orn in Memphis, I grew up in Brooklyn, a combination

that has left me with a cracker edginess. Attempting to soften both influences, I attended the University of Maryland. It didn’t work, but I learned a lot, and much of what I have accomplished since leaving College Park I owe to my fellow students and faculty I encountered there.


Thanks to the nurturing I received at Maryland, I’ve been fortunate to publish sixteen books on various aspects of Southern and American (they’re different) history. Some

of them, such as Cotton Fields and Skyscrapers, Black, White, and Southern, and Still Fighting the Civil War,

managed to win awards. I’ve been sharing what I’ve learned with my students at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte where I’m the Robert Lee Bailey Professor of History.


I confess I do not have many hobbies outside of history. My work is my joy. But in the interstices of teaching, writing, and researching, I enjoy the music of Buddy Holly and Gustav Mahler (though not at the same time), reading Southern novels, jogging (I used to call it running), and watching baseball.