Mockingbird Song

Ecological Landscapes of the South

By Jack Temple Kirby

384 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 29 illus., 5 maps, notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5922-3
    Published: September 2008
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-7660-2
    Published: November 2009
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7951-6
    Published: November 2009

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Awards & distinctions

2007 Bancroft Prize, Columbia University

2007 Bennett H. Wall Award, Southern Historical Association

The American South is generally warmer, wetter, weedier, snakier, and more insect infested and disease prone than other regions of the country. It is alluring to the scientifically and poetically minded alike. With Mockingbird Song, Jack Temple Kirby offers a personal and passionate recounting of the centuries-old human-nature relationship in the South. Exhibiting violent cycles of growth, abandonment, dereliction, resettlement, and reconfiguration, this relationship, Kirby suggests, has the sometimes melodious, sometimes cacophonous vocalizations of the region's emblematic avian, the mockingbird.

In a narrative voice marked by the intimacy and enthusiasm of a storyteller, Kirby explores all of the South's peoples and their landscapes--how humans have used, yielded, or manipulated varying environments and how they have treated forests, water, and animals. Citing history, literature, and cinematic portrayals along the way, Kirby also relates how southerners have thought about their part of Earth--as a source of both sustenance and delight.

About the Author

Jack Temple Kirby is W. E. Smith Professor Emeritus of History at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and currently lives on Anastasia Island in Florida. He is author or editor of eight books, including Rural Worlds Lost: The American South, 1920-1960 and Poquosin: A Study of Rural Landscape and Society (from the University of North Carolina Press).

For more information about Jack Temple Kirby, visit the Author Page.


"Kirby uses a multidisciplinary approach employing information . . . from such diverse fields as agronomy, archaeology, geology, sociology, and even literature to enhance his rich knowledge of southern history in order to enlighten readers about these important, relevant issues. Highly recommended."--Choice

"[A] brilliant exploration of plants, animals, and people. . . . Mockingird Song has a rousing vitality that makes it destined to be a classic work of environmental history."--Journal of Southern History

"A grand synthesis with perfect timing. It summarizes, appreciates, and expands on the recent bloom of scholarship that looks at the unique environmental history of the American South."--Journal of American History

"Not only represents a commendable distillation of decades of scholarship but introduces important new topics and approaches for the maturing field of southern environmental history."--American Historical Review

"Makes many of the central themes of current scholarship in the field accessible to a general readership. . . . An amiable, entertaining, and pleasantly unpredictable guide to the South."--Canadian Journal of History

"Kirby's imaginative, interdisciplinary book is a passionate recounting of the centuries-old relationship between the human and nature in the South"--Rocky Mount Telegram