Profitez de ce titre dès maintenant, et de millions d'autres, avec un essai gratuit

Seulement $9.99/mois après l'essai. Annulez à tout moment.

Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America

Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America

Lire l'aperçu

Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America

évaluations:
4/5 (63 évaluations)
Longueur:
711 pages
11 heures
Éditeur:
Sortie:
Mar 6, 2012
ISBN:
9780062097712
Format:
Livre

Note de l'éditeur

Riveting & lauded…

Thurgood Marshall risks his life to defend four black men falsely accused of rape in King’s riveting & lauded history of a pivotal time for both the future Supreme Court justice and for civil rights in America.

Description

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

“A must-read, cannot-put-down history.” — Thomas Friedman, New York Times

Arguably the most important American lawyer of the twentieth century, Thurgood Marshall was on the verge of bringing the landmark suit Brown v. Board of Education before the U.S. Supreme Court when he became embroiled in a case that threatened to change the course of the civil rights movement and cost him his life.

In 1949, Florida's orange industry was booming, and citrus barons got rich on the backs of cheap Jim Crow labor with the help of Sheriff Willis V. McCall, who ruled Lake County with murderous resolve. When a white seventeen-year-old girl cried rape, McCall pursued four young black men who dared envision a future for themselves beyond the groves. The Ku Klux Klan joined the hunt, hell-bent on lynching the men who came to be known as "the Groveland Boys."

Associates thought it was suicidal for Marshall to wade into the "Florida Terror," but the young lawyer would not shrink from the fight despite continuous death threats against him.

Drawing on a wealth of never-before-published material, including the FBI's unredacted Groveland case files, as well as unprecedented access to the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund files, Gilbert King shines new light on this remarkable civil rights crusader.

Éditeur:
Sortie:
Mar 6, 2012
ISBN:
9780062097712
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

Gilbert King has written about U.S. Supreme Court history for the New York Times and the Washington Post, and is a featured contributor to Smithsonian magazine's history blog, Past Imperfect. He is the author of The Execution of Willie Francis: Race, Murder, and the Search for Justice in the American South. He lives in New York City with his wife and two daughters.


Lié à Devil in the Grove

Livres associé

Articles associés


Avis

Ce que les gens pensent de Devil in the Grove

4.2
63 évaluations / 25 Avis
Qu'avez-vous pensé ?
Évaluation : 0 sur 5 étoiles

Avis critiques

  • This riveting Pulitzer Prize winner brings to light a little-known court case. Young civil rights attorney (and future Supreme Court justice) Thurgood Marshall risks his life to defend four black men falsely accused of rape at a pivotal time in America history.

    Scribd Editors

Avis des lecteurs

  • (5/5)
    This book was heartrending. Considering it was after WWII when there were many Black servicemen, you would not think things happened the way they did. The book depicts many cases that involved the NAACP with Thurgood Marshall as the lead attorney. The main case in the book, The Groveland Boys, revolves around 4 black young men accused of raping a young white woman. Evidence showed it was a false accusation but the climate in the south allowed and encouraged the jury to ignore the evidence. I never realized that Florida has such a bad civil rights record. The coverups by government officials and law enforcement, including the FBI, governors etc is appalling. I am glad I read this book after it was recommended to me, but it is very disturbing to think that this type of thing was going on right up into 1970. Scary stuff.
  • (3/5)
    This story is truly horrifying. What a farce is Florida justice. King, though, misses the forest for the trees. We get blow-by-blow details of the trials and lots of essentially meaningless details. But I don't think King ever gives a bigger picture of racism in Lake County and Florida. Thurgood Marshall is a very compelling character, but the scope of the book is so narrow that we only get tangents on his life. I wanted more.
  • (5/5)
    This is an in-depth look at a 1949 case in Groveland, Fla where 4 black men were accused of raping a white woman. Of course, no rape occurred. At least not by these 4 men. But that didn't stop the local sheriff, prosecutor, and judge and jury from beating confessions out of them, charging them, trying and convicting them, and sentencing them to death. The NCAAP provided a legal defense for the men, appealing the verdict all the way to the US Supreme Court - twice. Only one of the 4 men are still living. Two didn't survive the trials. The fourth didn't survive a trip back to town for a funeral shortly after his parole from prison in 1969. The details are incredible - I won't even try to summarize as I won't do justice to the impact they have. Suffice to say, even though I knew this kind of thing went on in the South, I still was shocked by the brutality and inhumanity of the "system". And the Sheriff, Willis V McCall, was nothing short of a monster who claimed as late as 1994 that "I never hurt anyone ... or killed anyone who didn't deserve killing" (pg 357). Amazingly, he was re-elected to his office 8 times, narrowly losing in 1972 only because he couldn't devote sufficient time to his campaign. He had been suspended from office pending legal actions that stemmed from allegations that a mentally-challenged black man had been kicked to death while in McCall's custody. (McCall was acquitted.)But I'm digressing. The book isn't about Sheriff McCall, it is about Thurgood Marshall. Marshall was head of the NCAAP's Legal Defense Fund, which provided representation to black defendants in cases all over the south. Initially, his primary focus was the desegregation of schools, and he was preparing Brown v Board of Education to be presented to the US Supreme Court at the same time Groveland was also in appeals. But increasingly, the NCAAP provided defense in cases where blacks were being deprived of their full legal rights in criminal matters. Eventually, as we all know, he was appointed to the US Supreme Court by President Johnson, the first African-American to receive that appointment. However, this isn't a biography of Marshall's life. It is a look at his role in changing America, with Groveland as the featured case in point.I've heard many people complain about the excessive rights that defendants receive, to the detriment of the rights of victims and other law abiding citizens, or so it seems. I've expressed the same sentiment myself. However, this book has opened my eyes and shown me the reason those rights are so important. There was a time, in the not-too-distant past, when a large portion of the population had virtually no rights as defendants. Regardless of the constitution. It came as a result of the work by Thurgood Marshall, and others like him, who overcame hardship and extreme risk to their personal safety, to insure that every American is given the opportunity to receive a fair trial.Highly recommended.
  • (4/5)
    Devil in the Grove is a riveting account of a real life crime committed in central Florida in 1949. Four young black men were accused of raping a young white women during the era of Jim Crow and segregation. A highly biased and racist community demanded immediate 'justice' in the form of lynching. However, what began as an open and shut case against the Groveland Four ended up in two trials, several Supreme Court challenges, multiple national new articles, several terrorists acts and two of the four men being murdered. Thurgood Marshall, a star defense lawyer for the NAACP spearheaded the legal team that defended the Groveland Four. He and his team worked tirelessly against the odds and a community that was hopelessly racist. One of the chief obstacles in the search for truth and justice was in the form of the town sheriff, Willis V. McCall. McCall was unfortunately the stereo-typical southern sheriff for that time and place. Deeply bigoted and embedded with the Klan, personally greedy and narcissistic, he was not above lying, brutality or even murder to keep his little pocket of Florida under his thumb. Google Willis McCall and prepare to be depressed. For anyone who longs for the good ole days, this little piece of history is exhibit A as to why those days weren't all that great.Woven throughout the story is the biography of Thurgood Marshall, and the history of several other civil rights cases that occurred throughout that time. Including Marshall's meticulous preparation for his landmark argument of Brown v. Board of Education. But the heart of the story is the Groveland case. A case that was tragic and devastating for the accused men, with only the thinnest of silver linings for the two lucky enough to survive the Florida justice system and Sherriff McCall.
  • (5/5)
    In this 2013 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, Devil in the Grove is about Thurgood Marshall's ("Mr Civil Rights" and arguably one of the best lawyers of the 20th century) work to save three black men accused of gang raping a 17 year old girl.Gilbert King did an amazing amount of research for this book including reading the FBI's Groveland case files and the NAACP's legal defense files - and this research really shone through. His prose was acerbic at times, and it flowed smoothly keeping my interest the whole way through. Devil in the Grove gave a lot of background information on Thurgood Marshall's life outside of the of the trial, thus bringing a personal light to the story. Gilbert also included stories about KKK activities against lawyers who defended black people accused of rape, which was terrifying and disgusting. Overall, a fantastic book. Read it.
  • (4/5)
    This is a very worthy book, but an unusual one to categorize. On one hand, it very title suggests being offered as a crime story, much like Hampton Sides', Hellhound on His Trail, and, indeed, it starts off that way. On the other hand, there is much coverage of the NAACP and its internal politics, plus that organization's interactions with other civil rights organizations. To that extent, the book shifts more to being a classic history text. The transitions during the first part of the book are not always as smooth as they could be. Yet, ultimately, once all the ground work has been laid out for the reader -- what were Thurgood Marshall and his associates working on and under what conditions were the working -- the narrative flows much more evenly. In the end, the book seems more a political corruption analysis than either a crime story or civil rights history. I also had the distinct impression that the author would have preferred to have written an exciting story about Thurgood Marshall and the monumental Brown v. Board of Education case, but found this was the best way to get across to the reader why Justice Marshall was such a unique and significant American. The Groveland Boys case offered itself more easily to showing the main character in action while amply demonstrating his intelligence and skills. I should also add that, having read several books about civil rights violations and struggles in the Deep South, this book shows some nuances of Southern life interracial dynamics that other worthy books have failed to do as well. Despite its complexities, this book is definitely recommended.
  • (5/5)
    This is an incredible story. I knew nothing about it and was glad to have experienced the dramatic events as if living through them, unaware of what going to happen next. The less you know of the Groveland Case the better this book will be. The characters are made for Hollywood. It's been said that behind every evil is a lie. The lie of slavery is that some humans are sub-human, are less equal. The lie did not end with the Civil War, it was told to younger generations, and is at the heart of the evil in this book as it finds expression in a multitude of ways. The Constitution is the ultimate hero of this story.
  • (5/5)
    Devil in the Grove tells the story of the wrongful prosecution of four young black men for allegedly raping a young white woman in Lake County, Florida, in 1949(it appears likely in retrospect that she had not been raped at all, but she declined to speak to the author as he was researching the book). While the subtitle focuses on Thurgood Marshall, then an attorney with the NAACP, who was part of the defense team, Marshall is only one of a large cast of figures pulled into the case. Gilbert King tells the story as a gripping narrative, full of tension and unexpected twists, but along the way takes opportunities to illuminate African-American culture in the mid-century, the national politics of the Civil Rights movement, and the NAACP's broader litigation strategy. Of course the heart of the history recounts violent and systematic racial injustice, ranging from extraction of false confessions by torture, to extra-legal killings, to a blatantly biased judge overseeing a trial. The narrative paints a very clear picture of just how pervasive and brutal Southern white supremacy was, and how it operated on the ground. Beyond the main theme, the book is sufficiently sophisticated that it offers much else to think about as well. One striking contrast was the difference in outcomes for blacks trying to build decent lives for themselves in rural Florida, who mostly ended up on the losing end no matter how hard they worked - houses burned down, if they weren't actually shot or killed - versus the black (and white) attorneys from the big cities, who risked their lives to represent rural clients, but all ended up with successful careers. Structurally, that's important to King's story - it would be much more depressing but for the knowledge that Marshall ultimately became a Supreme Court justice - but it does mean the history lacks anything like a true happy ending.Another particularly compelling aspect of the history is the contrast between the two leading villains - and while that's not a word the author uses, it is appropriate here. One, Sheriff Willis McCall, is a racist tyrant who is willing to beat or kill anyone who disturbs white supremacy in Lake County. The other, Jesse Hunter, a state attorney dying of leukemia, is committed to law and order, and, while hating McCall for committing murder, uses all his legal skills and racist rhetoric to win a death penalty conviction of a man he knows is innocent. King doesn't ask which is worse; he's a historian, not a moralizer - but it's nearly impossible to read Devil in the Grove without considering the question.
  • (5/5)
    This book well tells a stunning story concerning an alleged rape in Lake County, Florida. Four black men were accused of raping a white teenage woman. One of the accused was hunted down and killed, the other three went to trial, were convicted and the convictions of two of them were reversed by the United States Supreme Court. The two men were taken by the sheriff of Lake County but on the way to the site of the new trial he shot both men, killing one,. assserting they were trying to escape though they were handcuffed to each other. This account tells an often sickening story and is filled with careful research as it tells the astounding story of the events of 1949 thru to the present. I read it because it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction this year. It is the 33rd such winner I have read. At first I was a bit annoyed by the lack of footnotes and the source notes are not as good as they could be, but this is a minor defect and the book is an gripping and astounding read and is well deserving of the prize d it was granted.
  • (4/5)
    This account of a case Thurgood Marshall worked on while an attorney for the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund is an important part of American history that needs to be told. I've given it 4 stars for its merit in documenting that which has often been downplayed and/or repressed. There are many episodes of graphic violence in the narrative, which made it very difficult to read. I am sad that this is part of my country's legacy, and hope that we never forget our capability for unspeakable violence and hatred so that we may strive to be a better citizenry.
  • (5/5)
    A wonderful job of research was done on a troubled and twisted aspect of American History. The book tells the story of four young Black men who are falsely accused of raping a white woman and the extremes that law enforcement would go to make them pay with their lives. The author pays special attention to Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP's role in defending them. The setting is Central Florida in the late 1940's and early 1950's. Even though there was absolutely no proof that the rape even occurred this shows the extent White society would go to find scapegoats for a crime that never happened. This is a period in American History that should never be forgotten. I can certainly see why the book got all the acclaim that it. did.
  • (5/5)
    This book was read beautifully by Peter Francis James. If I could have, I would have given it ten stars. It should be required reading in schools across the country. I grew up, went to school, got degrees, but I was never taught about the injustice in the black community in such a detailed, well researched, honest and compassionate approach. It is inspiring and highly informative. The background of Thurgood Marshall’s life is compelling. In his early days, his fights to end racial tensions and racial bias consumed him and were fraught with danger. A lawyer, he fought for the rights of the black man and woman with a straightforward no-nonsense dedication and fervor. He was married, but he and his wife remained childless. He worked too hard, played too much and often drank too much. He was not always true to his wife, but he always loved her, and they remained together until she died.Thurgood Marshall spent his life fighting for the civil rights of blacks in all avenues of life. He fought for better educational opportunity and won the case in Brown v. Board of Education, granting the right to an equal education, in all schools, for all students, not separate but equal schools. He worked hard for the cause of desegregation and to right the wrongs of the justice system, but the ultimate goal of integration was a long and hard struggle. He fought to overturn the Jim Crow laws that divided the races. His life was often threatened as he fought the attempts of the KKK to defeat all of his efforts. He became the first black United States Supreme Court Justice.Although the book provides the background of Justice Marshall and his decades long fight for equality, it dwells largely on the Groveland Boys Case which was a travesty of justice. It took decades to overturn the verdicts due to corruption and deception. Four black men were framed and beaten to coerce confessions, some were murdered in cold blood by law enforcement for the rape of a white woman, “a flower of the south”, a crime they did not commit, and for which they were falsely accused. They were mistreated by a crooked, twisted law enforcement body and a blind court controlled by racists, judges, sheriffs, the KKK, and politicians, all of whom were complicit in allowing this corrupt behavior to dominate their justice system. The true story of the supposed rape and the night of the alleged crime is revealed slowly. The research leaves no stone unturned. As years go by, as people are murdered and terrorized to prevent them from telling the truth, whites and blacks, the tension builds as if it were a novel. It is a story one would wish had been made up from whole cloth; it is such a mockery of justice and an example of outright evil. The case is about two young black men who made the mistake of stopping to help a young white couple, stranded in a disabled vehicle, on a dark and lonely road which they just happened to pass by. It was to prove to be a terrible accident of fate. From that act of kindness a nightmare developed that extended for decades, ending in bloodshed and death. The true criminals and perjurers paraded around protected by the tactics of those who wore hoods. According to the book, even as late as 2005, there were possible repercussions from the Groveland Case, which occurred in Lake County, Florida. I live in Florida and I am ashamed, even though I was not a resident at the time this “so-called crime” took place. The complacency of everyone towards the plight of the falsely accused men, including the Governor, the courts and the media, was shameful, and the idea that it might still exist is appalling and inexcusable. Without the efforts of the NAACP and the Legal Defense Fund, and finally the media and a few good men, justice, however mediocre, might never have been served.After reading this book, it is easy to understand why people of color do not trust law enforcement and react with such vehemence when they suspect foul play against their race. They have no historic context to believe anything else. It was so easy for them to be framed, murdered and disposed of as collateral damage to the cause of white supremacy. They had no recourse, no way to fight back, and it took decades to achieve anything to improve their situation. The wheels of justice moved in slow motion and often not at all. My view of the Civil Rights struggle was distorted by a lack of education and a lack of information. This book was an eye-opening, unpleasant and painful history lesson. My ignorance of the real experiences, horrors and helplessness of the blacks everywhere, apart and aside from the common knowledge of the tragedy of slavery, was woefully obvious and speaks to a need for a broader education on black history for elementary school children, with full disclosure. The Southerners were adamant about separating the races. They didn’t see themselves as hypocrites, but rather as self-righteous keepers of the peace, their warped sense of ethics and their agrarian economy. Because of the atmosphere of fear in the South, even blacks shied away from supporting black causes and did not testify to save their brethren, but rather accepted money and bribes to lie. Their very lives, livelihoods, families and children were often threatened if they didn’t comply, and that went also for white people who went against the fray. Their homes were destroyed, businesses ruined, and their bodies were beaten and left for dead, if not actually dead! The book illustrates the decades of Thurgood Marshall’s dedication to the advancement of the cause of civil rights, so often at great risk to his own life. This book reads like a thriller; it is a book which one would wish was fiction, rather than fact, so horrific are the details revealed, so monumental are the miscarriages of justice. It is no wonder that blacks carry around the baggage of fear and mistrust. They sure have good reason because the white population has set the precedent for them. The system was unequal and unfair. Black men were murdered for crimes they didn’t commit and white men, when caught and tried for crimes against blacks, were dismissed with a slap on their wrists from all white juries that perpetuated the prejudice, corruption and brutality. While black men were murdered for the “supposed” rape of a white woman, white men were excused for the rape of a black woman. The crimes were not considered equal in the eyes of the interpreters of the law.I was sixteen when I was chased by a group of white youngsters because I was with a young black man. It was in Saratoga Springs, NY. In retrospect, I shouldn’t be so surprised by what I read, yet I was, because I thought what happened to me was an anomaly, not the norm.. Thinking about it now, we were really lucky that the four of us escaped bodily harm. I remember it well though. My black friends told us to separate from them because they wanted to protect us, and I, young and foolish, thought it was exciting and romantic. I never realized that this type of thing was a heinous threat that hung over them everyday. I was completely naïve.Marshall’s name goes down in history right next to some of the most memorable legal cases fought before the Supreme Court. He worked tirelessly to achieve a legal system and educational system that was fair to all, regardless of color, and ultimately was successful, but there is still a tough road to hoe.
  • (5/5)
    Chillingly documents a case of the domestic terrorism that plagued the segregated South. A must read.
  • (5/5)
    The Groveland Boys were four young black men who were falsely accused of raping a young white woman in a rural county in Florida in 1948. They barely escaped being lynched, but their trial was intended to be a more palatable lynching, with a sanctioned death sentence resulting. Thurgood Marshall was in charge of the Legal Defense Fund of the NAACP at the time, working on civil rights cases throughout the country. He took up the case of the Groveland Boys, and fought to save their lives through many judicial and extra-judicial proceedings.The book clearly presents how little value was placed on the lives of blacks in the deep South during this time. They could be disrespected, threatened and intimidated, their property could be destroyed, and their very lives taken with impunity and with no consequences. It was considered a great victory for the LDF to conclude a trial of innocent men with life sentences imposed instead of the death penalty.
  • (5/5)
    I just finished Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America and gave it 5 stars. Here is my review: This book made me sad, angry, proud and happy. I was saddened to read of the hatred these young men experienced for no other reason than that they happened to be born African-American and at such a tumultuous time in the history of this country. But had they not gone through this, we may not be as far along as a people or as a country. I was angered by those who knew the truth but would not speak up. Pride was inevitable, as Mr Marshall, the LDF, and others worked relentlessly to right the wrongs that they could. I realized, while reading this book, that there are some wrongs that only God can and will right. For that, I am happiest. I am also happy that the last living Groveland young man's life was not wasted in prison. I would recommend this publication as mandatory high school reading. These young men were teenagers and many of today's teens have no idea what life was like for that generation. Yet, they experience the same hatred. I think seeing these pictures, hearing their testimonies and observing the obvious racism will change the behavior of some.
  • (5/5)
    A gripping, terrifying account of an important yet overlooked case of racial injustice in the Jim Crow South and a compelling look at the case that forged Thurgood Marshall’s perception of himself as a crusader for civil rights.
  • (4/5)
    The horrors of the Jim Crow laws are presented here. Four innocent black boys are to pay the price when a white woman cries rape. Thurgood Marshall, known as the Civil Rights lawyer., is brought in to defend the boys through the up starting group NAACP. Despite threats and the death of one of his associates by the KKK, Marshall was determined to defend the boys and, hopefully, makes some strides in the Civil Rights movement.
  • (4/5)
    This is an important book (it won the 2013 Pulitzer for Nonfiction), and I'm going to recommend it because of the importance of its subject matter. It tells an eye-opening and thrilling story. However, it does so in a confusing and convoluted way. I found it to be, for the most part, extremely disorganized and poorly written, and I couldn't believe that it had won a Pulitzer. I nearly gave up on it many times during the first 100 or so pages. After that it flowed better, but oh how I wish it was more competently written.In 1949, in Groveland Florida a 17 year old white girl claimed to have been raped by 4 black men, and Sheriff Willis McCall went into action. Four innocent young men were blamed (one of whom was already in police custody for another matter at the time the rape allegedly occurred, but never mind). In short order, three of the young men were arrested and the fourth was killed "resisting arrest." Riots were instigated by the KKK, and much of the black area of town was burned down. The three arrestees were brutally beaten and tortured, and two of them confessed to the rape; one refused to confess.At the time the Groveland events were unfolding, future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall was an attorney for the NAACP deeply involved in the case that became the landmark school desegregation case, Brown v. Board of Education. Nevertheless, he signed on to defend the "Groveland Boys," as they were known. Marshall expected to lose the case at the trial level. The NAACP strategy at the time was to get these types of cases overturned at the appellate level, and that's how this case proceeded. The three surviving Groveland Boys were convicted at the trial level; two received the death penalty but one was given "only" a life sentence. Since at the time there was no guarantee that if the case were retried, the defendant who had initially received the life sentence would not then be sentenced to death, that defendant did not appeal.The convictions of the other two defendants were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. A few years later, when their cases were to be retried on remand, Sheriff McCall was transporting the two defendants, chained together, from the state penitentiary to the courthouse. McCall made it look like they were trying to escape and shot them both in cold blood. One of the defendants died, but the other lived. While the sheriff was investigated for this blatant act of murder, he was never charged or convicted. Thurgood Marshall called the failure to charge Sheriff McCall, "the worst case of injustice and whitewashing I have come across." McCall continued to be reelected as Groveland's sheriff until 1972, when he was indicted and suspended from office for kicking to death a mentally retarded black prisoner in his cell.The now one remaining Groveland Boy was convicted on retrial and again sentenced to death. This time the Supreme Court did not overturn the conviction, and the last part of the book is an exciting page turner as we follow the legal maneuverings to attempt to save the final defendant from execution.Although I've heard of other similar cases that occurred in the first half of the 20th century, I had never heard of the Groveland case. And, although the case went to the Supreme Court more than once, it is rarely mentioned in civil rights histories, law texts, or apparently even in biographies of Thurgood Marshall. At the time it was ongoing, the case itself and the various coverups generated little attention or outrage other than in the black newspapers. Perhaps I'm naïve, but this case shed so much light for me on how evil and corrupt the justice system was (and perhaps still is). It also shed light on how courageous the civil rights workers and lawyers were as they took on these cases, and other types of civil rights issues. (In fact the NAACP rep for the Groveland area died when his house was firebombed on Christmas day before the trial of the Groveland boys. The perpetrators were never found--and there is some suspicion that the sheriff may have had some type of involvement. Langston Hughes wrote a poem about the event: "The Ballad of Harry Moore.")Again, although this book was for the most part not well-written, I'm going to highly recommend it.3 1/2 stars
  • (5/5)
    This masterful and riveting non-fiction book, subtitled “Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America” is about some of the bravest men in the history of this country. It is a useful corrective to anyone who thought (from reading The Help, for instance) that Jim Crow America wasn’t so bad. Or worse, those who thought that what was described in The Help was as bad as it got! Gilbert King, who has written about U.S. Supreme Court history for both The Washington Post and The New York Times, argues that by the mid-1940’s, Thurgood Marshall, the grandson of a mixed-race slave, “was engineering the greatest social transformation in American since the Reconstruction era.” With a rhetorical facility (“benighted towns billeting hostile prosecutors”) that transcends the sobering subject matter, King allows you to forget you are reading non-fiction, but he never allows you to forget you are reading a genuine horror story. Thurgood Marshall and his colleagues in the Legal Defense Fund of the NAACP traveled throughout the South in the 1950’s, trying to fight white supremacy using the weapon of the Constitution. Marshall knew he could not win cases at the local or state level, so his goal became to establish firm grounds for appeals on record. If favorable rulings on equal protection could be obtained in higher courts, these precedents could then be used as additional building blocks for the rights of blacks.The story of Marshall’s battle is told by a focus on one particular case, that of the Groveland Boys, which was, according to King:"…key to Marshall’s perception of himself as a crusader for civil rights, as a lawyer, willing to stand up to racist judges and prosecutors, murderous law enforcement officials, and the Klan in order to save the lives of young men falsely accused of capital crimes – even if it nearly killed him.”And he was nearly killed a number of times.The case of the Groveland Boys made national news at the time, and also had a significant impact upon the NAACP’s goals for future litigation. It took place in Florida, a state that somehow escaped the bad reputation attributed to Mississippi, Georgia, or Louisiana even though it had a higher per capital lynching rate. King notes that "In the postwar decade Florida would…prove to be a state with a boundless capacity for racial inhumanity, even by measure of the rest of the South…”In Groveland, the Klan was populated by lawmen, and blacks had no hope of protection. So it was that when four young black men were arrested for the rape of a young white girl, in spite of the fact that no semen was found in her, or that two of the boys weren’t even in the area that night, a conviction and death penalty for all four boys was a foregone conclusion. Two of the young men were in the area, and they were World War II veterans, the object of particular rancor among white southerners since these veterans no longer were acting subservient enough.The book describes the horrific events that surrounded this case, including the beatings of suspects and murder of three of them by the sheriff, who managed to remain in office until 1972 when he was finally suspended for kicking to death a mentally retarded black prisoner in his cell; the personal risks with their lives taken by all the defense lawyers; and the jaw-dropping injustice in the courtroom. It also enumerates the pressures on Marshall, who was simultaneously working on arguments for Brown v. Board of Education to be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. While desperate stays-of-execution were filed in the Groveland Case, Marshall was forced to respond to the Supreme Court’s order that all five of the segregation cases coalesced into Brown v. Board had to be reargued in terms of the statutory intent of the equal protection clause in the Fourteenth Amendment. It’s an amazing story, and my respect for Marshall increased tremendously as a result of it.Evaluation: This is a book that should be required reading. This horrifying, edge-of-your-seat tale really happened, and not that long ago. Its repercussions helped make the country what it is today. The author, who unearthed FBI files under seal for sixty years, has done an outstanding job in telling this story which manages to be heart-breaking, inspiring, infuriating, and admirable all at once.
  • (5/5)
    Rarely does a carefully crafted and meticulously researched history read as if it were a novel, and that is precisely what Gilbert King has accomplished in his account of the years Thurgood Marshall spent as an attorney on the staff of the NAACP’s legal team. The centerpiece of the narrative is the investigation and prosecution of a rape in Lake County, Florida, in July, 1949. In what appears to have been an attempt to punish a young black man for failing to be properly subservient to a white man, a 17-year-old white woman filed a spurious police report, claiming that four black men had beat her husband, then kidnapped and raped her. By the time a retrial, ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court, was in progress in early 1952, two of the accused had been killed by law officers and one was in prison serving a life sentence. As Thurgood Marshall explained to his client, Charles Greenlee, the fact that he had not been sentenced to death meant the jury believed he was innocent, and that was as close to justice as a black man could expect in Lake County, Florida. On that advice, Greenlee chose to serve his sentence and hope for a future reduction of his sentence. The brilliance of the defense in the retrial of Walter Irvin in 1952 was to no avail; he was again found guilty and sentenced to death.Greenlee was granted parole in 1960, married, had children, and built a successful HVAC maintenance business. Irvin’s sentence was eventually commuted, and he was paroled in 1968, provided he never returned to Lake County. A year later, Irvin sought and won the approval of his parole officer to attend his uncle’s funeral in Lake County. Irvin was found dead in his car “of natural causes.”Wrapped around the central tale and woven throughout the narrative are the stories of the other carefully crafted, history-changing cases that the NAACP’s legal team tried under the aegis of Special Counsel Thurgood Marshall. Rarely expecting to win a case, they depended on courtroom strategy and carefully written briefs that would yield successes on appeal. Their goal was to build a body of case law that would support individuals in future suits who sought to assert their moral rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—and they succeeded. Their hard-fought successes at the U.S. Supreme Court transformed civil rights from words in the Constitution to realistic expectation and, as the subtitle suggests, “the Dawn of a New America.”King uses an interesting device for his source notes, which appear at the end of the book, where quotations in the text are listed by page number. The reading is smoother without the superscript numbers appearing throughout the text, and for those who like to read source notes in the course of their reading, they are as accessible as if they had been handled more traditionally. There are also an epilogue and index. In later editions, such as the recent paperback that I read, there are three additional sections: A Conversation with Gilbert King (a brief and worthwhile interview with the author), The Last Word (the text of letters King received from readers who were moved by the book), and Questions for Discussion (for book clubs). Having breathlessly finished the last word of the text, I was not ready to part with the story, just as if I had been reading a thrilling novel. I wanted to know what happened to the characters, and I needed a conversation to digest what I’d read. These last sections provided that opportunity.
  • (5/5)
    It's a good.book. didn't. Want to stop reading it. May read threw the night
  • (5/5)
    Very Nice .
  • (5/5)
    Hard, heavy, heart-breaking, but so fascinating that it reads as a thriller. Proof that no work of fiction could ever rival the truth.
  • (1/5)

    This is beautiful.
  • (1/5)
    Inte resting...!!