Walter Edgar's Journal

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Walter Edgar's Journal delves into the arts, culture, history of South Carolina and the American South. (A production of South Carolina Public Radio.)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed on Walter Edgar's Journal are not necessarily those of South Carolina Public Radio.

The Carolina Frontier

Jun 1, 2020
Early map of Virginia and the Carolinas
North Carolina State Archives
Okra for sale at the North Charleston Farmers' Market.
Ryan Johnson [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

The American South has experienced remarkable change over the past half century. Black voter registration has increased, the region’s politics have shifted, and in-migration has increased its population many fold. At the same time, many outward signs of regional distinctiveness have faded. But two professors of political science write that these changes have allowed for new types of Southern identity to emerge.

Tarawa, Kiribati - U.S. Marines storm Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands. The battle (November 20-23, 1943) was one of the bloodiest of WWII.
(U.S. Marine Corps Courtesy Photo by Warrant Officer Obie Newcomb, Jr.)

In November 1943, Marine 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman, Jr. was mortally wounded while leading a successful assault on a critical Japanese fortification on the Pacific atoll of Tarawa, and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor. The brutal, bloody 76-hour battle would ultimately claim the lives of more than 1,100 Marines and 5,000 Japanese forces.

Walter Edgar's Journal
SC Public Radio

In They Stole Him Out of Jail (2019, USC Press), William B. Gravely presents the most comprehensive account of the Willie Earle's lynching ever written, exploring it from background to aftermath and from multiple perspectives. Gravely meticulously re-creates the case’s details, analyzing the flaws in the investigation and prosecution that led in part to the acquittals. Vivid portraits emerge of key figures in the story, including both Earle and cab driver T. W. Brown, Solicitor Robert T. Ashmore, Governor Strom Thurmond, and Rebecca West, the well-known British writer who covered the trial for the New Yorker magazine.

Stereograph showing an exterior view of Libby Prison, a Confederate military prison, Richmond, VA.
Civil War Photograph Collection (Library of Congress)

From battlefields, boxcars, and forgotten warehouses to notorious prison camps like Andersonville and Elmira, prisoners seemed to be everywhere during the American Civil War. Yet there is much we do not know about the soldiers and civilians whose very lives were in the hands of their enemies. On this week’s Journal, Dr. Edgar talks with Dr. Evan Kutzler about Living by Inches (2019. UNC Press), the first book to examine how imprisoned men in the Civil War perceived captivity through the basic building blocks of human experience--their five senses.

Ted Lee and Matt Lee
Ovation

This week on Walter Edgar's Journal, Mat Lee and Ted Lee drop in to talk about their new book, Hotbox: Inside Catering, the Food World’s Riskiest Business (2019, Henry Holt). In Hotbox, the Lee brothers take on the competitive, wild world of high-end catering, exposing the secrets of a food business few home cooks or restaurant chefs ever experience. Known for their modern take on Southern cooking, the Lee brothers steeped themselves in the catering business for four years, learning the culture from the inside-out.

Destruction at the Walled City (Intramuros district) of old Manila in May 1945, after the Battle of Manila.
Office of the Surgeon general, Dept. of the Army via Wikimedia Commons

75 years ago, when Gen. Douglas MacArthur prepared to liberate the capital city of the Phillipines in 1945, he believed that the occupying Japanese forces would retreat. Instead, determined to fight to the death, Japanese marines barricaded intersections, converted buildings into fortresses, and booby-trapped stores, graveyards, and even dead bodies.

Whitfield Brooks's most notorious son: "Preston S. Brooks. Representative in Congress of the U.S. from South Carolina." Circa 1857
LIbrary of Congress/Walter, Adam B., 1820-1875, engraver

In his thoroughly researched and meticulously foot-noted publication, An Edgefield Planter and His World: The 1840s Journals of Whitfield Brooks (2019, Mercer University Press) Dr. James O. Farmer, Jr.,  opens a window on the life of an elite family and its circle in a now iconic place, during a crystalizing decade of the Antebellum era. By the time he began a new diary volume in 1840, Brooks (1790-1851) was among the richest men in a South Carolina district known for its cotton-and-slave-generated wealth.

Balcony seating originally designed for enslaved persons attending services at Trinity
Bill Fitzpatrick

For almost 30 years, Preservation South Carolina has been dedicated to preserving and protecting the historic and irreplaceable architectural heritage of South Carolina. Executive Director Michael Bedenbaugh and board member join Walter Edgar to talk about some of their projects, including efforts to preserve Endangered Sacred Spaces, which includes the restoration of Abbeville’s Trinity Episcopal Church.

- Originally broadcast 10/18/19 - 

In his new novel, The Last At-Bat of Shoeless Joe (2019, Chickadee Prince), Granville Wyche Burgess  imagines Shoeless Joe Jackson, the outfielder disgraced in the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal, living in Greenville, South Carolina, and finding that sports history has one more twist in store for him.

Southern Women

Mar 23, 2020
Walter Edgar's Journal
SC Public Radio

The Southern woman has long been synonymous with the Southern belle, a “moonlight and magnolias” myth that gets nowhere close to describing the strong, richly diverse women who have thrived because of—and in some cases, despite—the South.

Nathanael Greene, Thomas Sumter
NY Public Library

Andrew Waters, author of The Quaker and the Gamecock: Nathanael Greene, Thomas Sumter, and the Revolutionary War for the Soul of the South (2018, Casemate), joins Walter Edgar to tells the story of two wildly divergent leaders against the backdrop of the American Revolution's last gasp, the effort to extricate a British occupation force from the wild and lawless South Carolina frontier.

The Glories of Grits

Mar 9, 2020
A sepia-toned photo of a breakfast featuring grits.
shashafatcat [CC BY 2.0] via Flickr

Grits. If you grew up in the South, you have likely eaten them. If you buy yours from the grocery store, though, you may never have really tasted the goodness of stone ground grits. 

Currier & Ives & Cameron, J. (ca. 1884) An exciting finish
Library of Congress

According to the South Carolina Encyclopedia, “’The Sport of Kings’ emerged in South Carolina as soon as colonists gained firm footing and began amassing property and wealth enough to emulate the lifestyles of England and the Caribbean.” Horse racing and horse culture became an important part of South Carolina’s economic life in the 20th century and continue to thrive. Dr. E. Gabrielle Kuenzli of the University of South Carolina joins Dr.

The scene outside Emanuel A.M.E. Church, Charleston, SC, on Sunday morning, July 21, 2015.
Linda O'Bryon/SCETV

On June 17, 2015, twelve members of the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina welcomed a young white man to their evening Bible study. He arrived with a pistol, 88 bullets, and hopes of starting a race war. Dylann Roof’s massacre of nine innocents during their closing prayer horrified the nation. Two days later, some relatives of the dead stood at Roof’s hearing and said, “I forgive you.” That grace offered the country a hopeful ending to an awful story. But for the survivors and victims’ families, the journey had just begun.

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