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And the Dead Shall Rise: The Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank Paperback – October 12, 2004
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In 1913, 13-year-old Mary Phagan was found brutally murdered in the basement of the Atlanta pencil factory where she worked. The factory manager, a college-educated Jew named Leo Frank, was arrested, tried, and convicted in a trial that seized national headlines. When the governor commuted his death sentence, Frank was kidnapped and lynched by a group of prominent local citizens.
Steve Oney’s acclaimed account re-creates the entire story for the first time, from the police investigations to the gripping trial to the brutal lynching and its aftermath. Oney vividly renders Atlanta, a city enjoying newfound prosperity a half-century after the Civil War, but still rife with barely hidden prejudices and resentments. He introduces a Dickensian pageant of characters, including zealous policemen, intrepid reporters, Frank’s martyred wife, and a fiery populist who manipulated local anger at Northern newspapers that pushed for Frank’s exoneration. Combining investigative journalism and sweeping social history, this is the definitive account of one of American history’s most repellent and most fascinating moments.
The People v. Leo Frank is now a motion picture based on the book And the Dead Shall Rise: The Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank, starring Will Janowitz and Seth Gilliam. Enjoy these images from the film, and click the thumbnails to see larger images.
From Publishers Weekly
The 1913 lynching of Leo Frank is one of the most sensational and resonant incidents in U.S. criminal and legal history, and a touchstone of American anti-Semitism. Frank, a Northern Jew, was the manager of an Atlanta, Ga., pencil factory where 13-year-old Mary Phagan worked and was brutally murdered. After he was charged with the crime and arrested, Frank's religion and ethnicity were an unarticulated but central theme of the dramatic, two-year-long trial that garnered worldwide attention. Frank was convicted of Phagan's murder and sentenced to death, but the governor commuted the sentence to life imprisonment. Georgians' anti-Semitism then reached a fever pitch, and Frank was dragged from his prison cell by a lynch mob and hanged near Phagan's hometown. Since then the Leo Frank case has become an emblem of American intolerance, inspiring a 1937 Hollywood movie, They Won't Forget, and a 1998 Broadway musical, Parade. Surprisingly, though, the Frank case has generated very few works of political or cultural analysis, an exception being Leonard Dinnerstein's The Leo Frank Case, originally published in 1968 and reissued in a slightly revised edition in 1986. Oney's is the best book on the subject to date. Oney, who spent years as a reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has written not only the definitive account of the murder, trial and lynching but also a stirring, eminently readable, and thrilling narrative. Oney has read extensively through court transcripts, contemporary newspaper articles, judicial and legal documents, and personal papers, uncovering new and unsettling material, most notably, that the men who planned Frank's lynching-they referred to themselves as the Knights of Mary Phagan-were, or became, very important state politicians. The historical canvas here is broad, and Frank's story becomes a tapestry of American ethnicity, fear, hate and power. Oney carefully maps the history of the Jewish community in the South; the role that New York newspapers played in publicizing the trial and attacking anti-Semitism; and the complex role that racism and the interactions between black and white Georgians played in Frank's conviction. This complex turmoil comes together when, out of the blue, Oney details a suspenseful, beautifully detailed plot twist involving William Smith, the lawyer for the only other suspect, a black man named Jim Conley. Oney has a reporter's eye for detail and a novelist's sense of storytelling. While the narrative-fashioned as a crime story-is vividly detailed and deeply compelling, we never lose a sense of Oney's exacting accuracy and serious historical intent. This is a vital addition to the literature of race, Jewish studies and Southern history.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Boy, did it.
This book is a detailed reconstruction of the murder investigation, trial, and lynching, but it also provides a context for all that made the events possible. Oney's years of research are obvious in the 600+ pages. While it is clear that Oney believes that Frank wasn't a killer, he doesn't hesitate to present us with the evidence that convinced so many that he was guilty. The abundance of detail is the book's greatest strength, but it's also the factor that slows down the momentum in the last half. While initially the details and thumbnail sketches of virtually every participant add life to the book, Oney has difficultly knowing when to stop. The highlight of the book is the two lengthy chapters detailing Frank's trial - they're so lively you'll almost feel as if you're there. But after Frank is convicted, Oney struggles to keep the momentum going. It's a shame, because the post-trial events are dramatic and important - in fact, they're likely the reason the reader is even reading the book.
Even with those issues, this book is well worth reading. It's hard to imagine a better treatment of the tragic events.
Steve Oney has written the definitive most thoroughly researched work regarding this case. It is detailed, and for anyone interested in the case, it is a terrific book. It not only gives a complete telling of the story, it delves into the mindset and repercussions of all of the groups involved. The Jewish community in Atlanta, the town of Marietta, the reputation of Georgia, the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan are all profoundly affected by this case. Mary Phagan's murder and Leo Frank's lynching is one of the most notorious episodes in American History. It's one of the most famous murder cases of the Twentieth century to capture the public's attention. Only the Lindbergh kidnapping trial of Bruno Hauptmann and the murder trial of O.J. Simpson rival this case. The common thread of all three trials is that in each one the jury was influenced as much by bias as by evidence. In all three the juries may have rendered a wrong verdict.
This is a compelling story and a must read. Mr. Oney's tireless research has created a book that is interesting, thought provoking, and tragic. No one who reads this book can escape the facts. Leo Frank's conviction was a miscarriage of justice. Blind hatred and a need for retribution caused an entire state to condone an officially sanctioned lynching of an innocent man. Jim Conley got away with murder. My grandmother was mistaken.