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September, September


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About the Author

Shelby Foote was born on November 7, 1916 in Greenville, Mississippi, and attended school there until he entered the University of North Carolina. During World War II he served as a captain of field artillery but never saw combat. After World War II he worked briefly for the Associated Press in their New York bureau. In 1953 he moved to Memphis, where he lived for the remainder of his life.Foote was the author of six novels: Tournament, Follow Me Down, Love in a Dry Season, Shiloh, Jordan County, and September, September. He is best remembered for his 3-volume history The Civil War: A Narrative, which took twenty years to complete and resulted in his being a featured expert in Ken Burns' acclaimed Civil War documentary. Over the course of his writing career, Foote was also awarded three Guggenheim fellowships.Shelby Foote died in 2005 at the age of 88.


There are two stories told in this gripping tale of race relations and kidnapping set in 1957 Mississippi, hence the double title. September for the Kinships‘a well-to-do black family in Memphis‘begins with getting their two children ready for a new school year, while September for a trio of white criminals‘Podjo, Rufus, and his lover, Reeny‘begins with an elaborate plan to kidnap one of the Kinship children for ransom. What makes this novel both fascinating and horrifying is that the kidnappers have orchestrated their crime with the social upheaval that is wracking nearby Arkansas as its Governor attempts to prevent the schools of Little Rock from becoming integrated. The criminals realize that with animosity against blacks so intense in the South, they can be certain that a black family will not go to the unintegrated police department for help. Foote manages to make his readers understand and sympathize with both the Kinship family and, as unlikely as it seems, the three characters who find themselves united in crime and sexual rivalry. Very few writers are willing to examine the troubled intersection of black and white in America, and none have done it with the realism and compassion of Foote, who is a distinguished Civil War historian (e.g., Stars in Their Courses: The Gettysburg Campaign, Audio Reviews, LJ 3/1/95) as well as novelist. This fine novel, read by a cast of three, is recommended for all collections.‘Sharon Cumberland, Seattle Univ.

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