The book, now in a new printing by the University of Arkansas Press, reflects little of the turmoil in Morris’s own life or the radicalism of the magazine he was editing. He was a loyal son of Yazoo City and wanted very much to see its citizens overcome the racial disgrace of the early 1960s. He talked to all factions, black and white, and was pleased when massive integration of the schools, ordered by the courts, seemed to work. Yet, as his widow, Joanne Prichard Morris, observes in her deft afterword, Willie Morris lived to see Yazoo City resegregated, with almost all the white students enrolled in private academies. Near the end of his life—he died in 1999—Morris conceded that he got it wrong. But read as journalism created in its own moment, Yazoo was right and remains so, a tribute to the better angels Morris saw in his hometown.

 

James Boylan is CJR’s founding editor.