True South - hardcover

$ 29.95 


True South - Henry Hampton and "Eyes on the Prize," the Landmark Television Series That Reframed the Civil Rights Movement

The inside story of the making of Eyes on the Prize, one of the most important and influential TV shows in history. Published on the 30th anniversary of the initial broadcast, which reached 100 million viewers.
Henry Hampton’s 1987 landmark multipart television series, Eyes on the Prize, an eloquent, plainspoken chronicle of the civil rights movement, is now the classic narrative of that history. Before Hampton, the movement’s history had been written or filmed by whites and weighted heavily toward Dr. King’s telegenic leadership. Eyes on the Prize told the story from the point of view of ordinary people inside the civil rights movement. Hampton shifted the focus from victimization to strength, from white saviors to black courage. He recovered and permanently fixed the images we now all remember (but had been lost at the time)—Selma and Montgomery, pickets and fire hoses, ballot boxes and mass meetings.
Jon Else was Hampton’s series producer and his moving book focuses on the tumultuous eighteen months in 1985 and 1986 when Eyes on the Prize was finally created. It’s a point where many wires cross: the new telling of African American history, the complex mechanics of documentary making, the rise of social justice film, and the politics of television. And because Else, like Hampton and many of the key staffers, was himself a veteran of the movement, his book braids together battle tales from their own experiences as civil rights workers in the south in the 1960s.
Hampton was not afraid to show the movement’s raw realities: conflicts between secular and religious leaders, the shift toward black power and armed black resistance in the face of savage white violence. It is all on the screen, and the fight to get it all into the films was at times as ferocious as the history being depicted. Henry Hampton utterly changed the way social history is told, taught, and remembered today.


“It’s hard to imagine a better person than Mr. Else to tell this story. . . . His book does several things at once. On one level, it’s a biography of Mr. Hampton . . . On another, it’s a lucid recap of many of the signal events of the civil rights movement. . . . True South is a series of braided stories that are each well told . . . A warm and intelligent book.”
—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

Reading this book feels like reliving the great stories of a legendary party from days gone by, one that continues to inspire. Else, a producer par excellence, is also a talented writer. . . . His memories are rich with detail and surprisingly candid.”
San Francisco Chronicle

No one is better suited to write this moving account of perhaps the greatest American documentary series ever made. . . . Else tells the story with the compassion and eloquence it deserves.”—Adam Hochschild, author of KING LEOPOLD’S GHOST, BURY THE CHAINS, and TO END ALL WARS

About the author: Jon Else was series producer and cinematographer for Eyes on the Prize and has produced and directed many award-winning documentaries, including The Day After Trinity and Cadillac Desert. Else has been nominated for two Academy Awards and three Emmys, and is the winner of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and one Emmy, several Alfred I. DuPont and Peabody Awards, and the Sundance Special Jury Prize and Sundance Filmmaker’s Trophy. He is Professor and North Gate Chair in Journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

  • Author: Jon Else
  • Date published: Jan 2017
  • hardcover
  • size: 6 x 9
  • pages: 416