A razor-sharp examination of Gone With the Wind, the emergence of 'the Lost Cause' and how they shaped America – from race riots to Trump.
Margaret Mitchell's epic novel, Gone With the Wind, became an overnight bestseller when it was published in 1936; the film rights were snapped up before it was even published and the production would famously go on to win ten Academy Awards.
In this fascinating analysis of Gone With the Wind's history and legacy, Sarah Churchwell examines the creation of one of the most popular stories of all time and its problematic depictions of race and women. Mitchell's early life was steeped in nostalgia for the 'good old days' of slavery, and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, influences that would shape both the book's plot and racial politics. The heroine, Scarlett, is one of the first modern portraits of complex womanhood; a twentieth-century woman trapped in the 1860s, however, her agency is achieved at the expense of people of colour, and the novel's white feminism is in tension against its racism.
Churchwell traces the novel and film's relationship to the myth of the Lost Cause and how they foreshadow the controversies in America today over the removal of Confederate statues, the rise of white nationalism and the Black Lives Matter movement; and the value of the story's uses – and misuses – of national mythologies.
'Enormously entertaining. Churchwell is a careful and sensitive reader, writes with great vigour and has a magpie's eye for a revealing story' Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times, on Behold, America.
'My number one contributor when it comes to US politics' Dan Snow.
'A ripping yarn ... An enthralling book ... Passionate, well-researched and comprehensive' Guardian, on Behold, America.
'Lively and eminently readable. Churchwell has produced a timely and clearly argued book' Literary Review, on Behold, America