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Freedom Summer: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy | [Bruce Watson]

Freedom Summer: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy

In the summer of 1964, with the civil rights movement stalled, seven hundred college students descended on Mississippi to register black voters, teach in Freedom Schools, and live in sharecroppers' shacks. But by the time their first night in the state had ended, three volunteers were dead, black churches had burned, and America had a new definition of freedom.
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Audible Editor Reviews

In Freedom Summer, Bruce Watson’s amazing attention to detail vividly brings to life the dramatic events that took place in Mississippi in 1964. Watson’s account of the murder of three civil rights workers that summer and the ensuing aftermath — told in David Drummond’s deep, baritone voice — makes for a very powerful listen. Thanks to numerous interviews with eyewitnesses to this striking moment in American history, Watson fills Freedom Summer with precise details like the midnight runs one civil rights worker would take to relieve his stress and the first terrifying night another spent half awake in her new office in Mississippi. It’s these telling details that give the book a sweeping, novelistic quality.

There’s also a sense of immediacy that stems from Watson’s precise writing and Drummond’s performance. Drummond wisely takes a matter-of-fact approach to narrating the book. There’s no reason to add extra drama to Freedom Summer. What happened that year in Mississippi needs no embellishment.

Freedom Summer should be heard in every 20th-century American history class, as it zeros in on a specific time and place and reminds us exactly what happened so we will never forget this dramatic turning point in American history. —Ken Ross

Publisher's Summary

In the summer of 1964, with the civil rights movement stalled, seven hundred college students descended on Mississippi to register black voters, teach in Freedom Schools, and live in sharecroppers' shacks. But by the time their first night in the state had ended, three volunteers were dead, black churches had burned, and America had a new definition of freedom. This remarkable chapter in American history, the basis for the controversial film Mississippi Burning, is now the subject of Bruce Watson's thoughtful and riveting historical narrative. Using in-depth interviews with participants and residents, Watson brilliantly captures the tottering legacy of Jim Crow in Mississippi and the chaos that brought such national figures as Martin Luther King, Jr., and Pete Seeger to the state. Freedom Summer presents finely rendered portraits of the courageous black citizens and Northern volunteers who refused to be intimidated in their struggle for justice, as well as the white Mississippians who would kill to protect a dying way of life. Few books have provided such an intimate look at race relations during the deadliest days of the civil rights movement.

©2010 Bruce Watson (P)2010 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"Bruce Watson captures, with skill and sensitivity, the drama of that historic summer in Mississippi.... This is the best account I have seen of Freedom Summer." (Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (120 )
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  •  
    Roy Beaumont, TX, United States 08-01-10
    Roy Beaumont, TX, United States 08-01-10 Member Since 2005
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    "The Long Hot Summer"

    A child of the 60s I approached this book with the impression that I knew most of what took place. Fortunately, I was wrong. This book revisits the summer of 1964 when 700 or so volunteers arrived to register voters in Mississippi. Familiar characteris of the era come alive through Bruce Watson's pen - LBJ, Stokely Carmichael and others. More importantly, a critical number of the 700 participants also come to life which is so interesting. If you think you know what took place and you fully understand the implications - look at this book again. It is informative, well written by Watson, and wonderfully read by David Drummond.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Hamilton 09-23-10 Listener Since 2010
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    "Change had to come."

    Great read, or in my case listen to, "Freedom Summer" by Bruce Watson. 700 people going into Mississippi to draught attention to Jim Crow laws in the south in '64. Many were abused. Several lost their lives. This pales in comparison to the black population in Mississippi who were abused, and lost their lives under Jim Crow. Freedom Summer wasn't the beginning of the Civil Rights movement, nor was it the end. In My opinion Freedom Summer turned a candle into a spotlight. Change had to come

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
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    M. J. Christensen Tucson, AZ. 09-01-14
    M. J. Christensen Tucson, AZ. 09-01-14 Member Since 2011
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    "A Turning Point In The Civil Rights Movement"

    This is a thorough and engaging look at the summer of 1964 when a number of dedicated young people went to Mississippi to register blacks to vote and establish "Freedom Schools". All the harrowing events that started with the murders of Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney are chronicled as Watson follows several of the volunteers through the months of June, July and August. The listener can feel the fear that the volunteers experienced daily and the culture-shock that many of them felt. Toward the end of the book, Watson mentions how Mississippi is one of the most progressive states in the South now, having more black elected officials than any other state in the country. This summer was the 50th anniversary of "Freedom Summer"; however, there is much more to be done before all Americans are considered first-class citizens.

    The narrator David Drummond has the right tone and inflections for this important book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 06-17-14
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 06-17-14
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    "Important work of American history"
    Would you listen to Freedom Summer again? Why?

    Yes! I have always been fascinated by the civil rights struggles, particularly in Mississippi, during the 1960s. Bruce Watson takes a complex time and place and brings it to life. I can feel the summer heat, the overpowering fear, and the glimmers of hope that were present during that summer that began the shift into voter racial equality.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Freedom Summer?

    When Martin Luther King met the young teacher, telling her that what she was doing was not "nothing," that the children were the future.


    Any additional comments?

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Bruce Watson is a talented writer, historian, journalist(?). David Drummond was very good in this performance, though there is something I can't put my finger on that does not make this a 5-star performance. I would listen to other performances of his - he is a good narrator (better than most).
    Read this book if you have any interest in civil rights, Mississippi, the 1960s... heck, read this book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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