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Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders Hardcover – May 23, 2008

18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“[A] remarkable book. . . . We see a collective portrait marked by a combination of fear, good humor, and above all extraordinary courage and commitment in the face of virulent and sometimes violent racism. [An] absolutely inspirational work--one of the most powerful experiences a reader can have.
” (Library Journal)

Breach of Peace literally gives faces to the faceless and anonymous heroines and heroes who changed America in 1961.” (Julian Bond, Chairman, NAACP)

“The interview excerpts bring to life the experience these people shared—not just the rides, the arrests, and the beatings but also, in many cases, the weeks or months they spent in jail afterwards....We learn what they were doing before the rides and what they have done since….[Etheridge’s] solid feel for his subject is evident throughout this marvelous, moving book.” (Hendrik Hertzberg - The New Yorker)

About the Author

Eric Etheridge grew up in Carthage, Mississippi. He is a former editor at Rolling Stone, The New York Observer and Harper's. He lives in New York City.

Diane McWhorter is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama—The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution and a long-time contributor to the New York Times.

Roger Wilkins is a journalist whose editorials about the issues leading up to President Richard Nixon's resignation won him a Pulitzer Prize; he is also a distinguished professor of history at George Mason University.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Atlas; Reissue edition (May 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 097774339X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977743391
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 0.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #663,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Eric Etheridge is the photographer and author of Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders. He has worked as an editor at a number of magazines, including Rolling Stone, 7 Days, the New York Observer and Harper's magazine. He has also worked online, creating and running websites for Microsoft, the New York Times and others. A native of Mississippi, he lives in New York City with his wife and their daughter.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By D. Levy on May 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Breach of Peace is a great book for several reasons. It is beautifully designed and printed, with very high-quality reproductions of Etheridge's exceptional contemporary portraits of 1961's freedom riders and of their mug shots, recovered from the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, which had been formed in 1956 to protect the state from Federal encroachments like the recent Brown v. Board of Education decision.

The featured freedom riders' pages display their portraits and mug shots, their stories then and now, and a quote from the interviews which Etheridge conducted as he traveled through the United States to meet them. Each story is moving but the accumulated effect of reading all of the stories is almost breathtaking. Courageous in their youth, these exemplary Americans have gone in many directions but all seem to have dedicated their lives to freedom, education, and equality.

You see in the mug shots dozens of youthful citizens who proudly traveled to Mississippi, knowing they would be arrested and imprisoned, staring with heads held high at the police cameras. There was no shame and little apparent fear, just a confidence that they were engaged in a mighty cause. Of course none of them could have imagined that these mug shots would have been preserved and found more than forty years later.

The juxtaposition of the mug shots with Etheridge's modern portraits is fascinating. I might find interesting any collection of portraits of people matched with their younger selves. But Etheridge's multitonal black and white pictures are particularly beautiful, and they work incredibly well next to the stark black and white mug shots of 1961.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Joseph J. McDonald on June 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
My review is not in anyway impartial or detached. Forty seven years ago tomorrow (June 2) myself and five fellow Riders were arrested in Jackson. Three members of our group are no longer with us today, with this disclosure in mind I will now review "Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders" by Eric Etheridge.
The book is beautifully printed and the portraits are of outstanding quality. The text is, of course, minimal but to me at least, provacative in the extreme. The interviews Mr. Etheridge was able to conduct and include were the flesh on the bones. Incidently, I spoke with Mr. Ehteridge and was advised that the interviewing connected with his project is continuing and they will eventually show up on the internet.
This book is a perfect complement to Raymond Arsenault's "Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice"(see my review). For primary history enthusiasts, I cannot strongly enough recommend: Mississippi Department Archives and History (MDAH Digital Collection). To get a feel for the real situation in Mississippi of what segregation meant in that state.
Perusing the portraits was like a portal back into time. Bittersweet memories of accomplishment and failure. Yes, we accomplished the immediate objective of integrating interstate travel and in the ensuing years(at the cost of a lot of blood) removed most overt forms of discrimination. But, sadly if one takes the time and energy to peer into her or his surroundings(locally and globally) the idealism of that time is rarely observed.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jorgia Bordofsky on May 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Captures the youthful optimisim of peole who knew they were doing the right thing and were willing to spend time in jail for their belief in the equality of human beings. The police mug shots, although very impersonal, convey the moral presence of these young people. The contemporary interviews and photos give the reader a glimpse of another era. You can also look at this book as an art book......the black and white photos really draw you into the written text. I think this makes a wonderful coffee table book meant to stimulate conversation and would be a great gift for a graduating student during these times when again it seems like our country has lost it's moral compass.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Matthew H. Crocker on January 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Putting the faces on those brave men and women....40 years would be like talking to william lloyd garrison, frederick douglass, and wendell phillips in 1920. god bless the the book and see there faces!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The subject of an engaging exhibition and lavishly appended new book, Eric Etheridge's contemporary photographic portraits of this group of American heroes and heroines of many races and cultural backgrounds not only celebrates their world-changing courage, but traces their subsequent histories. Among the very many who remained active in political and social justice causes are included some famous civil servants like US Congressman Charlie Rangel (D, NY) to teachers, artists, lawyers, and at least one couple who fell in love during their Freedom Ride. - Shana Nys Dambrot on Flavorpill LA

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By Peggy A Payne on August 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased these books for gifts for young people in my family. I knew of the horrible treatment of the
Freedom Riders; my cousin was one of them and is in the book. Not only that, I saw the awful things done
to them on the television. I purchased a copy of the book for myself when it first came out. This exposes
another part of USA shame and everyone should know about the suffering endured which resulted in
laws being passed.
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