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No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice

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When it comes to Confederate monuments, there is no common ground. Polarizing debates over their meaning have intensified into legislative maneuvering to preserve the statues, legal battles to remove them, and rowdy crowds taking matters into their own hands. These conflicts have raged for well over a century--but they've never been as intense as they are today. In this ey When it comes to Confederate monuments, there is no common ground. Polarizing debates over their meaning have intensified into legislative maneuvering to preserve the statues, legal battles to remove them, and rowdy crowds taking matters into their own hands. These conflicts have raged for well over a century--but they've never been as intense as they are today. In this eye-opening narrative of the efforts to raise, preserve, protest, and remove Confederate monuments, Karen L. Cox depicts what these statues meant to those who erected them and how a movement arose to force a reckoning. She lucidly shows the forces that drove white southerners to construct beacons of white supremacy, as well as the ways that antimonument sentiment, largely stifled during the Jim Crow era, returned with the civil rights movement and gathered momentum in the decades after the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Monument defenders responded with gerrymandering and heritage laws intended to block efforts to remove these statues, but hard as they worked to preserve the Lost Cause vision of southern history, civil rights activists, Black elected officials, and movements of ordinary people fought harder to take the story back. Timely, accessible, and essential, No Common Ground is the story of the seemingly invincible stone sentinels that are just beginning to fall from their pedestals.


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When it comes to Confederate monuments, there is no common ground. Polarizing debates over their meaning have intensified into legislative maneuvering to preserve the statues, legal battles to remove them, and rowdy crowds taking matters into their own hands. These conflicts have raged for well over a century--but they've never been as intense as they are today. In this ey When it comes to Confederate monuments, there is no common ground. Polarizing debates over their meaning have intensified into legislative maneuvering to preserve the statues, legal battles to remove them, and rowdy crowds taking matters into their own hands. These conflicts have raged for well over a century--but they've never been as intense as they are today. In this eye-opening narrative of the efforts to raise, preserve, protest, and remove Confederate monuments, Karen L. Cox depicts what these statues meant to those who erected them and how a movement arose to force a reckoning. She lucidly shows the forces that drove white southerners to construct beacons of white supremacy, as well as the ways that antimonument sentiment, largely stifled during the Jim Crow era, returned with the civil rights movement and gathered momentum in the decades after the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Monument defenders responded with gerrymandering and heritage laws intended to block efforts to remove these statues, but hard as they worked to preserve the Lost Cause vision of southern history, civil rights activists, Black elected officials, and movements of ordinary people fought harder to take the story back. Timely, accessible, and essential, No Common Ground is the story of the seemingly invincible stone sentinels that are just beginning to fall from their pedestals.

30 review for No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice

  1. 4 out of 5

    Marisa

    Karen L. Cox does a lovely job with this book. Confederate monuments are such a heated topic right now, and Cox excellently breaks down why yes, they ARE racist with ties to white supremacy as well as the white supremacist excuses that are behind wanting to leave them up. Public historians in American history, particularly at sites with painful narratives surrounding slavery, need to read this, and I hope to see more of my peers talking about it. Highly recommend!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gregory Jones

    This book is quite recent, with the epilogue bringing the history of Confederate monuments into the 2020s. The penultimate chapter on the Charleston shooting shows that this is not so much "history" as it is current events. If you are looking for a book to explain "everything going on" regarding race and historical memory in the 21st century United States, look no further than this excellent volume from Karen Cox. The early part of the book gives the historical roots of the Confederacy, settling This book is quite recent, with the epilogue bringing the history of Confederate monuments into the 2020s. The penultimate chapter on the Charleston shooting shows that this is not so much "history" as it is current events. If you are looking for a book to explain "everything going on" regarding race and historical memory in the 21st century United States, look no further than this excellent volume from Karen Cox. The early part of the book gives the historical roots of the Confederacy, settling oft-trodden debates about the purpose of the Confederacy. Cox writes with the certainty of a historical scholar regarding the reasons behind the war and jumps quickly to the lasting memory of the war. The main portion of the book focuses on the construction of monuments and how that process, often led by organizations like the United Daughters of the Confederacy, sought to commemorate and glorify the Confederacy. This point is proven with several examples, using archival analysis and the historian's keen eye for detail. The interconnectedness of Confederate memory and white supremacy is difficult to miss in the book. There are many examples given of lynching, murders, and violence in the name of the "glorious" history of the Confederacy. One of the strengths of the book is that Cox does not conflate "southerness" with neo-Confederate ideology. It is indeed possible to be proud of being southern without glorifying the *Gone with the Wind* mythological past. There's a rootedness to the analysis that always comes back to solid source work that I found refreshing. Far too often this genre of book ends up feeling like more of a political screed than a legitimate work of scholarship. I am happy to report that Cox does an excellent job of supporting the anecdotes and case studies that define the book's arguments. I would recommend this book to anyone teaching a Civil War and Reconstruction class. Further, I would highly recommend it for any undergraduate political science courses. It wrestles well with identity and how generational trends inform worldviews and voting patterns. I would certainly support using this book in a wide range of courses at the graduate level, including Southern History, Civil War Memory, and War and Society courses. This is an excellent, timely, (and I might add succinct) volume on one of the most important historical and political topics of our age.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Brenner Graham

    No Common Ground by Karen L. Cox is the definitive history of Confederate monuments and their surrounding controversies. Cox traces the origins of these monuments, which aim to preserve Confederate power, white supremacy, and the “lost cause” narrative. She builds from their origins through the present, as diverse activists mobilize to resist the “lost cause” myth and its monuments. No Common Ground offers a masterful public-history analysis. Cox unpacks the motives and stories behind these publ No Common Ground by Karen L. Cox is the definitive history of Confederate monuments and their surrounding controversies. Cox traces the origins of these monuments, which aim to preserve Confederate power, white supremacy, and the “lost cause” narrative. She builds from their origins through the present, as diverse activists mobilize to resist the “lost cause” myth and its monuments. No Common Ground offers a masterful public-history analysis. Cox unpacks the motives and stories behind these public displays of a violent historical narrative with a focus on its intended audiences. Confederate monuments idolize a fictitious antebellum utopia and inflict white supremacist terror. Cox adds that related studies in other disciplines such as sociology, as well as microhistories of individual monuments, ought to build on her scholarship.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Charlsa

    I spent most of the book wondering what new ideas Cox was contributing to the conversation of our ongoing reckoning with Confederate monuments, but it seems the author was just setting the stage for the final two chapters and epilogue. Have patience; she really starts hitting back at the end.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Minato

    If you hate the Confederacy and it's monuments, you're a racist who hates all white people. There is no middle ground. If you hate the Confederacy and it's monuments, you're a racist who hates all white people. There is no middle ground.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl Minor

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Nicole

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sonya Safro

  9. 4 out of 5

    Becca

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kristina Drye

  11. 5 out of 5

    Debra

  12. 4 out of 5

    Andreas Haraldstad

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brad Bowen

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Doyle

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chloe Northrop

  16. 5 out of 5

    John Loughnane

  17. 5 out of 5

    Grace King

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Fachner

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brian Kulcinski

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dashiell Anderson

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Schexnayder

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ben

  23. 4 out of 5

    Peggie Hart

  24. 5 out of 5

    Meghan Volchko

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jessi Pantazis

  26. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  27. 4 out of 5

    Brian Guillaume

  28. 4 out of 5

    Betty Graybeal

  29. 5 out of 5

    Meg

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kari

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