained untouched, in the sons.

For its sense of fragile hope, Sons of Mississippi is a profoundly important, revelatory work of still-evolving history. A stunning book by a masterful writer.

  • Published: 15 February 2004
  • ISBN: 9780375704253
  • Imprint: Vintage USA
  • Format: Paperback
  • RRP: $29.99

About the author

Paul Hendrickson

PAUL HENDRICKSON is the author of the New York Times bestseller Hemingway's Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, and Sons of Mississippi: A Story of Race and Its Legacy, which won the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award. Since 1998 he has been on the faculty of the creative writing programme at the University of Pennsylvania. For two decades before that, he was a staff writer at The Washington Post.

Among his other books are Looking for the Light: The Hidden Life and Art of Marion Post Wolcott, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and The Living and the Dead: Robert McNamara and Five Lives of a Lost War, a finalist for the National Book Award.

He lives in Washington, D.C., and outside Philadelphia.

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