Civil War Fires Up Literary ShootoutRoundup: Pop Culture & the Arts ... Movies, Documentaries and Museum Exhibits
History repeats itself. But sometimes it needs a little polishing up from Hollywood.
Over the last few weeks, the writers of a pair of Civil War-era histories about the anti-Confederate inhabitants of Jones County, Miss., have been trading barbs in an unusual public spat. It began when the author of one book, rights to which had been sold to Universal Pictures and the filmmaker Gary Ross, discovered that Mr. Ross had spurred the publication of a new and somewhat sexier work on the same subject.
The encounter has created unexpected bad blood over incidents that occurred — or not — more than 100 years ago. And it offers a glimpse of the way that show business and its values have become entwined with the academic book world and its decision-making process.
On June 23 Doubleday published “The State of Jones: The Small Southern County That Seceded From the Confederacy,” a narrative history by the Harvard scholar John Stauffer and the Washington Post writer Sally Jenkins. The book, which on Monday was ranked No. 83 on Amazon’s best-seller list, presented Newton Knight, the leader of the renegade county, as a morally driven hero in the mold of John Brown — but whose appeal was enhanced by his romance with an ex-slave who, in the book’s account, became the love of his life as relations with his white wife cooled.
In the book’s acknowledgments, the authors thanked Mr. Ross, who they said had brought the idea to their editor, Phyllis Grann at Doubleday, and whose screenplay had served as “our impetus and our inspiration.”
This all came as a surprise to Victoria Bynum, a history professor at Texas State University, San Marcos. Her own book on the subject —“The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War” — had been published eight years earlier by the University of North Carolina Press, which sold the film rights to Universal as material for Mr. Ross’s project in 2007....
comments powered by Disqus
- More Doubts, Opposition To Sale Of Unique, Hartford Collection Of Political History
- How the Curse of Sykes-Picot Still Haunts the Middle East
- Kennewick Man Will Return Home to Native American Tribes
- Now it’s the University of Louisville’s turn to remove a Confederate statue
- A fortress built by Alexander the Great after he conquered Jerusalem has been discovered
- Liz Covart amazingly popular podcast helps her audience understand early American history
- Justus Rosenberg is still teaching at age 95
- Glenda Gilmore chides Yale for deciding to keep the name of Calhoun
- The historian and cartographer Bill Rankin has developed a new way to visualize slavery
- Paula S. Fass says young Americans need required national service