Carol Polsgrove

Carol Polsgrove, author of Divided Minds: Intellectuals and the Civil
Rights Movement,
is a journalism professor at Indiana University, Bloomington.
She grew up in Nigeria, then a British colony.

Recent Articles

Our Votes, Our Guns: Robert Mugabe and the Tragedy of Zimbabwe by Martin Meredith

Our Votes, Our Guns: Robert Mugabe and the Tragedy of Zimbabwe By Martin Meredith. PublicAffairs, 243 pages, $26.00 By the time Robert Mugabe had led a guerrilla war against Ian Smith's white regime in Rhodesia and spent 11 years in prison, whatever idealism he had known in his youth had been battered out of him. Though he considered himself a socialist when he came to power in 1980, Mugabe's entire 22-year reign in what became the Republic of Zimbabwe has been marked not by concern for the welfare of his people but by his own determination to be president for life. As every day brings new accounts of political repression in Zimbabwe, Martin Meredith's timely book reminds us that this is politics as usual for Mugabe. Under Mugabe's rule, Zimbabwe has been a terrorized country. Villagers have been massacred, journalists tortured. Mugabe has confiscated farms from whites and from blacks who don't fall into political line (and then given the farms to his friends); black farm workers have...

Posner Proves His Case

Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline By Richard A. Posner. Harvard University Press, 408 pages, $29.95 Richard A. Posner's Public Intellectuals reminds me of my grandmother's attic: here an elephant table brought home from Africa; there a cuckoo clock; all around, a miscellany of items collected under one roof. Alas, Posner, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, intends his newest book to be more than a hodgepodge. He seeks to demonstrate that "the public intellectual can be studied in a systematic and fruitful fashion." With that goal in mind, he has equipped the book with several academic accoutrements. He has a thesis, in two parts: (1) that public intellectuals say foolish things because they are subject to so few quality controls, although (2) it doesn't matter, because no one pays much attention to them anyway. Following an economic model, he argues that the proliferation of media outlets has enlarged the market for public intellectuals, who produce "...

Southern Exposures

The Last Days: A Son's Story of Sin and Segregation at the Dawn of the New South, by Charles Marsh. Basic Books, 294 pages, $25.00. Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama/The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution, by Diane McWhorter. Simon and Schuster, 701 pages, $35.00. The white resistance to the civil rights movement has not received the kind of attention from historians that the movement itself has--understandably, since there is nothing heroic about the resistance. I myself once thought about writing a biography of Mississippi Senator James Eastland, the political linchpin of the resistance, and went so far as to call the University of Mississippi Law School, where his papers were kept. I was told they were stowed in boxes in a basement--uncataloged and inaccessible. A library staffer explained to me, in hushed tones, that Senator Eastland was--well--not quite politically correct. I appreciate, therefore, Diane McWhorter's and Charles Marsh's very different accounts of...