副标题: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy
Starred Review. In this mesmerizing history, Watson (Sacco and Vanzetti) revisits the blistering summer of 1964 when about 700 volunteers arrived in Mississippi to agitate for civil rights and endured horrific harassment, intimidation, and persecution from racist state and private forces. The largely white, college student volunteers and the largely black trainers and organizers, SNCC veterans of previous campaigns, were fed and sheltered by the impoverished black community members they had come to serve and secure suffrage for. Their path was two-pronged: the Freedom School's challenge to a power structure… that confined Negro education to 'learning to stay in your place' and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party's challenge to Mississippi's all-white delegation to the 1964 Democratic National Convention. Familiar figures (e.g., Lyndon B. Johnson, Stokely Carmichael, Fannie Lou Hamer) take the stage, but Watson's dramatic center belongs to four ordinary volunteers, whose experiences he portrays with resonant detail. The murdered Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner cast shadows over all, haunting Watson's account of how the volunteers, organizers, and the black Mississippians who dared seek political expression lifted and revived the trampled dream of democracy.
Bruce Watson is the author of three books on American history, each illuminating troubled periods when the nation's values were tested.
In his forthcoming "Freedom Summer: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy," Watson captures the turning point summer of 1964 when 700 college students headed for the racial cauldron of Mississippi. On the first day of that summer, three volunteers vanished in central Mississippi. The disappearance of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman sparked national alarm and an exhaustive manhunt. But while the FBI dragged rivers and scoured swamps, Freedom Summer volunteers carried on. Some taught in Freedom Schools, others struggled to register voters. Working with local heroes, they built a human bridge, black and white, across the chasms of Jim Crow, a bridge Watson's book traces from Freedom Summer to the inauguration of Barack Obama. In a starred review, Publisher's Weekly called "Freedom Summer" a "mesmerizing history." The book will be published by Viking on June 10.
Watson's previous book, "Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, The Murders, and The Judgment of Mankind" shed new light on the cause célèbre that tore America apart in the 1920s. "Sacco and Vanzetti" was favorably reviewed in publications ranging from the New York Times ("spirited history") to the New Yorker ("unusually even-handed") to The Nation ("The most thorough and readable plumbing yet of the case record.") The Mystery Writers of America nominated "Sacco and Vanzetti" for its Edgar Award in the category of True Fact/Crime. The Washington Post Book World named "Sacco and Vanzetti" one of its Top 10 non-fiction books of 2007.
Watson's 2005 book "Bread and Roses – Mills, Migrants, and the Struggle for the American Dream," was the first full-length narrative of the notorious "Bread and Roses" textile strike of 1912. The New York Times called Bread and Roses "fast paced, well researched. . . an exciting read." The New York Public Library chose "Bread and Roses" as one of "25 Books to Remember for 2005."
Watson has also written more than three dozen feature articles for Smithsonian on topics ranging from the history of Coney Island to Ferraris and eels. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Yankee, Reader's Digest, and Best American Science and Nature Writing 2003.