10 books like Race and the Atlanta Cotton States Exposition of 1895

By Theda Perdue,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Race and the Atlanta Cotton States Exposition of 1895. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Atlanta, 1847-1890

By James Michael Russell,

Book cover of Atlanta, 1847-1890: City Building in the Old South and the New

This book provides an excellent overview of Atlanta’s rise from humble beginnings as a rail hub before the Civil War to a thriving commercial center by the end of the century. Russell argues that the war accelerated Atlanta’s commercial and industrial development, but its path was already set before General William T. Sherman’s army arrived during the Civil War. White business elites dominated city politics until the election of Atlanta’s first Black mayor, Maynard Jackson, in 1973.

Atlanta, 1847-1890

By James Michael Russell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Atlanta, 1847-1890 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Decision in the West

By Albert Castel,

Book cover of Decision in the West: The Atlanta Campaign of 1864

The campaign to capture Atlanta, waged over the summer of 1864, was one of the most decisive events of the entire American Civil War. Historians have argued that Atlanta’s fall, achieved that September, demonstrated to a war-weary North that the Lincoln Administration’s war policies were successful, and that victory was in sight. However, prior to 1992, there was very little coverage of any aspect of the campaign, let alone a narrative history of the full campaign.

Thirty years later, Decision in the West remains the standard work on the Atlanta Campaign. Though Castel’s coverage of individual battles (Resaca, Pickett’s Mill, Kennesaw, Peachtree Creek, the July 22 Battle of Atlanta, etc.) is limited to mostly a command-level discussion of those engagements, his interpretations of the decisions and actions of the three main principals—Sherman for the Federals, Johnston, and Hood for the Confederates—are both fascinating and thought-provoking. The author’s decision to rely…

Decision in the West

By Albert Castel,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Decision in the West as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Following a skirmish on June 28, 1864, a truce is called so the North can remove their dead and wounded. For two hours, Yankees and Rebels mingle, with some of the latter even assisting the former in their grisly work. Newspapers are exchanged. Northern coffee is swapped for Southern tobacco. Yanks crowd around two Rebel generals, soliciting and obtaining autographs.
As they part, a Confederate calls to a Yankee, "I hope to miss you, Yank, if I happen to shoot in your direction." "May I, never hit you Johnny if we fight again," comes the reply.

The reprieve is short.…


Secret Yankees

By Thomas G. Dyer,

Book cover of Secret Yankees: The Union Circle in Confederate Atlanta

Founded as a rail center in the 1830s, Atlanta was dependent on commercial ties with the North which explains the city’s Unionism before the Civil War. In the pivotal election of 1860 where Lincoln carried the northern states and a “southern rights” candidate carried the deep South, Atlantans voted overwhelmingly for Unionist candidates John Bell and Stephen A. Douglas. Although their numbers diminished after secession, a small cadre of Unionists remained in the city during the war, including Cyrena Stone, whose secret (and fascinating) diary is both a major source for and an appendix in this book.

Secret Yankees

By Thomas G. Dyer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Secret Yankees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During the American Civil War, a small group of Unionists found themselves trapped in the largest Southern city between Richmond and New Orleans. Atlanta was a Confederate bastion. The military ruled, and it brooked little dissent. But, as this work demonstrates, the Confederate military hadn't reckoned on Cyrena Stone. A Vermont native, Cyrena moved to Atlanta with her husband, Amherst, in 1854. After war broke out Amherst escaped to the North, but Cyrena remained behind. Hiding her small Union flag in her sugar bowl, suppressing but not moderating her well-known pro-Northern views, she belonged to a secret circle of Unionists…


Atlanta, Cradle of the New South

By William A. Link,

Book cover of Atlanta, Cradle of the New South: Race and Remembering in the Civil War's Aftermath

This book looks at Atlanta’s role in the emergence of a “New South” and the way that journalist and civic leader Henry Grady used the story of Atlanta’s wartime burning and destruction and its postwar rebuilding to rebrand the city. While supporting segregation in the South, Grady urged northern Whites to invest in the New South economy and denied that the region had a race problem. Black Atlantans presented an alternate narrative, one that emphasized the war as a first step in the fight for freedom and equality. The Atlanta Race Riot of 1906 left Grady’s New South concept “tattered and frayed”; the term was seldom used after that.

Atlanta, Cradle of the New South

By William A. Link,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Atlanta, Cradle of the New South as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After conquering Atlanta in the summer of 1864 and occupying it for two months, Union forces laid waste to the city in November. William T. Sherman's invasion was a pivotal moment in the history of the South and Atlanta's rebuilding over the following fifty years came to represent the contested meaning of the Civil War itself. The war's aftermath brought contentious transition from Old South to New for whites and African Americans alike. Historian William Link argues that this struggle defined the broader meaning of the Civil War in the modern South, with no place embodying the region's past and…


Leaving Atlanta

By Tayari Jones,

Book cover of Leaving Atlanta

I have loved Black literature written in Southern AAVE since reading Charles Chesnutt’s The Conjure Woman in graduate school. But perhaps what I love most about the narrator, Octavia (also known as Sweet Pea), is that she’s fluent in many languages: the language of the hood where she lives, of the classroom where she excels, and of the playground, where her poverty is often a cause for ridicule, but where her sassy, outspoken nature is treated with grudging respect. Early 1980s Atlanta is an unsafe place for children: drugs, gangs, and the Atlanta Child Murders are threatening their very existence, and like many of the stories on my list, Octavia’s triptych also ends with a departure. However, her wit and savvy make clear that, wherever she lands, she’s going to be alright. 

Leaving Atlanta

By Tayari Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Leaving Atlanta as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the summer of 1979 black children were disappearing from the streets of Atlanta. By the time this heinous killing spree was over, 29 children were dead. This haunting menace provides a powerful backdrop to the stories of three young children fighting the painful everyday battle of adolescence. Tasha, Rodney and Octavia each has a unique voice and story and each is struggling to find a path through the turmoil. Tasha, who is coping with the separation of her parents, is discovering the first sweet pain of a crush on a tough but tender boy named Jashante from the rough…


White Flight

By Kevin M. Kruse,

Book cover of White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism

The rise of the right was in many ways a southern phenomenon as the Old South transformed into the Sun Belt. White Flight explores how white supremacy and fears over desegregation propelled the conservative movement in Atlanta and on the national stage. As federal initiatives spelled the end for segregation in the 1950s and 1960s, southern whites managed to preserve racial discrimination through more subtle avenues. Whites fled Atlanta’s urban core for its suburbs where they reformed the world of white supremacy, giving birth to new causes such as tax revolts, tuition vouchers, and the privatization of public services.

White Flight

By Kevin M. Kruse,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked White Flight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During the civil rights era, Atlanta thought of itself as "The City Too Busy to Hate," a rare place in the South where the races lived and thrived together. Over the course of the 1960s and 1970s, however, so many whites fled the city for the suburbs that Atlanta earned a new nickname: "The City Too Busy Moving to Hate." In this reappraisal of racial politics in modern America, Kevin Kruse explains the causes and consequences of "white flight" in Atlanta and elsewhere. Seeking to understand segregationists on their own terms, White Flight moves past simple stereotypes to explore the…


The House Next Door

By Anne Rivers Siddons,

Book cover of The House Next Door

This is a significant departure from the notion of a “haunted house” most of us are familiar with. We expect an old house, haunted by the past, far from humankind, and left to rot and fester in isolation somewhere remote. The haunted house in Siddons’s novel, however, is right in the middle of an upper-class neighborhood in Atlanta, and it’s a brand-new build. Rather than being haunted by the ghosts of the past inhabitants, the house itself is a force of evil, corrupting all who cross its threshold in terrible, terrifying, and often deadly ways.

The House Next Door

By Anne Rivers Siddons,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The House Next Door as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An unparalleled picture of that vibrant but dark intersection where the Old and the New South collide.

Thirtysomething Colquitt and Walter Kennedy live in a charming, peaceful suburb of newly bustling Atlanta, Georgia. Life is made up of enjoyable work, long, lazy weekends, and the company of good neighbors. Then, to their shock, construction starts on the vacant lot next door, a wooded hillside they'd believed would always remain undeveloped. Disappointed by their diminished privacy, Colquitt and Walter soon realize something more is wrong with the house next door. Surely the house can’t be haunted, yet it seems to destroy…


Peachtree Road

By Anne Rivers Siddons,

Book cover of Peachtree Road

Peachtree Road is considered a modern-day Gone with The Wind, in that it is set in the pivotal, changing times of 1960’s Atlanta, and concerns the opulent area of Buckhead, where the privileged who built modern-day Atlanta live. The story is narrated in lyrical language by Shep Bondurant, an insightful young man born to privilege, who tells the coming-of-age story of Southern traditions and hypocrisy, and the impact of growing up alongside his troubled cousin, Lucy. A deeply probing story on multiple levels concerning society and the impact of family. 

Peachtree Road

By Anne Rivers Siddons,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Peachtree Road as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A blockbuster of a novel. . . . Peachtree Road is the meaty and absorbing story of a city turned on to power and of the privileged inhabitants who led it to its current station as a mecca of business, culture, and progress. . . . To say this book is potent does not come close to doing it justice. More than merely powerful, it is mesmerizing, enthralling, and totally unforgettable.”  — Chattanooga Free Press

A masterful tale of love, hate, and rebellion set in an elite world of class and wealth, New York Times bestselling author Anne Rivers Siddons's…


And the Dead Shall Rise

By Steve Oney,

Book cover of And the Dead Shall Rise: The Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank

This book is absolutely fascinating to me. When I write, I strive to include painstakingly detailed accounts of the crimes that were never known to the general public, and this book goes into every minute detail regarding the 1913 murder of thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan in Atlanta, Georgia. Mary’s body was discovered in the basement of Atlanta’s National Pencil Factory, and it culminated in the conviction and death sentence of Leo Frank. Frank’s death sentence was commuted, but he was ultimately kidnapped and lynched two months after the commutation.  I considered this a powerful example of investigative journalism with largely unknown details.  It’s a gripping account of a time period in this nation’s history that could best be forgotten.

And the Dead Shall Rise

By Steve Oney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked And the Dead Shall Rise as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On April 27, 1913, the bludgeoned body of thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan was discovered in the basement of Atlanta’s National Pencil Factory. The girl’s murder would be the catalyst for an epic saga that to this day holds a singular place in America’s collective imagination—a saga that would climax in 1915 with the lynching of Leo Frank, the Cornell-educated Jew who was convicted of the murder. The case has been the subject of novels, plays, movies and even musicals, but only now, with the publication of And the Dead Shall Rise, do we have an account that does full justice to…


Daring to Educate

By Yolanda L. Watson, Sheila T. Gregory,

Book cover of Daring to Educate: The Legacy of the Early Spelman College Presidents

Recent concern with intersectionality (instances where categories of race and gender overlap) makes research into Black women’s colleges vital. Founded in 1881 as a Baptist female seminary in Atlanta, Georgia, Spelman College became a leading women’s liberal arts college. The book tracks the impact of four college presidents from the outset to the 1950s. The authors show how the formal academic curriculum, extra-curriculum (college-sponsored activities), and hidden curriculum (informal and even inadvertent influences) instilled an imperative to excel.

Daring to Educate

By Yolanda L. Watson, Sheila T. Gregory,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Daring to Educate as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Presents the history of Spelman's foundation through the tenure of its fourth president, Florence M. Read, in1953. The story is brought up to date by the contributions of Spelman's current president, Beverly Daniel Tatum, and by Johnnetta B. Cole.

The book chronicles how the vision each of these women presidents, and their response to changing social forces, both profoundly shaped Spelman's curriculum and influenced the lives and minds of thousands of young Black women.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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