BookView review: Sit-Ins, Drive-Ins and Uncle Sam by Bill Slawter

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Atmosphere Press

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Pub date November 22, 2021

ISBN 978-1639881543

Price $18.99 (USD) Paperback, $7.94 Kindle edition

Author interview

Slawter offers a comprehensive yet sharply probing overview of the 1960s while drawing an eloquent portrait of his own coming-of-age journey as a young white boy in the South against the backdrop of the civil rights revolution in his debut memoir. Beginning with the account of his younger years in the working-class neighborhood in Greensboro, North Carolina, Slawter writes about his early childhood, his school days, the summer jobs, the adulthood, and his time in the military. Episodes from R & B concerts, drive-in restaurants and theaters, popular tv shows, such as The Lone Ranger, Gene Autry among others, famous movies, barbecue pits, hamburger joints, road trips, and beach weekends all feature prominently in the book. He populates the narrative with people in his own life, including family, friends, and acquaintances plus a colorful cast of real historical figures, including presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson, Dr. Martin Luther King, Billy Graham, Muhammad Ali, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Jr., and scores more. Slawter’s refined historical intuition combined with his novelist’s sensibility make for a sophisticated, absorbing narrative that transports readers right into the era. While on the surface, the book seems like a memoir, Slawter’s frank exploration into class and racial disparity of the era and the way things are still unsettled in so many ways with race relations make it an ideal source book of history. Both a coming-of-age story and a brilliant interpretation of the history, this is a vital book for any library or personal collection.

***

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