The Making of a Southern Democracy

North Carolina Politics from Kerr Scott to Pat McCrory

By Tom Eamon

416 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 6 halftones, 13 maps, appends., notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6331-9
    Published: August 2020
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-0697-2
    Published: January 2014
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-0698-9
    Published: January 2014
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-8056-7
    Published: January 2014

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The story of modern politics in North Carolina is very much one of American democracy, with all its grand ambitions, limitations, and pitfalls. So argues Tom Eamon in his probing narrative of the state's political path since the 1940s. He charts the state's political transformation into a modern democratic society to show that this change was more than an evolution--it was a revolution, one that largely came about through political means, driven by strong movements and individuals working for change.

By tracking the turbulence of politics throughout the period, from racial tensions to student demonstrations to fierce rivalries in the higher education arena, Eamon explores how conflict helped build a better society even as the state continued to lag in many areas. This rich account opens to readers the unforgettable people and hard-fought elections that have shaped North Carolina’s competitive personality and have led to the state’s emergence as a major player in twenty-first-century American politics.

About the Author

Tom Eamon is professor of political science at East Carolina University. He has won numerous teaching awards and written extensively on American politics. Eamon provides political and election commentary for WUNC radio as well as for other outlets.
For more information about Tom Eamon, visit the Author Page.


"The most comprehensive account to date of postwar Tar Heel politics. . . . For anyone interested in North Carolina politics, Eamon's book will be an essential reference."--Rob Christensen, Raleigh News & Observer

“An engagingly written, evenhanded, and thorough survey of North Carolina’s political history since World War II. The book is both a useful introduction for the uninitiated and a valuable resource for political junkies.”--Greensboro News & Record

“An almost-encyclopedic rendering of North Carolina’s events, personalities, and election numbers.”--Journal of American History

“Indispensable for anyone interested in North Carolina politics.”--Jrnl of Southern History

“[An] unforgettable, highly readable analysis of the recent political history of North Carolina. . . . Well written and a wonderful read.”--Journal of the North Carolina Association of Historians

"An intriguing work crisply written as if in real time by a pundit, The Making of a Southern Democracy reflects Eamon's knowledge of and deep devotion to the politics and governance of North Carolina."--Ferrel Guillory, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Multimedia & Links

Listen: Eamon talks to Frank Stasio (and even sings a political jingle) on WUNC's "The State of Things." (1/16/2014, running time 29:37).