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Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America Hardcover – February 1, 2000

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Hardcover, February 1, 2000
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Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America + 100 Years of Lynchings + Lynching Photographs (Defining Moments in American Photography)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 209 pages
  • Publisher: Twin Palms Publishers; Tenth edition (February 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0944092691
  • ISBN-13: 978-0944092699
  • Product Dimensions: 10.4 x 7.8 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #249,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


These images make the past present. They refute the notion that photographs of charged historical subjects lose their power, softening and becoming increasingly aesthetic with time. These images are not going softly into any artistic realm. Instead they send shock waves through the brain, implicating ever larger chunks of American society and in many ways reaching up to the present. They give one a deeper and far sadder understanding of what it has meant to be white and to be black in America. And what it still means. --New York Times, January 13,2000

Customer Reviews

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Wanted to read the book before looking at the pics.
Lorne A. Sturdivant
Yes, we've come a long way, but this book should also remind us of how close we still are. "Memories" was the theme of Kodak ads of a decade ago.
Richard S. Sullivan
Without Sanctuary is one of my buzz-saws, and I cherish it.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

338 of 355 people found the following review helpful By David Sheriff on March 16, 2000
Thanks for the birthday present I suggested, the book "Without Sanctuary," published last month. It arrived yesterday and I sat down and read it from cover to cover. The book is horrifying, fascinating and chastening. You might think it a strange or grotesque request from me. Its not, and I feel compelled to write a little "book report" to show how much I appreciate it.
If you did not know, the book contains photographs and several essays which document the practice of lynching in America, which reached its peak from 1890 through 1930. The victims, three-quarters of them black, were people you might be afraid of just because of the way they looked. We can all identify with that fear. If we had photographs from the Inquisition or a thousand other atrocities they would look much the same. You can always spot the victims in the photographs, but you cannot tell the perpetrators from the bystanders. This particular behavior, lynching, did not take place far away or long ago; that it is so contemporaneous makes it so excruciating. Looking at these pictures, which were taken during the years my grandparents and great-grandparents were in their prime, makes it difficult to view the events as extraordinary. This is America, these are people I could have met in church when I was young. These are people my parents and grandparents must have KNOWN, some of them anyway. I don't think my grandparents would have participated in such events, but I don't really know and they certainly would not have mentioned it to me. The bulk of the terror took place in the South, but the photographs show mob killings everywhere, Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio, Texas, Indiana, California, everywhere.
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222 of 234 people found the following review helpful By M KIRK-DUGGAN on February 1, 2000
"Without Sanctuary brings to life one of the darkest and sickest periods in American history. . . . The photographs in this book make real the hideous crimes that were committed against humanity. . . .such atrocities happened in America not so long ago. These photographs bear witness to the hangings, burnings, castrations, and torture of an American holocaust." From the Foreward by Congressman and 1960's Civil Rights Leader, John Lewis. These lynchings are portrayed on picture postcards that were sent to friends and relatives of the lynch mobs. "At a number of country schools the day's routine was delayed until boy and girl pupils could get back from [viewing] the lynched man. . . .The degree to which whites came to accept lynching as justifiable homicide was best revealed in how they learned to differentiate between 'good' and 'bad' lynchings. . . .'The best people of the county, as good as there are anywhere, simply met there and hanged Curl without a sign of rowdyism. There was no drinking, no shooting, no yellings, and not even loud talking.' " The victims were Black and White, Male and Female, Young and Old. Some were burned after hanging, others were burned before hanging. California and Duluth, as well as Mississippi, Alabama and North Carolina lynchings are all represented. Even the Jew, Leo Frank, is photographed. Only 4000 copies of this first edition have been printed. "We must prevent anything like this from ever happening again."
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95 of 99 people found the following review helpful By GHT on June 10, 2000
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It did. I live in Atlanta, just a few miles from some of the trees in this book, just a few miles from Stone Mountain were they lit crosses up until the 1960s. Evil walked the land HERE - not in far off Europe, HERE, under the Stars and Stripes.
Lynching became America's national pastime after the Civil War, at least in the South. From the 1880s to the 1930s the US averaged over 100 lynchings a year, mostly in the South, over 75% of the victims were black.
This book brings a powerful light to a dark dirty corner of the American experience and psyche. This book is savage, gut-wrenching, and profoundly and deeply disturbing. The photos bear witness to monstrous crimes against humanity. The charred and mutilated bodies of the dead are shocking, and the depraved lust-filled feral faces of the lynch mobs are truly disgusting.
The oppression of slavery gave way to the viciousness and animalism of Jim Crow, and for 100 years the "vicious racists" (as Dr. King called them) ruled supreme in the southern USA, as evil in their stupidity and cowardly fear as the Nazis of Germany were in their arrogance and megalomania.
There are Holocaust deniers. Here in the US we have slavery and Jim Crow deniers, and racism deniers. This book and these awful pictures certainly do not support the happy mythology of the Lost Cause or the "New South"; nor the myth of color-blind justice in the USA. The evil on these pages is the evil one imagines in a pack of wild rabid dogs - savage, arbitrary, unspeakably cruel.
This book is a powerful dose of anti-denial. Most people know what slavery was really about, and have an idea about lynching. But just seeing the "strange fruit of southern trees" is like Eve eating the apple in Eden.
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133 of 145 people found the following review helpful By Debra A Brown on June 1, 2000
I first saw this book on a friend's coffee table, noticing the narrow black and white image, and taking note of the title, I opened the book. My first words were "Oh, my God", the next sentence was "Jesus Christ this book is horrible!" I believe that an image can speak volumes, Without Sanctuary virtually screamed at me. I have an undergraduate degree in African American history and a master's degree in American history, I am extremely familiar with the subject matter portrayed in these pages, but to see that horrifying collection of gruesome images, in a postcard format was almost more than I could handle. In spite of the jarring effect the pics have on the viewer, I feel it is an excellent reference book and sheds valuable insight on the attitudes that formed the historical relationship between blacks and whites in America. I would highly recommend it to all people, especially white people, who often shy away from the more grusome parts of their past.
Once you see the pages, issues like racial profiling, proposition 209, Jasper, Texas, etc., and the continued discrimination of non-white people begins to make more sense.
The title of this book is appropriate too for it speaks to the fact that Black people were literally without sanctuary in the face of a lynch mob.
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