Welcome to an overlooked chapter in American history. Combining the details of a compelling story and the significance of precedent-setting Supreme Court decisions provides the ingredients for a terrific book. Dallas Morning News journalist Curriden and attorney Phillips deliver just that, presenting a reconstructed version of events that could be mistaken for a blockbuster movie if not for the un-Hollywood-like ending. When a white woman is assaulted and raped in Chattanooga, Tenn., in 1906, it doesn’t take long before a black man is accused. The racial dynamics of the community, the characters of the sheriff and judge, and the obviously flawed conviction of the accused, Ed Johnson, would be rejected as unimaginative plagiarism if this were a work of fiction. When two local black lawyers decide to appeal, however, events take a very unfamiliar twist as they end up in front of Supreme Court Justice John M. Harlan requesting a stay of execution. Even more surprising is their success, for at this time, no precedent establishing the authority of the US Supreme Court to intervene in state criminal matters existed. Upon hearing the news from Washington, the local mob lynches Johnson with nearly overt cooperation from the sheriff. To the amazement of local officials, the incident doesn—t end there, for the members of the Supreme Court are considerably agitated by this affront to their authority. Federal investigations ensue and lead to contempt of court charges against the sheriff. These unprecedented charges lead to an equally unprecedented conviction, and the position of the Supreme Court as the ultimate court of appeal is established. Of course, the sentences are light and the prejudice that killed Ed Johnson remains more vigorous than the faint hope for justice that inspired his lawyers. Nevertheless, in a century that ultimately saw the Supreme Court take the lead in fighting institutionalized racism, this case was a watershed and deserves our attention.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-571-19952-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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