Lost Revolutions

The South in the 1950s

By Pete Daniel

392 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 92 illus., notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4848-7
    Published: April 2000
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-9891-8
    Published: November 2000

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Awards & distinctions

2001 Elliott Rudwick Prize, Organization of American Historians

This sweeping work of cultural history explores a time of startling turbulence and change in the South, years that have often been dismissed as placid and dull. In the wake of World War II, southerners anticipated a peaceful and prosperous future, but as Pete Daniel demonstrates, the road into the 1950s took some unexpected turns.

Daniel chronicles the myriad forces that turned the world southerners had known upside down in the postwar period. In chapters that explore such subjects as the civil rights movement, segregation, and school integration; the breakdown of traditional agriculture and the ensuing rural-urban migration; gay and lesbian life; and the emergence of rock 'n' roll music and stock car racing, as well as the triumph of working-class culture, he reveals that the 1950s South was a place with the potential for revolutionary change.

In the end, however, the chance for significant transformation was squandered, Daniel argues. One can only imagine how different southern history might have been if politicians, the press, the clergy, and local leaders had supported democratic reforms that bestowed full citizenship on African Americans--and how little would have been accomplished if a handful of blacks and whites had not taken risks to bring about the changes that did come.

About the Author

Pete Daniel is a curator in the Division of the History of Technology at the National Museum of American History.
For more information about Pete Daniel, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"Daniel is at his best describing the dramatic economic and demographic changes in the post-World War II era and the cultural developments spawned by this upheaval."--American Historical Review

"A vivid portrait of a watershed era."--Arkansas Historical Quarterly

"An unusually eloquent analysis of and poignant lament about the tumultuous decade of the 1950s. Whether discussing the environment, gay and lesbian subcultures, or the crisis in Little Rock, Arkansas, Daniel eschews conventional discussions of the period. . . .What emerges . . . is an empathetic but critical portrait of southerners who, 'before they were divided or tamed,' imagined a different, more inclusive, and more humane South."--Journal of American History

"A pleasure to read."--Teaching History

"In Lost Revolutions, Pete Daniel successfully synthesizes various aspects of southern life during the 1950s into a coherent, accessible, and engaging account of a pivotal period. . . . An excellent account of the South in the 1950s. . . . The clarity of each section makes the book valuable to educated readers looking to learn more about the South and a useful addition to classes in southern studies."--Ethnic & Racial Studies

"This is an innovative analysis of social transformation in the post-World War II South. . . . It is an important and provocative contribution to the social and cultural history of the South. It stands as a forceful statement that regular people are conscious historical actors."--North Carolina Historical Review