The dramatic changes experienced by the South over the past 150 years have challenged deeply rooted values, beliefs, and institutions and shaped the region's complex and tumultuous history. These challenges, and the southern response to them, are the focus of this book. Presenting sixteen essays selected from more than eighty presented at a recent conference on the South, it provides an interpretive re-examination of five major topics in southern history. These are the impact of Reconstruction, the development of racial attitudes, the debate over secession, southern economic development, and the use of literature as an instrument of self-criticism and analysis. The first chapter surveys interpretations of the Reconstruction era and analyzes it in terms of the extended historical process of adjusting to the end of slavery. Several essays trace some of the ways in which racial attitudes have affected the evolution of southern society from the colonial era to the present. Among the topics considered are the defense and support of slavery by the southern religious establishment, the impact of African-American culture on the early Ku Klux Klan, the experience of desegregation, and the stereotyping of blacks. Addressing the question of secession, the next group of essays examines the varying responses to the issue in different southern counties and states. Chapters on southern economic development discuss women's roles in the colonial agricultural economy, postbellum developments in agricultural labor, and the lives of two individualistic southern entrepreneurs. The final chapters examine the efforts of southern writers to understand the southern experience and to "tell the story" of theSouth in fiction and popular history. Including the contributions of many leading historians, this work offers fascinating new data as well as significant reinterpretations in several major areas of southern historical scholarship. It will appeal to scholars, students, and other readers concerned with southern, African-American, and U.S. history.