Saturday, May 14, 2011

A dust jacket blurb that doesn't mince words

The dust jacket for this 1938 edition of "The Wasted Land" by Gerald W. Johnson is tattered and torn. But one reviewer's excerpt on the front still packs quite a punch:
"This book should be compulsory reading for everybody south of the Potomac and Ohio who can read, and the illiterates should have it read to them." -- Knoxville Journal
The inside flap of the dust jacket describes in a more detail what Johnson meant when he referred to "The Wasted Land":
"[A] Southern region 'capable of growing every crop that can be grown anywhere in the United States,' but given over to a collapsing one-crop system -- this is what Gerald Johnson see when he looks below the Potomac. ... The complete wreck of the cotton economy is plainly in sight; and with a waste 'so titanic as to be incomprehensible' -- 97,000,000 acres of land made useless by erosion, leaching, and overcropping, and 3,500,000 men lost by emigration alone -- 'fifty years more of waste at the present rate will do the work which, once done, cannot be undone save by the work of centuries, if at all.'"
And that doesn't even mention the devastation that the boll weevil had brought to the cotton industry by the 1920s!

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