By turns sobering, frightening, and thrilling, this meticulous account of the power and tenacity of officially sanctioned...




A spellbinding true story of racism, privilege, and official corruption.

In 1957, in the tiny central Florida town of Okahumpka, a prominent white woman was raped; she described her attacker as a young "Negro with bushy hair." Lake County sheriff and reputed KKK leader Willis McCall indiscriminately rounded up nearly two dozen young black men for interrogation, ultimately holding two incommunicado for days as prime suspects. But then McCall astonished everyone by releasing them both and charging Jesse Daniels, a poor, mentally challenged 19-year-old white youth who could not possibly have committed the crime. He colluded with a prosecutor and judge to pack Daniels off to be warehoused at the state mental hospital with neither a trial nor a legal determination of insanity. It seemed the case was closed but for the persistence of McCall's nemesis, Mabel Norris Reese, editor of a local weekly. Pulitzer Prize winner King (Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America, 2012, etc.) thus launches an electrifying 20-year saga of murders, beatings, cross-burnings, bombings, fabricated evidence, and conveniently missing documents, all part of a racist reign of terror victimizing both blacks and whites and supported by an impenetrable elite of white citrus planters, cops, lawyers, politicians, and judges. The author draws on thousands of pages of unpublished documents, including court filings and testimony, hospital records, legislative materials, and personal files, to assemble this page-turner, suffused with a palpable atmosphere of dread. He clearly documents the lawless ferocity with which much of Florida resisted granting equal rights to blacks even as it marketed itself as a space-age vacation paradise. From the opening pages, King's narrative barrels forward, leaving readers wondering what it will take for justice to prevail.

By turns sobering, frightening, and thrilling, this meticulous account of the power and tenacity of officially sanctioned racism recalls a dark era that America is still struggling to leave behind.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-18338-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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