Forty years ago, James Meredith tried to integrate the University of Mississippi, and ignited an armed white rebellion in the nation’s heartland. This riveting book re-creates the day the country went to war against itself.
An American Insurrection is the true story of the worst constitutional crisis since the Civil War and a major turning point in American history. It takes readers into the eye of the chaotic and ferocious white uprising that occurred when air force veteran James Meredith tried to become the first black student to register at the University of Mississippi, only to be physically blocked by radical segregationist Governor Ross Barnett, hundreds of state police, and thousands of student and civilian “volunteers” from across the South. The revolt climaxed in a fourteen-hour battle and the lightning invasion of the state by 30,000 combat troops ordered in by President John F. Kennedy.
Based on years of intensive research, including more than 500 interviews with witnesses and key players in the drama, recently unsealed FBI files, and on JFK’s Oval Office and Cabinet Room tapes recorded during the crisis, An American Insurrection unearths the unsung heroes–and more than a few villains–of a dark and violent event that has remained buried in the historical shadows until now. It is the unforgettable account of a governor in rebellion, a president in crisis, soldiers on a perilous mission, a state sliding into civil war, and a battle that crushed forever the Southern strategy of massive resistance. What Black Hawk Down was to the American mission in Somalia, An American Insurrection is destined to become to the epic struggle for civil rights.
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William Doyle, author of Inside the Oval Office, calls the forced integration of the University of Mississippi in 1962 "the biggest domestic military crisis of the twentieth century." In An American Insurrection, he delivers a blow-by-blow account of how the school, popularly known as Ole Miss, was opened to black students for the first time. At the center of the tale is James Meredith, a determined but unusual hero gripped by what Doyle calls "an almost messianic vision of destroying the system of white supremacy in Mississippi." Meredith was one of the first black men to serve in the armed forces following its integration, enlisting right out of high school in 1951. He later decided to seek a college education and resolved to get his degree from the all-white precincts of Ole Miss. Through clever plotting and the assistance of a beleaguered civil rights movement, Meredith won admittance to the school, but his troubles had only just begun. Thousands of segregationists descended upon Oxford, Mississippi, to block Meredith from attending class. Their numbers included students, state police, governor Ross Barnett, and an assortment of troublemakers with no real ties to the university. Through it all, Meredith "succeeded in forcing three new allies to his side: the president of the United States, the U.S. Justice Department, and the most powerful military machine in history."
The story recounted in An American Insurrection is inspiring, and Doyle tells it well. It is also fresh, because it has been forgotten in a way other epic civil rights struggles--at Little Rock and Selma, for instance--have not. Meredith never took his place beside Rosa Parks as a celebrated hero of the civil rights movement; its leaders wound up regarding him as something of an annoyance. As Doyle writes, "Meredith maintained a ruthless, jarring intellectual integrity and courage that considered the traditional discussion of civil rights as an insult to him as an American citizen, as invalid, even preposterous." The key word is "jarring": Meredith spent his later years rebuking the NAACP and working for conservative senator Jesse Helms. Admirers of Diane McWhorter's Carry Me Home and other readers interested in the civil rights movement will enjoy An American Insurrection--and nobody will suppress a smile during Doyle's description of graduation day, when Meredith wore one of the red-and- white "Ross Is Right" badges distributed by his foes. It was hidden under his robes, turned upside down. --John MillerFrom the Author:
An American Insurrection was recently selected as a Washington Post "Book World Rave," one of the Best Non-fiction Books of the Year (December 2, 2001.)
Here are some comments from other readers, which appear on the back cover of the book:
"An American Insurrection is a rip-roaring, exciting account of one of the crucial confrontations of the civil rights movement. And, in the shadows, is one of the strangest heroes America has even conjured up."
William S. McFeely, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Grant and Frederick Douglass
"An American Insurrection is a minute-by-minute reconstruction of one of the most frightening confrontations in American history. The book literally kept me reading all night."
Richard Reeves, author of President Kennedy: Profile of Power
"This fast-paced story of civil strife on a colossal scale will astonish those too young to remember the events themselves, and yet is filled with enough fresh and sometimes shocking detail to startle those of us who will never forget them."
Geoffrey C. Ward, author of The Civil War: an Illustrated History and Before the Trumpet: Young Franklin Roosevelt
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Book Description Doubleday. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0385499698 Ships promptly. Bookseller Inventory # Z0385499698ZN
Book Description Doubleday. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0385499698 . Bookseller Inventory # Z0385499698ZN
Book Description Doubleday, 2001. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0385499698
Book Description Doubleday, 2001. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0385499698
Book Description Doubleday, 2001. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110385499698