John Stauffer and Sally Jenkins Respond

Update: Click here for Victoria Bynum’s third and final installment of her review of The State of Jones

A few days ago I posted a link to Victoria Bynum’s two-part review of the new book, The State of Jones, by John Stauffer and Sally Jenkins.  I did so because of her published work on the subject and a belief that there is no one more qualified to evaluate a new study that professes to add to or alter our interpretation of the relevant issues involved.  I stand by that decision.  That said, historical debate is never static, but is a continual process or dialectic and it is in that spirit that I share this response by Stauffer and Jenkins.

In response to your recent post about The State of Jones:

Debate is one thing; we welcome that-indeed we would be happy to debate Victoria Bynum (or a disinterested scholar) on your blog or any other venue.  It’s quite another thing for Bynum to try to discredit our book, The State of Jones, as part of her effort to trumpet her own book and remain the only source on the subject. We hope to have an equal forum to defend our work and respond to the criticism of it. We wrote the book The State of Jones because the historical record about the Unionist guerilla Newton Knight and Jones County, Mississippi was incomplete, and inaccurate. We spent four years sifting through the evidence and writing with painstaking care for historical context and accuracy, and it was a labor of love and devotion. Our book was commissioned by the legendary publisher Phyllis Grann of Doubleday Books, and it is firmly documented in every respect. You state, citing Victoria Bynum, “there is no evidence” that Jones County seceded from the Confederacy. We will quote directly from the wealth of primary source evidence below.

Continue reading “John Stauffer and Sally Jenkins Respond”

Wrong Cover

State of JonesA couple of days ago a representative of Random House contacted me to see if I might be interested in reviewing a forthcoming book, titled, The State of Jones: The Small Southern County that Seceded From the Confederacy by Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer.  It’s one of the more interesting stories out of Mississippi and is the subject of an excellent book by fellow blogger and historian, Victoria Bynum.  I’m not overly excited about reading another book on the subject, but I do like John Stauffer’s work so I decided give it a look.  It arrived today, and, hopefully I will have the time to read it over the summer.  What struck me upon opening the package, however, is the cover, which shows both the United States and the Confederate States flags prominently displayed.

I can’t help but think that this is a great example of how the marketing to a general audience hasn’t quite kept up to pace with scholarship on the Confederacy and the South during the Civil War.  After all, this isn’t an example of North v. South or United States v. Confederacy, but an internal conflict within the state of Mississippi.  This story reveals a war that challenges our traditional assumptions and tired cliches that assume a monolithic Confederacy and a region committed to “Southern Independence”.

The two flags may fit neatly into our collective memory of the war, but perhaps an image of a fractured Confederate flag might be more appropriate.  Perhaps something even more exotic?  What kind of cover would you design for this book?