Jack Bass

Meet the Author

Jack Bass
Jack Bass is author or co-author of eight nonfiction books about the American South. His works have focused on Southern politics, race relations, and the role of law in shaping the civil rights era. He is Professor Emeritus of Humanities and Social Sciences at the College of Charleston.

A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Bass studied as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard and received a Ph.D. in American Studies from Emory University. After 13 years as a newspaper reporter and editor, twice named South Carolina “journalist of the year,” he spent two years as a research scholar at Duke University and 18 months at the Institute of Legal History at University of South Carolina. He served five years as director of American South Special Projects at U. S. C., where he produced a 14-part television course, “The American South Comes of Age” and a PBS documentary, “A Different Dixie: Portraits of Change.” He taught for 11 years as a professor of journalism at the University of Mississippi. He has written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Atlanta Constitution, Washington Post, The New Republic, and The Nation.

In announcing Bass the winner of the 1994 Robert Kennedy Book Award grand prize for Taming the Storm: The Life and Times of Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., Arthur Schlesinger Jr. acclaimed it as "a strong and evocative work that illuminates the struggle for racial justice."

In reviewing Bass’s, STROM: The Complicated Personal and Political Life of Strom Thurmond (co-authored with Marilyn Thompson), reviewer Steve Weinberg concluded in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that readers “will be rewarded with first-rate reporting, crisp writing, and enough interpretation to conclude that – love him or hate him – Thurmond’s life mattered.” Michael Lind wrote for The Washington Post, “Bass and Thompson make a persuasive case that Thurmond was one of the most influential American politicians of the 20th century.” In Foreign Affairs, Walter Russell Mead said STROM “opens a window into a region and a culture that foreigners and non-southern Americans must understand to have a clear picture of how the United States works.”

In calling Unlikely Heroes "an important book," Jonathan Yardley wrote, "Jack Bass has done a first-rate job of cutting to the heart of a complex and at times ambiguous subject." Anthony Lewis wrote that Bass "has brought this recent history to life, telling us much that we had not known." The book tells the story of how a handful of Southern federal judges, most of them Republicans appointed by President Eisenhower, transformed the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown. v. Board of Education into a broad mandate for racial justice.

David Broder characterized Transformation of Southern Politics as "a prime source for all those who follow contemporary politics . . . a compelling story with insights on every page."

In a review of The Orangeburg Massacre, Roy Reed wrote in The New York Times Book Review, "It is too often true that the only redress of a great wrong is good reporting of it. . . This book is excellent reporting, and it apparently will stand as the only righting of what went wrong at Orangeburg."

Bass’s most recent book, co-authored with Scott Poole, is The Palmetto State, The Making of Modern South Carolina, Bass’s eighth book about the American South. Former Southern Historical Association President Dan Carter says, “Politics, literature, popular culture, the greatest transformation of race relations: it’s all here in this new narrative history of the Palmetto State.”

His ninth book, Justice Abandoned, is tentatively scheduled for publication in 2012. Its central theme is to tell in full the story of the Supreme Court’s central role in ending Reconstruction and undermining congressional intent through its interpretation of the 14th Amendments to the Constitution. The book will combine Supreme Court and Southern history.

He is married to food writer Nathalie Dupree.

Selected Works

Biography
STROM: The Complicated Personal and Political Life of Strom Thurmond
The definitive biography of the legendary conservative Senator from South Carolina, with new revelations about his life and career.
Taming the Storm: The Life and Times of Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr. and the South’s Fight over Civil Rights
“A splendid biography of this legendary federal judge.”
–John Grisham
History
The Orangeburg Massacre
A thoughtful and thorough exploration of a stained page in American history.
Unlikely Heroes
A vivid account of the Brown decision implemented by southern federal judges committed to the rule of law.

Quick Links

Find Authors