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The Martinsville Seven: Race, Rape, and Capital Punishment (Constitutionalism and Democracy) Hardcover – May 29, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is a careful exposition of a notorious Virginia case that led to the 1951 electrocution of seven young black men convicted of raping a white woman. Rise, who teaches sociology and criminal justice at the University of Delaware, first sketches the Jan. 8, 1949, attack of Ruby Floyd in a black neighborhood in the western Virginia town of Martinsville. The black community, he notes, was shocked not by the convictions but by the death sentences. The NAACP and a discomfiting rival, the left-wing Civil Rights Congress, campaigned against the convictions. The author charges that the judicial system, which rejected several appeals, ignored the climate of "hostility and prejudice" against the defendants, valuing social order over due process. Most important, the appeals marked the NAACP's first attempt to use equal-protection arguments (previously cited in desegregation cases) to challenge racially disparate sentences. Such arguments persist today. Photos.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

The story of the Martinsville Seven is a fascinating and important one, and Rise tells it well.... He has written a book that historians as well as lawyers can comprehend and that both ought to read.

(Journal of American History)

Rise has produced a model study which reminds us that formalism can serve to defend unfairness. His study also underscores the relationship between law and society.

(American Journal of Legal History)

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Product Details

  • Series: Constitutionalism and Democracy
  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press (May 29, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813915678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813915678
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,021,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Mahnken on November 25, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I ordered this book to try to understand this controversy and I am anti death penalty also. First, unless you are a civil rights law professor, this book was not an interesting read.

I gathered these men were completely guilty, hard to sympathize with them from how this book is written.

Might have helped if the accuser families, victim's family, towns people or politicians were interviewed for this book. There is much mystery around the victim Mrs. Floyd. I can understand not wanting to be the poster girl for rape especially in the 1950's but a more sympathetic look at her life would have enriched the book from a literary standpoint.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tevin Broone on January 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I think Rise did a great job but me a Martinsville resident think that someone from Martinsville should have made a book about it and it seems like everyone wants to keep it a secret but I want to know.
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1 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Pamela Hairston on July 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
The true story of the Martinsville Seven will soon be told and hopefully, it will become a Hollywood movie. The real victims were the Seven. Peace.
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2 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ebony Millner on May 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Over this book and the actual story itself there are many skeletons in the closets of Martinsville families over the tragic end of seven young lives. Seems that the victim wasn't really so innocent after all, but the lives of those men cannot be replaced, even now when we know the truth. Vengeance is mine saith the Lord, and yes, even those who falsely point fingers shall reap the rewards of doom.
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