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Devil in the Grove is the winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.
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 an explosive and deadly 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. To maintain order and profits, they turned to Willis V. McCall, a violent sheriff who ruled Lake County with murderous resolve. When a white seventeen-year-old Groveland girl cried rape, McCall was fast on the trail of four young blacks who dared to envision a future for themselves beyond the citrus groves. By day’s end, the Ku Klux Klan had rolled into town, burning the homes of blacks to the ground and chasing hundreds into the swamps, hell-bent on lynching the young men who came to be known as “the Groveland Boys.”
And so began the chain of events that would bring Thurgood Marshall, the man known as “Mr. Civil Rights,” into the deadly fray. Associates thought it was suicidal for him to wade into the “Florida Terror” at a time when he was irreplaceable to the burgeoning civil rights movement, but the lawyer would not shrink from the fight—not after the Klan had murdered one of Marshall’s NAACP associates involved with the case and Marshall had endured continual threats that he would be next.
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, King shines new light on this remarkable civil rights crusader, setting his rich and driving narrative against the heroic backdrop of a case that U.S. Supreme Court justice Robert Jackson decried as “one of the best examples of one of the worst menaces to American justice.”
The author is a master story teller and the book reads like a superbly written novel.
It is a very human story of a terrible time in our nation's history and many people who sacrificed to make things better.
The Devil in the Grove is the true story of Thurgood Marshall and an amazing case he handled in Florida in the 1950's.
Absolutely riveting history of life in the deep south and one of America's true heroes. I knew Thurgood Marshall was smart, but did not understand how brave he and his colleagues... Read morePublished 6 days ago by John
Well written book but very depressing story. I live in Lake county. Happy to report things have changed. - Ralph BaileyPublished 8 days ago by joan bailey
This book should be required reading for all. It is masterfully written like a mystery novel.
King writes about an evil time and many evil people. Read more
This was a bit of history of which I was unaware and it is presented beautifully (or tragically) in a masterful format that captures the moods and emotions of the then not... Read morePublished 11 days ago by Stan Rosenberg
I enjoyed reading the history. Racism is a true cancer in our society. I did not enjoy the authors writing. He seemed to jump all over the place. Read morePublished 14 days ago by pal
This was a story that is hard to read, as I'm sure most from the Civil Rights Era are, but it is a must read. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Mary N. Healy
Absolutely wonderful. This book is incredibly well written and tells the story in amazing detail. I highly recommend this book.Published 18 days ago by Dana
Fascinating and riveting . I was only 4 years old when the story takes place and have no memory of news reports on the subject, although I do remember Mr Marshall's name layer... Read morePublished 19 days ago by K. Cav