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Wiley Cash

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Literature & Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers


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Wiley Cash is theNew York Times best selling author of The Last Ballad, A Land More Kind than Home, and This Dark Road to Mercy (William Morrow/HarperCollins). He currently serves as the writer-in-residence at the University of North Carolina-Asheville and teaches in the Mountainview Low-Residency MFA. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and their two young daughters. Please visit wileycash.com to check the scheduled events for his book tour in the fall of

Sours: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/Wiley_Cash

Last week, Wiley Cash (his real name!) published his first novel, A Land More Kind Than Home, a nouveau Southern gothic, which was featured in *Vanity Fair’*s May issue. Cash, a charming North Carolinian, spoke with VF Daily about evangelical faith healings, being mistaken for Justin Timberlake, and writing bad Doors-inspired poetry. Highlights from our chat:

VF Daily: Where did your story about faith-healing-gone-wrong originate?Wiley Cash: I got the idea for the novel when I was in grad school. I was taking a class in African American literature, and my professor brought in a news story about a young, autistic African American boy—I think he might have been like 14—who was smothered in a healing service on the South Side of Chicago at a storefront church. It’s tragic, but I just thought it was so interesting, because I was raised in an evangelical church. The church I went to was Southern Baptist. There weren’t things like faith healings that extreme, but it was something that I knew about and that I was comfortable talking about.

It’s fascinating that faith healings still take place.

It goes back to this puritanical typology where you see everything in signs of God’s displeasure or God’s favor. Nothing happens because of biology or because of chemistry, or because of the natural world. If you’re having a great life, and you’re rich, and you’re healthy, and you have beautiful children, then God’s on your side. But if something bad happens to you, that means you disappointed God or the devil’s working on you. In that world view, humans don’t have any accountability, and that’s what’s so dangerous. Whenever bad things happen, you can say, “The Devil made me do it, so take me back, honey . . . ”__

__What time period does the book take place in? The eighties?

Yes. I grew up in the eighties and I was born in ’77, so I would have been just [the main character, Jess’s] age. We have this idea that the eighties was all disco, Ronald Reagan, Swatch watches, Coca-Cola sweatshirts, and Kirk Cameron, but in reality the eighties was marked by paranoia with Russia and Libya. When you look at the plight of Southern evangelicals in the s—and Reagan was the hero of the Southern evangelical—the eighties were a tough time. I have clear memories of people talking about Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, and how the devil was working on them, and how they were being challenged. In reality, these people were stealing millions and millions of dollars from their parishioners, or their donators or whatever the case is. And Jimmy Swaggert’s crying on national television about, “Jesus, forgive me,” because he was caught with prostitutes. It’s a pretty cynical time, and Jess being cynical about what he’s seeing and hearing and being told was emblematic about what I felt a lot of the time.

Were you aiming to be a writer in college?

I was. I was writing little doomy, gothic, self-centered poems while listening to Doors albums. I think a lot of people start out that way. But I got to college and realized, “Man, I am a shitty poet. This is terrible.”__

__Do you ever ask your wife for editing advice?

Yeah, she reads everything that I do first. She read the novel as I was working with my agent, and we were on the verge of submitting it to editors. Around that time she would read 20, 30 pages of my manuscript a night. One night we were in bed and she was reading my manuscript, and I was reading something else, and we were about to turn the lights out. She sighed really deeply and said, “This is the most incredible writing.” She said, “This is how you write a novel.” And I was so touched, and I looked over, and she was reading Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides.

I remember that at the lunch event for your book, which took place at Justin Timberlake’s restaurant, Southern Hospitality, some girls passing by the window mistook you for Timberlake. Then there was a joke about you being the Justin Timberlake of American literature.

I did a debut-author panel at the Public Library Association Conference in Philadelphia, and Barbara Hoffert from Library Journal introduced the panel, and she was at that lunch. She totally introduced me as someone who wants to be the Justin Timberlake of American literature. In the circumstances that we were in—in New York at his restaurant—that was funny. In Philadelphia, it was weird.

Was there any of that wonderful nervous laughter?

There was some awkward laughter, and I leaned into the mic and I just said, “I said that ironically.” Then I told them that I actually had designs on being the Nicholas Sparks of American literature. That’s my real goal.

A Land More Kind Than Homeis published by William Morrow.

Sours: https://www.vanityfair.com/culture//04/q-a-wiley-cash-a-land-more-kind-than-home-justin-timberlake
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Wiley Cash

American novelist

Wiley Cash is a New York Times best-sellingnovelist from North Carolina. He is the author of three novels, A Land More Kind Than Home, This Dark Road to Mercy, and The Last Ballad. His work has won numerous awards, including the Southern Book Prize twice, and the Crime Writers' Association's CWA New Blood Dagger and Gold Dagger.

Personal life[edit]

Cash grew up in Gastonia, North Carolina.[2] His mother was a nurse, and his father was a pharmacist.[3] He was raised Southern Baptist.[4] His brother is the comedian Cliff Cash;[5] they also have a sister.[6] Cash attended Ashbrook High School and Gaston Day School in Gastonia.[7]

After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Asheville,[8] Cash earned an M.A. from UNC-Greensboro,[9] then a Ph.D. in American Literature from University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he was mentored by writer Ernest J. Gaines.[3][1]

In , he became writer-in-residence at UNC-Asheville, his alma mater.[10][1] He previously taught at Southern New Hampshire University.[8]

He lives in Wilmington, North Carolina with his wife and two children.[4]


Cash's writing has been praised for his ear for Southern dialect, Southern Gothic qualities, and blending of family drama with suspense.[4] He often uses a multi-character perspective in his works, shifting chapters between a number of characters to tell the story. The Last Ballad uses eight.[3][11][12]

Vanity Fair jokingly dubbed him "the Justin Timberlake of American literature" after Cash was mistaken for the singer at Timberlake's New York restaurant.[12]

All of Cash's books are set in his home state of North Carolina.[2] He told an interviewer for National Public Radio that North Carolina plays a central role in his writing: "Every time I put pen to paper, it's an act of trying to reclaim a place I love."[13]

Cash's debut novel, A Land More Kind Than Home, a thriller with Southern Gothic elements which follows the destructive wake of a deceptive snake-handling faith healer, was positively reviewed by the Washington Post and other national publications.[14] It was named one of the most notable books of by the New York Times, which called it "mesmerizing".[15]

His second novel, This Dark Road to Mercy, tells the story of two young girls who are thrown together with their estranged father, a washed-up baseball player. It is set during the home run battle between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.[13]Chicago Tribune reviewer Hope Reese praised Cash's "knack for flow and dialogue" but said that the story felt rushed and underexplored.[11] Washington Post reviewer Ron Charles felt that This Dark Road to Mercy was overly predictable and flat in comparison to Cash's debut.[16]

His novel The Last Ballad is a fictionalized version of the Loray Mill strike in Gastonia, centered on the murder of activist and musician Ella May Wiggins. He was drawn to the subject by the fact that its history had been seemingly forgotten despite its close proximity to his own family and hometown; his parents both grew up in nearby milling communities, and his mother's maiden name was Wiggin. He also took inspiration from music of the s and s thanks to his friendship with members of the string band Old Crow Medicine Show.[1] New York Times reviewer Amy Rowland praised the novel's blend of fact and fiction, saying "Cash vividly blends the archival with the imaginative. Cash, with care and steadiness, has pulled from the wreckage of the past a lost moment of Southern progressivism."[17]

Cash also contributed an essay to the book This Louisiana Thing that Drives Me: The Legacy of Ernest J. Gaines.[18]

His fourth novel, When Ghosts Come Home, is expected to be published in [2]


Awards and nominations[edit]

  • CWA New Blood Dagger, , for A Land More Kind than Home
  • PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize shortlist, , for A Land More Kind than Home[22]
  • Southern Book Prize,
  • Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award, for A Land More Kind Than Home[8]
  • CWA Gold Dagger, , for This Dark Road to Mercy[23]
  • Edgar Award (finalist), , for This Dark Road to Mercy[24]
  • Southern Book Prize,


  1. ^ abcdRomine Powell, Dannye (). "Bestselling author Wiley Cash brings Gastonia mill strike to vivid life". The News & Observer. Raleigh, North Carolina. Retrieved
  2. ^ abcPoteat, Bill (). "New Wiley Cash novel set on North Carolina coast". The Gaston Gazette. Gastonia, North Carolina. Retrieved
  3. ^ abcNeufeld, Rob (). "UNC Asheville grad Wiley Cash introduces new novel about Loray Mill strike". Asheville Citizen-Times. Asheville, North Carolina. Retrieved
  4. ^ abcSmith, Kathryn (). "Spokane is Reading: Wiley Cash's 'A Land More Kind Than Home' is steeped in Southern flavor". The Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Retrieved
  5. ^Staton, John (). "Comedian Cliff Cash talks touring, doing shows for charity and his upcoming album". Star-News. Wilmington, North Carolina. Retrieved
  6. ^Marshall, Alli (October 24, ). "Comedian Cliff Cash on living his best life". Mountain Xpress. Asheville, North Carolina. Retrieved
  7. ^Kelley, Pam (). "The amazing Cash brothers of Gastonia tell stories, find success". Charlotte Observer. Charlotte, North Carolina. Retrieved
  8. ^ abcO'Sullivan, Joanne (). "Wiley Cash wins Thomas Wolfe award, reads at Malaprop's". Asheville Citizen-Times. Asheville, North Carolina. Retrieved
  9. ^"Bio". Wiley Cash. Retrieved
  10. ^"Wiley Cash named writer-in-residence at UNC Asheville". Asheville Citizen-Times. Asheville, North Carolina. Retrieved
  11. ^ abReese, Hope (). "Review: 'This Dark Road to Mercy' by Wiley Cash". Chicago Tribune. Chicago. Retrieved
  12. ^ abButler, Tray (October 2, ). "Mill strike of is backdrop for story of class warfare". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta. Retrieved
  13. ^ ab"Gothic Thriller Takes Two Young Girls Down A 'Dark Road To Mercy'". National Public RadioWeekend Edition. February 2, Retrieved
  14. ^Yarbrough, Steve (May 8, ). "Wiley Cash's "A Land More Kind Than Home"". Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Retrieved
  15. ^" Notable Books of ". New York Times. New York City. November 27, Retrieved
  16. ^Charles, Ron (January 28, ). "Books: 'This Dark Road to Mercy,' by Wiley Cash". Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Retrieved
  17. ^Rowland, Amy (November 17, ). "A Novelist Revisits a Deadly Textile Union Strike From ". New York Times. New York City. Retrieved
  18. ^Reggie Scott Young; Wiley Cash; Marcia Gaudet (). This Louisiana Thing that Drives Me: The Legacy of Ernest J. Gaines. University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press. ISBN&#;.
  19. ^Wiley Cash (27 March ). A Land More Kind Than Home. William Morrow. ISBN&#;.
  20. ^Wiley Cash (28 January ). This Dark Road to Mercy: A Novel. William Morrow. ISBN&#;.
  21. ^Wiley Cash (3 October ). The Last Ballad: A Novel. William Morrow. ISBN&#;.
  22. ^" PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize". Retrieved
  23. ^Flood, Alison (). "Robert Harris's novel about Dreyfus affair named thriller of the year". The Guardian. London. Retrieved
  24. ^Kellogg, Carolyn (). "Finalists for the Edgar Awards are announced". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles. Retrieved

External links[edit]

Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiley_Cash
Wiley - Cash In My Pocket ( Lyrics )

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Winner of the Southern Book Prize for Literary Fiction

Named a Best Book of by the Chicago Public Library and the American Library Association

“Wiley Cash reveals the dignity and humanity of people asking for a fair shot in an unfair world.”

- Christina Baker Kline, author of A Piece of the World and Orphan Train

The New York Times bestselling author of the celebrated A Land More Kind Than Home and This Dark Road to Mercy returns with this eagerly awaited new novel, set in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina in and inspired by actual events. Thechronicle of an ordinary woman’s struggle for dignity and her rights in a textile mill, The Last Ballad is a moving tale of courage in the face of oppression and injustice, with the emotional power of Ron Rash’s Serena, Dennis Lehane’s The Given Day, and the unforgettable films Norma Rae and Silkwood.

Twelve times a week, twenty-eight-year-old Ella May Wiggins makes the two-mile trek to and from her job on the night shift at American Mill No. 2 in Bessemer City, North Carolina. The insular community considers the mill’s owners—the newly arrived Goldberg brothers—white but not American and expects them to pay Ella May and other workers less because they toil alongside African Americans like Violet, Ella May’s best friend. While the dirty, hazardous job at the mill earns Ella May a paltry nine dollars for seventy-two hours of work each week, it’s the only opportunity she has. Her no-good husband, John, has run off again, and she must keep her four young children alive with whatever work she can find.

When the union leaflets begin circulating, Ella May has a taste of hope, a yearning for the better life the organizers promise. But the mill owners, backed by other nefarious forces, claim the union is nothing but a front for the Bolshevik menace sweeping across Europe. To maintain their control, the owners will use every means in their power, including bloodshed, to prevent workers from banding together. On the night of the county’s biggest rally, Ella May, weighing the costs of her choice, makes up her mind to join the movement—a decision that will have lasting consequences for her children, her friends, her town—indeed all that she loves.

Seventy-five years later, Ella May’s daughter Lilly, now an elderly woman, tells her nephew about his grandmother and the events that transformed their family. Illuminating the most painful corners of their history, she reveals, for the first time, the tragedy that befell Ella May after that fateful union meeting in

Intertwining myriad voices, Wiley Cash brings to life the heartbreak and bravery of the now forgotten struggle of the labor movement in early twentieth-century America—and pays tribute to the thousands of heroic women and men who risked their lives to win basic rights for all workers. Lyrical, heartbreaking, and haunting, this eloquent novel confirms Wiley Cash’s place among our nation’s finest writers.

Sours: https://www.amazon.com/Wiley-Cash/e/BW9GHQ%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Wikipedia wiley cash

Wiley Cash biography


Wiley Cash talks about his novels, A Land More Kind Than Home and The Last Ballad

A Conversation with Wiley Cash about The Last Ballad

The irony that the Loray Mill, where scenes in the book are set, is now home to luxury condos is not lost on you. Why is writing about the history of the mill so important to you now?

I grew up in Gastonia, North Carolina, completely unaware of the history of the mill. Firestone purchased the mill not long after the strike, which was one of the only communist led strikes in American history. It turned the city upside down, people died, and families were run out of town. But by the time I was born in , Gastonia had completely buried the story of the Loray Mill strike. It wasn&#;t until I went to grad school in that one of my professors learned that I was from Gastonia and mentioned the Loray Mill strike. I researched the name Loray Mill and was shocked to learn that the place I&#;d always known as the Firestone Plant was the epicenter of one of the most important moments in American history. It had all occurred in my hometown, and I had grown up knowing nothing about it. My parents, who were born in the s and came of age under Joseph McCarthy and the Red Scare, had also never heard of it. It made me realize that history is not a fixed thing, and it

Full Interview

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Sours: https://www.bookbrowse.com/biographies/index.cfm/author_number//wiley-cash
Wiley Cash in Conversation with Charles Frazier

Gothic Thriller Takes Two Young Girls Down A 'Dark Road To Mercy'

This Dark Road to Mercy

by Wiley Cash

Twelve-year-old Easter Quillby has learned to keep her expectations low in order to protect herself from more disappointment in life. It's a coping mechanism she developed to keep her and her 6-year-old sister, Ruby, safe after their mom unexpectedly passed away. But when their estranged dad kidnaps them from foster care, they're forced to live in the middle of his past and present mistakes — all the while trying to figure out what family is supposed to mean.

That's the premise of Wiley Cash's new novel, This Dark Road To Mercy. Cash introduced his Southern Gothic style in his debut novel, A Land More Kind Than Home, which, like this latest book, takes place in a small town in North Carolina.

Cash tells Weekend Edition's Rachel Martin about the books narrators and why he chose to set it during Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa's home run battle.

Interview Highlights

On Brady Weller, Easter and Ruby's court advocate and one of the book's three narrators

Brady is an ex-police officer and he's an ex-detective. He's got a bit of tragedy in his own past, and he's also, at the time of the novel's narration, he's estranged from his teenage daughter. So he's given the opportunity to care for these two young girls and kind of shepherd them through the legal system. And when they disappear, he feels an intense sense of responsibility, not only for their lives but also, in many ways, for his own.

On whether Robert Pruitt, another one of the book's narrators, is "not a good guy"

Wiley Cash teaches in the MFA program at Southern New Hampshire University. Tiffany B. Davis/Courtesy of HarperCollins hide caption

toggle caption
Tiffany B. Davis/Courtesy of HarperCollins

Wiley Cash teaches in the MFA program at Southern New Hampshire University.

Tiffany B. Davis/Courtesy of HarperCollins

I think that's pretty fair. This is a guy that once had big dreams for himself, and his dreams are dashed when our anti-hero — or our lovable loser, Wade Chesterfield, the girls' father — when he throws a pitch and blinds Robert Pruitt and ends his baseball career. So he's out for revenge, he's out for blood and he's hot on the trail of this father and his two daughters.

On why he chose to set the story during the home run battle between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa

That's kind of an interesting juxtaposition. I think at first glance it would seem as if the story has nothing to do with baseball. But, you know, the home run race is something that came during a particularly cynical time in American political history.

In , we had a lot of scandal in D.C. But at night, we'd all turn on the television and we'd sit down as a family and we'd watch these two American heroes try to break this famous record, and it really brought us all together. But now we look back and we realize that that was fiction, that none of that was true.

And so that's kind of what this novel is about: It's looking back at things that we once believed to be true — whether it's about our families or about ourselves or about our national obsessions — and asking ourselves, "Am I believing correctly? Am I seeing this with clear eyes?"

On Wade Chesterfield, the girls' dad, who is a washed-up minor-league baseball player

That's an American archetype, this failed college, high-school athlete. You know, I'm thinking of Al Bundy on Married With Children, who sells shoes in a women's department and every time he gets the chance goes back to the game-winning drive in his high school football game. You know, these failed athletes who want their lives to be more than what they were.

And I think Wade falls under that category. And I think it's almost an act of beauty to watch these people live in the past and to generate these myths and these legends about themselves and to be able to propel those myths and legends into the present. And it's also a tragedy — and there's beauty in that tragedy, and in the lives they create for themselves.

On the role that North Carolina plays in his fiction

I grew up in North Carolina, but I left North Carolina when I was 25 and I moved to Louisiana to go to graduate school. And as soon as I was there, I realized how desperately homesick for North Carolina I was. And so I started writing A Land More Kind Than Home, which is set in the North Carolina mountains. Every time I put pen to paper, it's an act of trying to reclaim a place I love, and a place that I miss and a place that I get to live in whenever I sit down to work.

Sours: https://www.npr.org//02/02//gothic-thriller-takes-two-young-girls-down-a-dark-road-to-mercy

Now discussing:

W. J. Cash

American writer

"Wilbur J. Cash" redirects here. For the politician, see Wilbur J. Cash (politician).

The cover of Cash's celebrated The Mind of the South

Wilbur Joseph Cash (May 2, – July 1, ) was an American journalist known for writing The Mind of the South (), his controversial interpretation of the history of the American South.


Early life[edit]

Cash was born and grew up in the mill village of Gaffney, South Carolina. He attended Wofford College and graduated from Wake Forest College (now Wake Forest University) in , also attending law school for a year there. During his final two undergraduate years, he served first as managing editor and then editor of the college newspaper, the Old Gold & Black. Cash left law school, declaring later that it "required too much mendacity," and taught college and high school for two years, before turning permanently to journalism and writing as his profession.

Newspaper career[edit]

During the period , Cash undertook several newspaper jobs: a year in Chicago writing for the now-defunct Chicago Evening Post; several months with The Charlotte News, during which he wrote a wistful, philosophical column titled "The Moving Row"; and a four-month stint during the fall of as the chief editor of a small, semi-weekly newspaper in Shelby, North Carolina, during which Cash excoriated the Ku Klux Klan and the anti-Catholicism at work, especially in the South, against the candidacy of Al Smith for president against Herbert Hoover.

During the period of primary writing on The Mind of the South ( through ), Cash lived in Boiling Springs, North Carolina and Shelby, North Carolina.[1] When his contributions to The American Mercury ended after the passage of the Mercury's editorship from H. L. Mencken to Lawrence Spivak, Cash supported himself with freelance weekly book reviews to The Charlotte News from through , for each of which he received a meagre $3. These "book reviews" often became fierce analytical diatribes penetrating the mindset of Nazism under Hitler and Fascism under Mussolini, while at other times exploring the South through Southern writers such as James Branch Cabell, Erskine Caldwell, Lillian Smith, Ellen Glasgow, Claude McKay, Thomas Wolfe, and William Faulkner. During this period Cash also wrote occasional editorials for The News, focusing primarily on the danger of Hitler and Mussolini to worldwide democracy, a topic on which he regularly expounded beginning in , a topic which by the latter thirties would overtake his interest in the South and further delay completion of the book.

The strength of the freelance book reviews earned Cash a job as Associate Editor of The Charlotte News from October, through May, ; in this role, Cash wrote editorials on every conceivable topic, stressing the international situation. The Charlotte News, which closed its doors in , was at the time a lively, progressive newspaper enjoying the largest circulation of any afternoon daily in the Carolinas and its broad readership expanded admiration for Cash's writing and extraordinary prescience on the developing war news out of Europe and the Pacific. His writing was considered so eerily predictive of coming events in the war that fellow staff writers at The News nicknamed him "Zarathustra."

Cash was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing in for his work during on World War II for the newspaper.

The Mind of the South[edit]

Frustrated with the duties at a small newspaper, Cash abruptly quit shortly after the election and began writing what would turn out to be eight articles for H.L. Mencken's American Mercury between and , including the seminal piece "The Mind of the South," published in October, Cash's aggressive style owed a great deal to Mencken.[2] Blanche and Alfred Knopf, publishers of the Mercury, saw the piece, liked it, and asked Cash to write a book-length version. Thus was born the famous book. The text was delayed, much to the Knopfs' worry and frustration, for over a decade as Cash meticulously labored to perfect the work to its final conclusion in mid, receiving help along the way from the noted University of North Carolina sociologist, Howard Odum.

On February 10, , The Mind of the South was published by Knopf. The book, a socio-historical, intuitive exploration of Southern culture, received wide critical acclaim at the time and garnered for Cash praise from sources as diverse as the N.A.A.C.P., TIME, The New York Times,The Saturday Review of Literature and most Southern newspapers of note. (One note of negative criticism came from the Agrarian group out of Nashville.) TIME, for instance, stated, "Anything written about the South henceforth must start where he leaves off."

Cash in Mexico[edit]

In March, , largely on the strength of the critical success of the book, Cash was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to spend a year in Mexico writing a novel, to be on the progress of a Southern cotton mill family from the Old South into the modern era. Cash had always considered himself to be superior at writing fiction to non-fiction, so stated in his October, application to the Guggenheim Foundation, and embraced the opportunity for a year to try his hand at a novel with great eagerness. Cash had made, first in , then in , two previous applications for Guggenheim grants: the first to have been a study of Lafcadio Hearn, to have been titled "Anatomy of a Romantic," using Hearn as an exemplar by which to study Southern romantics generally; the second to have been a study of the Nazi mindset by spending a year in Germany, a contrasting reprise of Cash's bicycle tour of pre-Nazi Europe during the summer of Likely because of Cash's lack of a published major work at the time, both applications were rejected. The third and successful application was sponsored by the Knopfs and by Raleigh News & Observer Editor and Guggenheim recipient, Jonathan W. Daniels, who had befriended Cash in The Fellowship carried with it great prestige at the time, Cash being placed in the select company of Daniels, Thomas Wolfe, and playwright Paul Green, as the only North Carolinians to have received the grant by

Cash, with his wife of five months, Mary Ross Northrop, also a writer and contributor to The News, embarked on the trip to Mexico in late May, Having been invited by University of Texas president Homer Rainey to provide the main commencement address to the graduating class on June 2 in Austin. Cash addressed some 1, graduates, focusing on the main developmental socio-psychological themes of the South through history into the modern era, titled "The South in a Changing World."[3]

Cash had long suffered from depression. On July 1, , Cash feared that Nazi assassins were following him. He committed suicide in his hotel room in Mexico City.[4]


Two biographies have been published on Cash, W. J. Cash: Southern Prophet, by Joseph L. Morrison, Knopf, , and W. J. Cash: A Life, by Bruce Clayton, L.S.U. Press,

In , to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of The Mind of the South, two widely hailed seminars on the South and the impact through time of Cash's book on the South were held at Wake Forest and at the University of Mississippi. Each seminar attracted numerous prominent scholars, journalists and political leaders in multi-day sessions, resulting in two published works of essays, W. J. Cash and the Minds of the South, L.S.U. Press, , ed. by Paul D. Escott, and The Mind of the South Fifty Years Later, Univ. Press of Miss., , ed. by Charles W. Eagles.

Cash's work has been the subject of continuing debate among scholars since publication and the subject of numerous treatises in academic journals. The book has never been out of print and a new edition was published in under the Vintage Books imprint of Random House. The first paperback edition was published in , the same year of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education ordering the desegregation of public schools. The book has enjoyed a wide and diverse readership through time and has often been assigned reading in course work in colleges and universities, both in and outside the South. The book had its greatest following during the s and s, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. It has been praised by many scholars as the virtual bible on the origins of Southern culture and required reading for any serious student on the social history of the South and its conflicts through time.<rfef>Cobb, </ref>

The concluding paragraph from "The Mind of the South" is often cited as a distillation of the entire book:

Proud, brave, honorable by its lights, courteous, personally generous, loyal, swift to act, often too swift, but signally effective, sometimes terrible, in its action -- such was the South at its best. And such at its best it remains today, despite the great falling away in some of its virtues. Violence, intolerance, aversion and suspicion toward new ideas, an incapacity for analysis, an inclination to act from feeling rather than from thought, an exaggerated individualism and too narrow concept of social responsibility, attachment to fictions and false values, above all too great attachment to racial values and a tendency to justify cruelty and injustice in the name of those values, sentimentality and a lack of realism -- these have been its characteristic vices in the past. And, despite changes for the better, they remain its characteristic vices today.[5]

According to biographer Bruce Clayton, the central themes in The Mind of the South were romanticism, violence, hyperbolic rhetoric, individualism, and white racial solidarity. Class consciousness was of minor importance.[6]

Cash emphasized continuity rather than change, thereby downplaying the effects of the Civil War and Reconstruction and leading some critics to attack his generalizations.[7]C. Vann Woodward, while praising Cash's vigorous style, contends that Cash routinely ignored contrary evidence, missed the power of the southern aristocracy, downplayed blacks, and minimized the central importance of slavery. He also overemphasized the plain white farmers and the Piedmont region, as opposed to the more influential plantation owners in the Black Belt. Woodward rejected Cash's consensus thesis of unity and continuity.[8]


  1. ^W.J. Cash at Earl Scruggs Center
  2. ^Bruce Clayton, "W.J. Cash and the Creative Impulse." Southern Review (): –
  3. ^(a recording of this half-hour speech still survives and is available for listening at the University of North Carolina Southern Historical Collection in Chapel Hill, as well as online).
  4. ^Morrison, , p. debunks conspiracy theories about his death.
  5. ^Cash, , pp. –
  6. ^Bruce Clayton, W. J. Cash: A Life ().
  7. ^Rubin,
  8. ^Woodward,

Further reading[edit]

  • Ayers, Edward L. "W.J. Cash, the New South and the Rhetoric of History." in The Mind of the South: Fifty Years Later, edited by Charles W. Eagles (), pp – online
  • Callen, Shirley. "Planter and Poor White in 'Absalom, Absalom!', 'Wash,' and 'The Mind of the South'." South Central Bulletin (): online.
  • Clayton, Bruce. W. J. Cash: A Life (), a scholarly biography
  • Cobb, James C. "Does Mind No Longer Matter? The South, the Nation, and the Mind of the South, " Journal of Southern History 57#4 (), pp.&#;– online
  • Dunbar, Leslie W. "The changing mind of the south: The exposed nerve." Journal of Politics (): online
  • Eagles, Charles W., ed. The Mind of the South: fifty years later (University Press of Mississippi, ).
  • Escott, Paul D., ed. W. J. Cash and the Minds of the South (Louisiana State University Press, ).
  • Fitter, Chris. "W. J. Cash and the Southerner as Superman: Philosophic Contexts of 'The Mind of the South'." Southern Literary Journal (): online.
  • Jansson, David R. "Internal orientalism in America: W J Cash’s The Mind of the South and the spatial construction of American national identity." Political Geography (): online
  • Jenkins, McKay. The South in Black and White: Race, Sex, and Literature in the s (Univ of North Carolina Press, ).
  • Mathis, Ray. "Mythology and the Mind of the New South." Georgia Historical Quarterly (): online.
  • May, Robert E. "Cashing in on Dixie?." Reviews in American History (): excerpt
  • Morrison, Joseph. L. W. J. Cash: Southern Prophet: A Biography and Reader () online
  • Morrison, Joseph L. "The Obsessive 'mind' of W.J. Cash." Virginia Quarterly Review (): online.
  • O'Brien, Michael. "W. J. Cash, Hegel, and the South." Journal of Southern History (): online
  • Rubin, Louis D. "W. J. Cash after fifty years." Virginia Quarterly Review (): online.
  • Weaks-Baxter, Mary. Reclaiming the American farmer: the reinvention of a regional mythology in twentieth-century southern writing (LSU Press, ).
  • Woodward, C. Vann. American counterpoint: Slavery and racism in the North-South dialogue () pp – online

Primary sources[edit]

  • W.J. Cash. The Mind Of The South () online

External links[edit]

Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._J._Cash

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