The War Within

From Victorian to Modernist Thought in the South, 1919-1945

By Daniel Joseph Singal

471 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 15 illus

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4087-0
    Published: October 1982
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-1627-8
    Published: February 2014
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-8410-7
    Published: February 2014

Buy this Book

For Professors:
Free E-Exam Copies

To purchase online via an independent bookstore, visit

Awards & distinctions

1983 Ralph Waldo Emerson Award, Phi Beta Kappa

1983 Francis Butler Simkins Award, Southern Historical Association

The years after World War I saw a different sort of war in the American South, as Modernism began to contest the "New South Creed" for the allegiance of Southern intellectuals. In The War Within, Daniel Joseph Singal examines the struggle between the characteristic culture of twentieth-century America and the South's tenacious blend of Victorianism and the Cavalier myth. He explores the lives and works of historians Ulrich B. Phillips and Broadus Mitchell; novelists Ellen Glasgow, William Faulkner, and Robert Penn Warren; publisher William T. Couch; sociologists Howard Odum, Rupert Vance, Guy Johnson, and Arthur Raper; and Agrarian poets John Crowe Ransom, Donald Davidson, and Allen Tate.

The drama Singal unfolds is as much national as regional in its implications. His sophisticated and original analysis of the complex relationship between these southern writers and their heritage enables him to trace the transition to Modernism with unusual clarity and to address questions of major importance in American intellectual history: How did Modernism come into being? Does it display a fundamental, underlying pattern? What are its essential values, beliefs, and assumptions?

Singal marshals archival and published sources and combines them with oral history interviews to trace this process of change on the levels of both formal thought and individual experience. He uses the interwar South as the locale for a pioneering examination of the momentous change that has affected all of Western culture.

About the Author

Daniel Joseph Singal is assistant professor of history at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He is editor, with John Shelton Reed, of Regionalism and the South: Selected Papers of Rupert Vance.

For more information about Daniel Joseph Singal, visit the Author Page.


"A first-rate piece of work. . . . Soundly researched, carefully constructed and elegantly written. The War Within is a work of broad general interest as well as one of great scholarly importance."--David Donald, New York Times Book Review

"A marvelous book, instantly ranking with or indeed a step ahead of a cluster of fine recent intellectual histories of the modern South. . . . Singal's mind is of the first order, both ranging and penetrating, fully equal to that most difficult of tasks, the writing of intellectual history."--Reviews in American History