Jon Meacham New York Times August 22, 2017
He didn’t really want to go back, but he knew he had to. Bearing witness, seeking to understand, confronting past and present in their complexity and pain: It was all part of what Robert Penn Warren had called “the awful responsibility of Time” in his 1946 novel “All the King’s Men…” The result of Warren’s journey was his 1956 book “Segregation: The Inner Conflict in the South,” a reportorial portrait of the emotions of a moment not unlike our own — as painful as that is to note. Warren, who had written sympathetically of segregation in a 1930 essay he later repudiated, sought out the voices of African-Americans and Ku Klux Klansmen, of ministers and teachers, businessmen and professors, farmers and lawyers. Reading Warren alongside other midcentury works by Maya Angelou, Richard Wright and Marshall Frady, who profiled George Wallace, is to see anew the truth that Appomattox was as much a beginning as it was an end.
Credit Eddie Hausner/The New York Times