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

4.8 out of 5 stars 124 customer reviews

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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

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: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
"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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover
Photography as a technological advance changed the way mankind looked at the world and himself. Photography provided concrete proof of instances long dissipated and gone under. The power of photography has not waned and the collection of photos and text entitled 'Without Sanctuary:Lynching Photography in America'(ltd.ed. of 6000) stands as cold proof. The cover of this volume is spare and stark, an offset excerpt of one man's demise. It is as though we have cracked open a previously untested door and, adjusting for the new light, find our eyes bringing to focus what we now know must be hell. Sometimes it is surprisingly hard to look away. When I was in the fifth grade the television mini-series 'Roots' gathered the nation on a Sunday evening for its first episode. In that episode the character of Kunta Kinte is bull-whipped for refusing to accept his slave name, 'Toby.' The savagery and degradation visited upon Lavar Burton's screen persona shook me to my core. I quietly went upstairs to the bathroom and sobbed. Perhaps a person can be so shaken and taken only once, for the unsettling chill that 'Without Sanctuary' produces in me has dampened my eyes not at all. The inhumanity and arbitrary bloodshed captured therein brings a strange calm, an understanding. To be mesmerized by these photos of mob violence is to in some small but undeniably important way put hands on the beast, to learn its contours and edges. A good many of the photos are taken from postcards which were printed as keepsakes. It is clear from such a scenario that the hell black deeds captured in these photos were meant for mass consumption and I am relieved to know that, with the advent of this collection, they are that much less likely to be forgotten.Read more ›
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