McCaa Books
An Independent Publisher Dedicated to the Printed Word

RECENT REVIEWS OF OUR SOUTHERN HOME

 

"This book is well researched, edited and beautifully written; Faulkner's sociological and moral discontinuity and the author's 'southern voice' by cadence and phrasing reminding me of Shelby Foote and his cousin Horton."—Tony Kaufman

 

************************************************************************************************************************

SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT by Jonah Raskin, Summer 2013

Afraid of the South and yet fascinated by it, I turned to Waights Taylor's history of Alabama, the state where he was born and went to college. Taylor—who lives in Sonoma County [California] and still speaks with an accent that sounds Southern to me—takes . . . the reader back to Scottsboro, Alabama; Birmingham, where Taylor was born; to Livingston, where he grew up; and to Montgomery, the capital, and the site of the famous bus boycott that helped make Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks household names. . . . The author writes well about complex events and about a cast of historical figures, both black and white, men and women . . . Taylor writes from his head; years of research went into his book. He also writes from his heart; there's an ocean of feelings behind the words that rises to the surface. . . . The book reads like a literary ritual in which the author aims to exorcise the ghosts of racism that have haunted him for much of his life. He certainly doesn't duck Southern demons and he doesn't become maudlin, either. . . . At the end of the book, the author himself, all alone, sifts through his memories and his dreams, and monitors emotions that "vary from joy to sadness to despair."

—Jonah Raskin is the author of James MCGrath: In a Class by Himself, and other books of cultural and literary history. Review written for The Redwood Coast Review.

************************************************************************************************************************

Kirkus Reviews, October 2012

Taylor combines the story of his own family’s history with the infamous trials of the Scottsboro Boys and the burgeoning activism of Rosa Parks in the racially segregated and tumultuous South...Publicity of the case laid bare the racial attitudes of the post-slavery era, which Taylor recounts with remarkable finesse. He’s critical without being harshly judgmental, and he takes care to discuss the rich soil where the roots of prejudice took hold and flourished...It’s an engrossing tale that marries fine attention to detail with a creative, engaging writing style. It’s no mere retelling of history, as Taylor uses meticulous research to breathe vibrant life into the major players...(Click here to read the entire review.)

Kirkus Reviews: Since 1933, Kirkus has been one of the most trusted and authoritative voices in book reviews and discovery.

************************************************************************************************************************

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FIRST PART OF A VIDEO INTERVIEW OF WAIGHTS TAYLOR JR. AIRED ON MAY 11, 2012
Interview conducted by Jonah Raskin, noted Sonoma County author and recently retired as a professor from Sonoma State University.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE SECOND PART OF A VIDEO INTERVIEW OF WAIGHTS TAYLOR JR. AIRED ON MAY 11, 2012
Interview conducted by Jonah Raskin, noted Sonoma County author and recently retired as a professor from Sonoma State University.

************************************************************************************************************************

Birmingham Bar Association Book Review by Robert R. Kracke, June 2012

His [Mr. Taylor's] writing style is very readable and it interweaves a memoir with footnoted facts to produce a very personal history of the difficult transformation of Birmingham and Alabama in the South...Mr. Taylor has retold these tragic stories that many of us know but he does it in such an entertaining yet sad way that the reader feels as if the story is being related this time more eloquently than before. This fascinating account of the civil rights struggle is highly recommended to you.

—Robert R. Kracke is a Birmingham lawyer who writes book reviews. Review written for the Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin, Summer 2012.

************************************************************************************************************************

CLICK HERE TO HEAR RADIO INTERVIEW WITH WAIGHTS TAYLOR JR. AIRED ON FEBRUARY 21, 2012
Interview conducted by Carolyn Hutcheson and Georgette Norman of Troy University Public Radio, Montgomery, Alabama.

************************************************************************************************************************

HAUNTED BY RACISM by Jonah Raskin, December 10, 2011

Two “isms” – racism and liberalism – make their way through Our Southern Home, a new carefully researched book that’s part history and part memoir, and that offers a convincing argument that the political, social, and cultural events that happened in Alabama in the 20th century profoundly shaped the course of the civil rights movement in the United States and also in fact altered the shape of 20th-century American history. Alabama isn’t often thought of as the frontline of change, but author Waights Taylor portrays it in that light. For much of the book, it’s racism that’s ascendant and liberalism that’s in retreat, though even when racism seemed to define all of Alabama life, especially during the trial of “the Scottsboro Boys,” as they were known, there were Alabamans who refused to abide by the hideous pathologies of racism...(Click here to read the entire review.)

—Jonah Raskin is the author of The Mythology of Imperialism, and For the Hell of It: the Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman, and a professor at Sonoma State University. Review written for Swans Commentary.

************************************************************************************************************************

THE DARK SIDE OF ALABAMA'S MOON by Dennis Halac, December 8, 2011

Memoir. Journalism. History. The title and subtitles of this book suggest all three genres. That is precisely what is presented. Mr. Taylor is a native Alabaman born to a respectable Birmingham family more than 70 years ago. The death of his father, Waights Taylor Sr., revealed there was a connection to a famous historical event. The memoir part is a quest to understand how his father was once an FDR liberal but evolved into an arch-conservative, ardently Christian Southerner. The journalist in the author requires him to present a fair and balanced account of a trial that is usually melodramatized in extremis. The historian has led him to archives, research documents and interviews eventually revealing some new material. The book also has all the accoutrements of the academic: hundreds of footnotes, an extensive bibliography and an index...(Click here to read the entire review.)

—Dennis Halac is a historian and critic living in San Francisco. Review written for Mechanic's Institute Library.

************************************************************************************************************************

Click here to read the twenty-six 5-Star reviews and one 4-Star review on Amazon.com

Below are ten of the reviews (nine 5-Star Reviews and the one 4-Star Review).

BRILLIANT, September 7, 2012

With the research skills of a historian and the creative style of a novelist, Waights Taylor, Jr. brilliantly weaves the disparate, yet interconnected stories of Rosa Parks, Clarence Norris, one of the Scottsboro Boys, and his father, Waights Taylor, Sr. into the overarching narrative of the volatile South in the twentieth century. Our Southern Home is a literary gem that enlightens and transforms our understanding of this critical period in American History. If you want an excellent book to read, this is it!
—Anita Rowell


A HISTORY STORY, September 6, 2012

What a good (true)story teller! The writer untangles a complex series of more or less simultaneous events in Alabama relevant to the late, great Civil Rights Movement. Whether you were there or still trying to figure out how it went down, this read will easily engage and enlighten you. Mr. Taylor's attention to documentation gives the book credibility and I did not find it a guilt piece (which it could have been) but an emotive true story. As another reviewer did, I gave the book to many others as presents. (And that was an appreciated idea, it turns out.)
—Jizell Albright


YOU BETTER READ THIS, AMERICA, September 3, 2012

What a good (true)story teller! The writer untangles a complex series of more or less simultaneous events in Alabama relevant to the late, great Civil Rights Movement. Whether you were there or still trying to figure out how it went down, this read will easily engage and enlighten you. Mr. Taylor's attention to documentation gives the book credibility and I did not find it a guilt piece (which it could have been) but an emotive true story. As another reviewer did, I gave the book to many others as presents. (And that was an appreciated idea, it turns out.)
—Elspeth Benton


A HISTORY STORY, August 27, 2012

Having grown up in the South and imbued as a child with nostalgia for the "good old days gone by", I received an education of a high order from Waights Taylor. I knew of the suffering of the Scottsboro boys, but their struggles and the inspiring story of Rosa Parks brought back childhood memories of living in the staunchly segregated South. We still have a long way to go, but Our Southern Home relives the not so far off time when incredible ignorance and bigotry prevailed. Hopefully all of us can learn the lessons hard fought by those who came before us. I recommend this book for all to read.
—Thomas Paul Miles, MD


OUR AMERICAN HERITAGE, January 27, 2012

How do you create a highly readable historical perspective of institutional racism?
If you are Waights Taylor Jr. you have to have the experience, talent and need to weave an honest personal biography of iconic events and individuals as they occurred and subsequently influenced your life. This book is well researched, edited and beautifully written; Faulkner's sociological and moral discontinuity and the author's "southern voice" by cadence and phrasing reminding me of Shelby Foote and his cousin Horton.
As historical perspective, Our Southern Home is currently relevant if you wish to understand the evolution or devolution of the underpinnings of the political beliefs and attitudes from the southern Dixiecrats to the Republican south of today.
The author's stated introspective experience of emotional guilt is, "(to be) haunted by my past". For weaving such an "exquisite truth," Mr. Taylor deserves our grateful thanks and a literary absolution and exorcism for any past described omissions.
—Tony Kaufman


OUR SOUTHERN HOME - A REAL TREAT, January 24, 2012

I gave myself Our Southern Home for Christmas, and I have been thanking myself ever since. Even though this is a thoroughly documented, detailed history of the Civil Rights movement in Alabama, it reads like a novel. Once I started to read it, I couldn't put it down. If you want to immerse yourself in the history of the South in the 60s and enjoy yourself in the process, read Our Southern Home!
—Dave Doll


A GREAT CONTRIBUTION, November 28, 2011

In my opinion, Waights Taylor, Jr. has made a unique contribution to Americana: Our Southern Home is not only a family history but an engaging connection to one of the South's most infamous episodes (the Scottsboro trial), and the dawning of the struggle for Civil Rights. Impeccably written, this is a must-read for all Southerners and a should-read for everyone else.
—MrMolly


A REALLY GOOD READ, November 2, 2011

I'm not much of a history reader (I skew more toward novels), but this book caught me up in its stories. I so appreciate Mr. Taylor's straight-up, no-fooling-around writing, the honesty of his authorial voice and the way he informs textbook history with personal experience. He brought the anguish of those times alive for me as a fellow European-American. He reeled me in right from the introduction and that first (terrible!) brush with Martin Luther King. If I were to recommend one book to someone who wanted to walk into the whole subject of the pre-Civil Rights to Civil Rights era in the U.S., I'd hand them this readable, well researched, heartfelt book.
—Myra


BEAUTIFUL, November 2, 2011

Waights Taylor has brought to life historical events and players. I do not normally read history but have to admit that I have been taken with "Our Southern Home." I find myself reading much past my normal allotted time telling myself, "just one more page," until it is so far past my bedtime that I say, "oh what the heck, one more page." If history classes would have been this interesting in school I would be a historian today. I have come to know the accused, the accusers and those people and institutions who fought for one side or the other. Bravo Mr. Taylor for telling a critically important story in our nation's history in such a captivating and accessible way. You have a new fan.
—Armando


MASTERFUL, October 23, 2011

In Our Southern Home, Waights Taylor Jr. masterfully intertwines an unlikely mix of historical fact, social commentary, memoir and family biography into an amazingly coherent book that defies fitting into a specific genre.

This powerful book is filled with the nuances of segregation and deep-seated hatred from "Scottsboro to Montgomery to Birmingham." The author skillfully threads the history of three people who were 18 years old in 1931 into an enticing read.

Clarence Norris, one of the Scottsboro Nine, Rosa Parks, the woman who, with a simple act of civil disobedience, jumped the modern Civil Rights Movement forward, and Waights Taylor, the author's father were "Three young people, all eighteen years of age, each calling the South home—a young black man, a young white man, and a young black woman with three very different life stories and outcomes."

Our Southern Home is thoroughly researched and indexed. The book adds well-researched personal depth to other scholarly works that cover the tragic events of the Scottsboro Nine through Civil Rights Movement and beyond.

The author ends the volume with the words, "I am haunted by my past." Readers, too, will be haunted by this surprising blend of scholarly work and personal and family narrative.

An excellent read—well worth its purchase price and a "keeper" to boot.
—Ann Carranza


Copyright © 2016 McCaa Publications. All rights reserved.