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TRUE SOUTH

HENRY HAMPTON AND EYES ON THE PRIZE, THE LANDMARK TELEVISION SERIES THAT REFRAMED THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT

An illuminating look at racial strife and TV history.

Memoir, history, and biography meld in this account of the creation of a famed civil rights documentary.

Producer and cinematographer Else (Journalism/Univ. of California Graduate School of Journalism), a MacArthur Fellow whose honors include several Peabody awards and four Emmys, offers a revealing chronicle of the making of the 1987 PBS series Eyes on the Prize. The author became involved in the civil rights movement in 1963 when he was a 19-year-old college student and took up political activist Allard Lowenstein’s challenge to “draw fire and publicity in Mississippi” by registering black voters. John Kennedy and Medgar Evers had just been shot, and Else was filled with “missionary zeal.” In 1964, he left school to work in Mississippi full time, courting danger in an area where the Ku Klux Klan flourished. Twenty years later, responding to an article in a Corporation for Public Broadcasting newsletter, he “cold-called” Henry Hampton, involved in a project to produce a TV series about the civil rights struggle. Else characterizes Hampton, who had joined the NAACP as an undergraduate at Washington University and who stood with Martin Luther King Jr. on the Pettus bridge in Selma, as nothing less than a genius, a “visionary leader” who “insisted on a bold multicultural, multiethnic, collaborative production process” that involved men and women, blacks and whites: “For him, diversity in teams trumped the powerful statement that an all-black production would have made.” Hampton also privileged the voices of ordinary men and women who participated in the movement rather than focus on people and images that had, by 1985, become iconic. Hampton viewed the civil rights movement “as a patriotic story of America’s realization of its ideals” and wanted white Americans to react positively to it. In detailing the financial struggle involved and the arduous process of finding interviewees and eliciting their stories, Else reveals the complexities of any such production.

An illuminating look at racial strife and TV history.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-98093-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

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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