Imani Perry is the New York Times bestselling author of Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry; Breathe: A Letter to My Sons; Vexy Thing: On Gender and Liberation; and May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem. Her latest book, South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation (Ecco), is a journey through the history, rituals, and landscapes of the American South – and an argument for why you must understand the South to understand America. Perry, a Black woman from Birmingham, Alabama, returns to the region she has always called home and considers it with fresh eyes. We think we know the South. Even those who have never lived there can rattle off a list of signifiers: the Civil War, Gone with the Wind, the Ku Klux Klan, plantations, football, Jim Crow, slavery. But the region’s idiosyncrasies and habits are stranger and more complex than much of the country tends to acknowledge. Perry argues that the meaning of “American” is inextricably linked with the South – and that our understanding of its history and culture is the key to understanding our nation as a whole.