some strange company andnimplied a heritage that I couldnnever reconcile with my ownnviews of past or present.nThinking Back is a relilection onneach of his published books. SincenWoodward has so often given novelninterpretations to Southern history, henhas been the subject of a great deal ofnprofessional criticism. That criticismnplays a major role in his new book, innwhich he acknowledges that “the subjectsnI chose to write about have usuallynbeen of a controversial nature,” andnconcedes, “Criticism is the life of thentrade in historical ideas and at leastnhalf the fun.”nOne brief passage in Thinking Backnmay give an insight into Woodward’snrevisionist mind. It has to do with hisnbeing offended at the term “Sunbelt”napplied to his native South;nTo begin with meteorologicalnfoundations, the South enjoysnmore inches of rainfall per yearnthan any other region in thencountry. The morenprecipitation, the more cloudsnand the less sun. It could morenappropriately be dubbed thenCloudbelt.nI have no idea why Woodward findsnthis argument convincing. Anyonenwho has spent a summer in the Southnknows perfectly well why it is callednthe Sunbelt. But it does give someninsight into his revisionist thinking.nHaving looked back over his publishednwork, one gets the impression that thenprofessor must lie awake at night tryingnto figure out what commonplace notionnhe can challenge next.nIt is generally conceded that ProfessornWoodward’s most important booknis Origins of the New South (alsonpublished by LSU Press), which coversnthe history of the South from 1877 ton1913; however, his book which hadnthe greatest impact was The StrangenCareer of Jim Crow. This little booknhad its origin in a series of lectures atnthe University of Virginia in the yearn1954, following hard on the heels ofnBrown v. Board of Education. Woodwardnacknowledges that this booknprobably had a wider reading than allnthe rest of his books put together.nThe book contended that racial segregation,nas a legal requirement, wasnnot always part of the South, as manynhave thought. In fact, Jim Crow onlynemerged in the late 1800’s and becamenthoroughly entrenched in the earlynpart of the 20th century. A casualnreader might take away the impressionnthat there was some degree of harmoniousnracial cohabitation betweennwhites and blacks before, say, 1890. Innthe 1950’s, neither advocates nor detractorsnof the civil rights movementncould avoid realizing the implications.nThe Strange Career of Jim Crow helpednto earn Professor Woodward the title ofna historical “presentist,” or a man whonwrites history with a purpose.nWoodward denies the charge andnsees himself as a traditional historian.nIn fact, he has generally avoided quantitativenhistory or psycho-history. Thenbulk of his work has consisted of diggingninto archives, newspapers, andndocuments of the past. Indeed it wasnthis digging that brought him to thenconclusion that the notion of the solid,nunified South of the post-Civil Warnera was largely a myth.nWoodward’s book may not be forneveryone. For those interested in historynand American historiography, it isnan important work and, as Woodwardnrecognizes, unique. It exhibits the vitalitynthat has been characteristic of hisnwriting, and it offers needed insightsninto his career and thinking.nWhy write a book for such a selectivenaudience? Perhaps the book isnultimately a statement of faith. Manynof the historical subjects Woodwardnhas examined in his career, Tom Watson,nLewis H. Blair, and George Fitzhugh,nall had one common trait: Inntheir last years they renounced thencause they had stood for all their lives.nTom Watson, for instance, had been anprogressive-minded leader of the Populistnmovement from the 1880’s on. Andefender of racial equality early in life,nhe became, in the end, a stridentnracist.nAt 78, Woodward may be trying tontell us that he has not reneged, he hasnstayed the course. A liberal he was,nand a liberal he remains. Of coursenliberalism implies more than racialntolerance (otherwise most conservativesnwould be liberals), but that is anquestion he never addresses.nBuddy Matthews is a journalist basednin Dallas.nnnWhy donconservativesnbuy liberalnmagazines forntheir children?nConserve our culture withn§t. Paul’snFamily ^VlagazinenThis children’s magazinenis orthodox, humorous,nchallenging, fun, andnbeautifully illustrated.n(A quarterly for childrennages 9 to 97.)nFinally! A qualitynmagazine for children.nNational Catholic Registern… a well-conceived andnmuch needed Christiannmagazine of quality.nThe Anglican Digestn. . . a journal of Christiannculture for young people.nThe University BookmannSend $10.00 for a one-yearnsubscription to:nSt. Paul’s Family MagazinenPO Box 772X, Ft. Scott, KS 66701n1-800-523-5562 H3nMAY 1987/37n