Jonathan Mirsky

Dining at Lizard’s Thicket

Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads

By Paul Theroux

Hamish Hamilton 441pp £20 order from our bookshop

I read this inspiring and depressing book a few weeks after a young man in Charleston, South Carolina, sporting Confederate flag images and apartheid slogans, and using a gun given to him by his father for his birthday, shot dead nine black churchgoers. Their families forgave the killer. The Confederate flag that had been flying over the state house was finally hauled down and consigned to a museum.

I say depressing because what Paul Theroux learned in his year-and-a-half drive through the Deep South is

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