Atticus Finch

Atticus Finch

The Biography

Who was the real Atticus Finch?

The publication of Go Set a Watchman in 2015 forever changed how we think about Atticus Finch. Once seen as a paragon of decency, he was reduced to a small-town racist. How are we to understand this transformation?

In Atticus Finch, historian Joseph Crespino draws on exclusive sources to reveal how Harper Lee’s father provided the central inspiration for each of her books. A lawyer and newspaperman, A. C. Lee was a principled opponent of mob rule, yet he was also a racial paternalist. Harper Lee created the Atticus of Watchman out of the ambivalence she felt toward white southerners like him. But when a militant segregationist movement arose that mocked his values, she revised the character in To Kill a Mockingbird to defend her father and to remind the South of its best traditions. A story of family and literature amid the upheavals of the twentieth century, Atticus Finch is essential to understanding Harper Lee, her novels, and her times.
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Genre: Nonfiction / Biography & Autobiography / Literary

On Sale: May 8th 2018

Price: $17.99

Page Count: 272

ISBN-13: 9781541644953

What's Inside

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"Besides drawing on newly available correspondence, [Crespino] examines hundreds of editorials in which A.C. expressed opinions on local and national issues to offer a nuanced portrait of a man of 'paternalistic sensibilities.' ... An informed look at Southern history refracted through the lens of fiction."—Kirkus Reviews
"A thoughtful, fascinating study offering fresh revelations and insights about To Kill a Mockingbird.... Atticus Finch is a valuable new key to the mystery that is Ms. Lee."—Diane McWhorter, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Carry Me Home
But Joe Crespino's beautiful study of Atticus Finch, in fact and fiction, also brings to life a writer, her father, and an entire people--all caught in history's clenches. It is an impressive achievement, from start to finish."—Sean Wilentz, author of The Rise of American Democracy
"In this brilliantly researched and beautifully written work, Joe Crespino explores the fictions of Atticus Finch to expose the facts about white southerners in the age of Jim Crow."—Kevin Kruse, author of One Nation Under God
"In this incisive and engaging work, Joseph Crespino lets us see all the iterations of Atticus Finch--the hero of 'Mockingbird,' the villain of 'Watchman,' and, most fascinatingly, the complex, conflicted real-life inspiration for both, Harper Lee's father, Amasa Coleman Lee."—Samuel G. Freedman, Columbia School of Journalism
"To Kill a Mockingbird was a publishing sensation in its day, a staple of school reading lists for decades, and an enduring lens for understanding the politics of civil rights. Joe Crespino's smart and highly readable 'biography' of Atticus Finch gives us the story behind the story, from Harper Lee's family history to her emergence as a writer to her later fame. In so doing, he recaptures the lost diversity and complexity of thought and the perspectives about race and integration not just in midcentury America but within the white South itself."—David Greenberg, author of Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency