The Fall of the House of Dixie, by Bruce Levine

Spring books

Bruce Levine begins this compelling book with a prologue recounting Edgar Allan Poe’s famous story “The Fall of the House of Usher,” setting up an elaborate metaphor for the demise of antebellum southern society through the unintentional revolution wrought by the Civil War.

With chapter titles such as “Securing the Mansion,” “Cracks in the Walls Widen,” “A Ray of Light Shines Briefly through the Rafters” and “And the Walls Gave Way,” Levine uses the “Usher” analogy to suggest that white southern slave owners “resided in an imposing and outwardly sturdy structure” that even before the war “was already beginning to display deep fissures running through it”—fissures that “would widen” during the war “until the whole structure fell.”

 

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