Columbus: Joseph Crespino on Atticus Finch
Join us at Book Culture on Columbus as Joseph Crespino discusses Atticus Finch: The Biography on Tuesday, May 22nd at 7pm. Sam Freedman will be joining Joseph in discussion.
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.
Joseph Crespino is the Jimmy Carter Professor of history at Emory University. He is the author of In Search of Another Country, winner of the 2008 Lillian Smith Book Award from the Southern Regional Council, and Strom Thurmond's America. He lives in Decatur, Georgia.
Samuel G. Freedman is an award-winning author, columnist, and professor. A former columnist for The New York Times and a professor at Columbia University, he is the author of the eight acclaimed books. Freedman was a staff reporter for The New York Times from 1981 through 1987. Freedman has contributed to numerous other publications and websites, including The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Daily Beast, New York, Rolling Stone, USA Today, Salon, Slate, Tablet, The Forward, Ha’aretz, The Undefeated, The Root, and BeliefNet.