"The North Carolina Historical Review"
"An engaging writer, Hill has written a graceful book that fills an important gap in civil rights scholarship."
"Florida Historical Quarterly"
"Hill's ground-breaking, historical narrative adds not only to Southern historiography, but to that of the United States as well."
"This well-argued revisionist text should spur useful debate and encourage others to recast traditional civil rights-era narratives."
"The Journal of American History"
"Hill has written a masterful account of a vital, understudied organization. This will undoubtedly be "the" book on the Deacons for a long time."
"The Journal of Southern History"
"An engrossing, well-written study."
-- "Journal of American Studies"
Grapples with a topic of great importance. . . . Challenges historians to continue to rethink black freedom movements in relationship to gender and manhood; the divergent strategies of civil rights organizations; the role of indigenous working-class blacks; the importance of our collective memory or amnesia as well as how we choose to remember those civil rights movements themselves.--Journal of Social History
Hill has written a bold and provocative book challenging the prevailing civil rights narrative. . . . This reviewer recommends this book highly and welcomes the debate it will generate.--Historian
This is a significant book. Hill tells a compelling story of an important organization at a critical juncture of the Freedom movement. . . . Hill raises important questions for his study and others that will follow. This is not a timid book, and Hill deserves considerable credit for venturing into territory where the historiography is still shifting and unsettled. He is not afraid to take on big questions, nor important analyses. His emphasis on the class implications and the timeliness of the self-defense strategy at this stage of the movement seem especially vital.--The North Carolina Historical Review
[A] ground-breaking, historical narrative. . . . [Hill's] scholarly reconstruction adds not only to Southern historiography, but to that of the United States as well.--Louisiana History
Lance Hill's book is the first full account of the [Deacons for Defense] and fills a major lacuna in the history of the era and the movement. It is also a welcome corrective to the school of civil rights historians who try to fix this multipronged, protean movement into the static polarities of nonviolence and violence, liberal integration and radical separatism. . . . Hill has done a service by rescuing the Deacons from oblivion.--The Nation
A compellingly detailed and gripping historical narrative. . . . Hill combines hands-on research . . . with an intimate and engaging narrative style. . . . Without his book, the history of the civil rights movement is indeed incomplete.--New Orleans Tribune
[Hill's] thorough and original history of the Deacons for Defense and Justice . . . is more than an impressive account of a now-obscure group that left no written records. The Deacons for Defense is also a forceful . . . challenge to the shelfful of civil rights histories that tell a story in which nonviolence was indeed an essential and defining quality of the Southern movement's success. . . . An important corrective to popular simplifications. . . . Highly valuable.--David J. Garrow, Chicago Tribune
Hill . . . brings to life this forgotten story--which traditionally has been overshadowed by the non-violence movement, and often suppressed by African-Americans. . . . A fascinating and dramatic book. . . . Hill makes a persuasive case that many of the most important victories in the civil rights movement came as a result of the Deacons and the measures they took and advocated. . . . A must-read for historians and anyone interested in the civil rights movement.--New Orleans Times-Picayune
This refreshing and illuminating account documents how militant black men, most of them working class and many of them military veterans, used armed self-defense to supplement nonviolent direct action. Lance Hill treats their struggle with the analysis and respect it deserves and opens a new window into freedom movement history.--Michael Honey, University of Washington
Hill's history of the Deacons for Defense and Justice is a timely addition to the literature on the African American freedom struggle in the South. Hill joins the ranks of those historians . . . who have begun to uncover the ways that the black community consistently espoused and frequently exercised the right to defend self, family, and property, even in the midst of a civil rights campaign that was publicly committed to nonviolent direct action tactics. . . . An engaging writer with a nice sense of drama and a good ear for the telling anecdote, [Hill's] depiction of the Movement in Bogalusa is particularly compelling. . . . Hill has written a graceful book that fills an important gap in civil rights scholarship.--Florida Historical Quarterly
The book both demands and rewards contemplative consideration of its author's views on the differences between cultural and political resistance, on the degree to which nonviolence and black power shared core values and goals, and on the historical continuity of an African American radical tradition. This well-argued revisionist text should spur useful debate and encourage others to recast traditional civil rights-era narratives.--The Journal of American History
An engrossing, well-written study.--Journal of American Studies
This is a fascinating account of an unrecognized chapter in civil rights history, but at its heart is more than just the story of how some communities resorted to violence. It also shows the imperative of working-class political mobilization being organized by working class people themselves. . . . The Deacons for Defense is a welcome challenge to the nonviolent mythology and orthodoxy that serve as the basis of civil rights history's mater narrative. Hill's work blows the lid off that cover story, persuasively arguing that the 'will to coerce change rather than win consent from one's enemies' is that era's real legacy.--Brooklyn Rail
Hill has written a masterful account of a vital, understudied organization. This will undoubtedly be the book on the Deacons for a long time, and it addresses issues relevant not simply to movement scholarship but also to southern history, African American history, and American history more generally. Hill reminds us that King's fateful choice to preach nonviolence was just that--a choice that had consequences for both the man and the movement and that continues to shape American race relations.--Journal of Southern History