Advance Praise for Hanging Bridge
Simultaneously harrowing and mesmerizing, Hanging Bridge is a powerful indictment of the forces and events that have tarnished this country and disfigured the lives of millions. In Jason Ward’s very skilled hands, it demonstrates how an unremarkable bridge down a lonely country road can embody all the horrors of the American Century. But this is not just a story about a site of racial terror in a deeply Southern place, it is a graceful contemplation of who we are as a nation and how our triumphant and tragic moments intertwine.
Jonathan Holloway, Dean of Yale College, Edmund S. Morgan Professor of History and African American Studies, author of Jim Crow Wisdom
Jason Morgan Ward delves deep into the violent heart of one rural county in Mississippi to tell a powerful and provocative story. Two lynchings, six victims, and generations of terror, trauma, and lies—this book excavates key truths about the politics and culture of white supremacy, as the ever-present threat of murder evolved into subtler attacks on African Americans. Hanging Bridge tells a ghost story that continues to haunt us—absolutely unforgettable.
Daniel Sharfstein, author of The Invisible Line: A Secret History of Race in America
Hanging Bridge is a beautifully written, harrowing story of America’s bloody history of racial violence and the long African American struggle for freedom. The horrific crimes committed on a lonely bridge in Shubuta, Mississippi will haunt America until we come to terms with our past—a past that is more terrible and less hopeful than many realize.
Danielle McGuire, author of At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape and Resistance–a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power
Jason Ward has written a compelling account of racist atrocities in an obscure Mississippi county in the early twentieth century, reminding us once again that for many white Americans, black lives have never mattered. But this is also the story of local people coming to grips with this legacy of terror, overcoming it, and demanding their freedom. Hanging Bridge, then, is both a sobering and inspiring book, solidly researched and beautifully written.
John Dittmer, author of Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi
With insight and eloquence, and in the best tradition of civil rights scholarship, Jason Ward locates in a remote Southern hamlet the exposed roots of our long history of racial intolerance.
Philip Dray, author of At The Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America
Media Coverage and Reviews
It is a compelling work of scholarship, the kind of work that should be required reading in our high schools.
A thoughtful historical study of the entrenched symbolism of a dreaded bridge in Mississippi, a landmark that ‘fixed attention on Jim Crow’s brutal excesses and unresolved legacies.
Praise for Defending White Democracy
This ambitious book will appeal to both specialists and general readers. . . . Ward’s unique contribution is his outstanding synthesis of . . . earlier studies, which, combined with his own original research and fresh interpretations, makes Defending White Democracy now the single best source for understanding the white South’s long resistance to civil rights.
Journal of Southern History
Complementing studies by Joseph Crespino and Kevin Kruse, Ward persuasively demonstrates that for nearly three decades segregationist strategies for defending Jim Crow were broad ranging, contradictory, experimental, and contested.
American Historical Review
Defending White Democracy is a welcome addition to a growing body of work on segregationist responses to civil rights efforts and the rise of conservatism after the civil rights era. Especially impressive is Ward’s discussion of the World War II era, in which he depicts a movement mutually constituted by political elites and their constituents.
Journal of American History
Ward reveals the critical historical continuities in Southern racial politics . . . [and] meticulously records how the proponents on one side of the struggle over civil rights rallied against social currents that they ultimately could not stop. . . .Defending White Democracy is well researched but the author’s strength is in historical interpretation.
Review of Politics
Jason Morgan Ward’s excellent study of white resistance to the fight for racial equality, Defending White Democracy, convincingly describes essential (and underappreciated) aspects of 20th-century civil rights efforts. . . . Ward’s fine survey includes a discernible subtext. Issues that rattled the masses in yesteryear don’t disappear entirely; they merely take on new form.
Charleston Post and Courier
Ward reveals that movement to defend segregation was in force long before the years we think of as the Civil Rights era. . . . [While] recent scholarship has explored the long history of resistance to African-American equality . . .Defending White Democracy goes much further, showing how deeply entrenched this opposition was.”
Jordan Michael Smith, DoubleThink Online