The State of Jones is a true story about the South during the Civil War, the real South. Not the South that has been mythologized in novels and movies, but an authentic, hardscrabble place where poor men were forced to fight a rich man's war for slavery and cotton. In Jones County, Mississippi, a farmer named Newton Knight led his neighbors, white and black alike, in an insurrection against the Confederacy at the height of the Civil War. Knight's life story mirrors the little-known story of class struggle in the South and it shatters the image of the Confederacy as a unified front against the Union.
This riveting investigative account takes us inside the battle of Corinth, where thousands lost their lives over less than a quarter mile of land, and to the dreadful siege of Vicksburg, presenting a gritty picture of a war in which generals sacrificed thousands through their arrogance and ignorance. Off the battlefield, the Newton Knight story is rich in drama as well. He was a man with two loves: his wife, who was forced to flee her home simply to survive, and an ex-slave named Rachel, who, in effect, became his second wife. It was Rachel who cared for Knight during the war when he was hunted by the Confederates, and, later, when members of the Knight clan sought revenge for the disgrace he had brought upon the family name.
Working hand in hand with John Stauffer, distinguished chair and professor of the History of American Civilization at Harvard University, Sally Jenkins has made the leap from preeminent sportswriter to a historical writer endowed with the accuracy, drive, and passion of Doris Kearns Goodwin. The result is Civil War history at its finest.
©2009 John Stauffer and Sally Jenkins; (P)2009 Random House
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"A must read for Civil War and history buffs"
This was a very interesting story about Southern rebellion, Mississippi natives fighting against the Confederacy that is. The story is well written and interesting.
"Confederate Insurrection-Rebellion against Rebels"
This book recounts the fascinating story of the insurrection against the Confederate States of America led by Newton Knight and his band of Civil War guerillas residing in Jones County, Mississippi. The history leading up to the insurrection, like most such rebellions, is complex, but it relates in large part to a class conflict; Jones County was not a heavily agricultural county and many of its citizens said they didn't want to fight the plantation/slave owners' war for them. Knight was injured during the war and decided to go AWOL, came back to Jones County and caused hell for the Confederate forces.
This was quite a drama, including an illicit love affair between Newt Knight (married at the time it started) and Rachel Knight, a slave of his father, worthy of retelling through historical fiction, be it movie or novel. The two had children together and became common law husband and wife. The drama continued well into the 20th century with a 1948 miscegenation trial for Davis Knight, one of their male descendants who had married a white lady.
I recommend this account as well as "The Free State of Jones: Mississippi's Longest Civil War" by Victoria E. Bynum.
This was a great story and not only did it tell a very interesting story about Jones County, MS, but also the nasty truth about the racism not only during the war, but also before and after.
This is the first history book I have listened to. A very interesting look at reconstruction. I was more interested in the stories of the people than of the war. I had to skip the stories about the war. I am kind of amazed that I had never heard of a county that secedefrom the Confederation.
Interesting story about Newton Knight, his family, the Confederacy, race and Democrats. It sheds light on reasons why the desertion rate was so high due to the disenfranchisement of soldiers and those they left behind. The continuation of atrocities after the war and how Democrats rested control shows the extent of the failure of reconstruction. The story could have ended with the death of NK, but labored on...my only complaint.
I really wanted to like this book as I love Civil War history. I found the story line to be moving from one insignificant area to another. After an hour or two I had yet to hear much about Jones. This book seems to be less about Jones and more about a large family who lived there.
I did like the narrator's voice. It was pleasant to listen to.
"compelling story about the war"
As devastating as the story of the civil war is I was compelled to continue on. The narrator had me hooked on listening for the facts and interested in opinions. When I was in school as a child we never learned about Newton Knight, nor did we learn about southerners that were unionists. I had no interest in American history in college because the pain of poverty and racism is still a part of our country's narrative.
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