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Texas Historian vs. Harvard and Hollywood


by Jerome Weeks 30 Jul 2009

The New York Times reports that Texas State University history prof Victoria Bynum, author of The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War, is objecting to a recent book, The State of Jones: The Small Southern County That Seceded From the Confederacy, by Harvard prof John Stauffer and Washington Post writer Sally Jenkins. As […]

CTA TBD

imagedbcgi51bpek8oc6l_sl500_aa240_1The New York Times reports that Texas State University history prof Victoria Bynum, author of The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War, is objecting to a recent book, The State of Jones: The Small Southern County That Seceded From the Confederacy, by Harvard prof John Stauffer and Washington Post writer Sally Jenkins. As their titles indicate, both books are about the same Civil War story: Jones County in Mississippi was led by an anti-Confederate renegade, Newton Knight. But the Stauffer-Jenkins book, whatever its scholarly merits, was inspired by a Hollywood screenplay written by filmmaker Gary Ross, producer of Seabiscuit and writer of Spider-Man 4. The Stauffer-Jenkins book acknowledges Bynum’s work from eight years earlier but departs from it significantly, particularly in the matter of Knight’s affair with an ex-slave, which makes for a much more screen-ready story.

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