Oxford University Press, 2005
James C. Cobb’s Away Down South: A History of Southern Identity is that rare book published by an academic press that can be wrapped up and given as a Christmas present. An engaging, accessible, and thoroughly enjoyable read, Away Down South is a comprehensive history of the ways different southerners, nearly all of them writers of one sort or another, have thought about their region and their own relationship to it. Known for his wit as well as his erudition, Cobb is in his element in this book, leaping lightly from U. B. Phillips to Willie Morris to NASCAR. At the same time, he is self-consciously aware of the serious nature of his subject, remarking at the end that this book was written against a contemporary international backdrop of genocide.