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The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America's Journey from Slavery to Segregation

Steve Luxenberg



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04 March 2020
A shattering narrative of how a nation embraced separation and its pernicious consequences.

Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court case synonymous with separate but equal, drew remarkably little attention when the justices announced their decision on May 18, 1896. Yet it is one of the most compelling and dramatic stories of the nineteenth century.

Told through the eyes of the people caught up in the case-the New Orleans resisters who brought it, the best-selling author recruited to argue it, the justices who heard it-Separate wends its way through a half-century of American history, beginning at the dawn of the railroad age, germinating in the soil of slavery and the Civil War, and then bursting forth in the aftermath of Reconstruction as separation took root in nearly every aspect of American life. Winner of the 2016 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award, Separate is a sweeping, swiftly paced, and surprising account of our nation's most devastating divide.
Imprint:   Norton
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 211mm,  Width: 140mm,  Spine: 30mm
Weight:   468g
ISBN:   9780393357691
ISBN 10:   0393357694
Pages:   624
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Steve Luxenberg is the author of Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America's Journey from Slavery to Segregation and the critically acclaimed Annie's Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret. During his thirty years as a Washington Post senior editor, he has overseen reporting that has earned numerous national honors, including two Pulitzer Prizes. Separate won the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

Reviews for Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America's Journey from Slavery to Segregation

Dazzlingly well-reported.... [A]n eye-opening journey through some of the darkest passages and haunting corridors of American history. -- Terence Samuel - NPR Deeply researched, and it wears its learning lightly. -- Louis Menand - The New Yorker A striking view of Reconstruction and of the tragic stillbirth of freedom in that era. -- Charles S. Dameron - Wall Street Journal Separate vividly tells the story of how far our country had to go to repudiate its commitments to a racial double standard. -- David Cole - The Nation Luxenberg gives a three-dimensional and almost novelistic treatment to the players involved, drawing on diaries, letters and archival research. -- Joumana Khatib - The New York Times In Separate, the context and aftermath of the court's ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson are woven into a nuanced history of America's struggles in the 19th century as a civil war was fought, slavery ended and a new, complex racial politics haltingly took form. -- The Economist Informative, engaging, exquisitely written, sensitive to individuals' frailties, flaws, and inconsistencies, by turns inspiring and dispiriting, Separate is a splendid work of history. -- Glenn C. Altschuler - Florida Courier In documenting this country's fateful journey from slavery through thwarted Reconstruction to segregation, Luxenberg paints on a broad canvas, elegantly narrating several captivating and scrupulously researched stories that converge in Plessy v. Ferguson.... [F]ascinating. -- Steve Nathans-Kelly - New York Journal of Books [Luxenberg] is a fine writer... Separate reminds us that our history is not simply a narrative of greater and greater freedom. -- Eric Foner - The Washington Post An ambitious and deeply researched nonfiction account.... [Luxenberg] draws on letters, diaries and archival collections to bring the true story to life. -- Suzanne Van Atten - Atlanta Journal-Constitution

  • Short-listed for Association of American Publishers PROSE Award 2020

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