History Department Chair and Jimmy Carter Professor of History Joseph Crespino discussed his most recent book, Atticus Finch: The Biography (Basic Books, 2018), with Brandon Tensley of Pacific Standard. In “How Reconsidering Atticus Finch Makes us Reconsider America,” Crespino talks about the enduring relevance of this fictional character in American society and politics. Read an excerpt below along with the full article here.
“Lee wrote her two novels in the midst of the massive resistance era. These were the days of Southern politics when you saw the rise of a right-wing, militant segregationist movement, when you had politicians who only a few years earlier had been dismissed as cranks, as nobodies, as jokes being elected to office—look at Ross Barnett in Mississippi or Lester Maddox in Georgia. That’s the period Lee was writing in. And she was trying to make sense of the fact that what she admired as the principled conservatism of her father was being overrun by—but also, crucially, was not standing up to—right-wing reactionaries across many states in the South.”