The Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author of Confederates in the Attic follows the trail of Frederick Law Olmsted, 19th-century reporter and legendary landscape architect, across the American South.
... opened my eyes to so many things ... Horwitz rightly prides himself on being a curious and empathetic freestyle conversationalist ... every bit as enlightening and alive with detail, absurdity and colorful characters as Confederates in the Attic was. That said, though, at a time when the American divide seems deeper and more entrenched, both books strike me as more somber than comic.
Mr. Horwitz’s journalistic approach is to remain open to experience and allow readers to form judgments for themselves. As in his previous works, his generosity of spirit enables him to strike up conversations with a broad cross section of Americans living and working below the Mason-Dixon Line ... it is the people Mr. Horwitz encounters that make his book a compelling report on the state of our present disunion. Speaking with a seemingly endless cast of perceptive, funny and welcoming Southerners, he debunks the preconceptions of his Northern neighbors who imagine 'deep-red Texas' as little more than an 'arid, alien, and hostile' territory ... Gradually a picture emerges of a region still wrestling with the aftereffects of slavery, the Civil War and the failure of Reconstruction ... The Civil War continues to be fought, in Mr. Horwitz’s telling, over the relative status of white and black people.
Horwitz is an engaging writer and apparently an engaging guy as he banters and quizzes a range of people from the smugly secure to the desperately homeless ...Spying on the South was written before a change in the political weather last year, so it seems outdated. ... His blend of Olmstead’s 1854 views and his modern experiences produce a readable travelogue without a strong political bent.