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Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America Hardcover – March 6, 2012
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“A powerful and well-told drama of Southern injustice.” (Chicago Tribune)
"Suspenseful and historically meticulous." (Christian Science Monitor)
"Deliver(s) the shock of a crime thriller." (Associated Press)
"A taut, intensely readable narrative." (Boston Globe)
“Gilbert King's Devil in the Grove recreates an important yet overlooked moment in American history with a chilling, atmospheric narrative that reads more like a Southern Gothic novel than a work of history.” (Salon)
“(An) excellent telling of one of the most difficult cases Thurgood Marshall ever argued...An important, and hopefully never forgotten, chapter of American history.” (The Seattle Times)
“King traces the pernicious tentacles of bigotry and expertly depicts the role of the press, the cast of characters and the entire contextual story of civil-rights law and the NAACP. Deeply researched and superbly composed.” (Kirkus, Starred Review)
"Very few books combine the depth of research and narrative power about a subject of such pivotal significance.” (Ira Katznelson, author of When Affirmative Action Was White)
"In the terrifying story of the Groveland boys Gilbert King recreates an extraordinary moment in America's long, hard struggle for racial justice. Devil in the Grove is a harrowing, haunting, utterly mesmerizing book." (Kevin Boyle, author of Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age)
"The tragic Groveland saga -- with its Faulknerian echoes of racial injustice spinning around an accusation of rape -- comes astonishingly alive in Gilbert King's narrative. It is both heartbreaking and unforgettable." (Wil Haygood, author of King of the Cats: The Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell Jr.)
From the Back Cover
Devil in the Grove is the winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.
Arguably the most important American lawyer of the twentieth century, Thurgood Marshall was on the verge of bringing the landmark suit Brown v. Board of Education before the U.S. Supreme Court when he became embroiled in an explosive and deadly case that threatened to change the course of the civil rights movement and cost him his life.
In 1949, Florida’s orange industry was booming, and citrus barons got rich on the backs of cheap Jim Crow labor. To maintain order and profits, they turned to Willis V. McCall, a violent sheriff who ruled Lake County with murderous resolve. When a white seventeen-year-old Groveland girl cried rape, McCall was fast on the trail of four young blacks who dared to envision a future for themselves beyond the citrus groves. By day’s end, the Ku Klux Klan had rolled into town, burning the homes of blacks to the ground and chasing hundreds into the swamps, hell-bent on lynching the young men who came to be known as “the Groveland Boys.”
And so began the chain of events that would bring Thurgood Marshall, the man known as “Mr. Civil Rights,” into the deadly fray. Associates thought it was suicidal for him to wade into the “Florida Terror” at a time when he was irreplaceable to the burgeoning civil rights movement, but the lawyer would not shrink from the fight—not after the Klan had murdered one of Marshall’s NAACP associates involved with the case and Marshall had endured continual threats that he would be next.
Drawing on a wealth of never-before-published material, including the FBI’s unredacted Groveland case files, as well as unprecedented access to the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund files, King shines new light on this remarkable civil rights crusader, setting his rich and driving narrative against the heroic backdrop of a case that U.S. Supreme Court justice Robert Jackson decried as “one of the best examples of one of the worst menaces to American justice.”
Top Customer Reviews
In a surprisingly slim, albeit dense, 360 pages (of text, plus notes, etc.), King manages to paint a rich, detailed, sickening and enraging picture of Southern "justice" in the Sunshine State. The unsupported word of a white woman (girl, really, whom few really believe) and that of her drunken on-again, off-again husband launch a series of events that leave two young black men dead - one hunted like a dog, the other shot in cold blood - along with two more wrongfully jailed, one on death row. Along the way we witness the racial intimidation and violence of the KKK, the death by firebombing of civil rights leader Harry T. Moore, and the slow turning of the wheels of justice in the nation's highest court. Also along the way we meet the prosecutor, Jesse Hunter, who comes to believe in the innocence of the "Groveland Boys", yet who prosecutes them anyway; the born and bred Southern journalist Mabel Norris Reese whose slow change of heart gets her labeled a "pinko"; and the Southern sheriff in charge of it all, Willis McCall.Read more ›
On 2/16/16, the Groveland City Council issued a proclamation "Encouraging the Exoneration of the Men Known as the Groveland Four" and the mayor apologized to the families. It was amazing!! 67 years in the making.
Sanford is a half-hour drive from Groveland, where the story told by this superb book took place. And the events in both cases are eerily similar. Racism is by no means dead, the election of Barack Obama notwithstanding.
That said, I will simply add that I could not put this book down. I was enthralled. It is a skillfully written, heart-rending, yet inspiring narrative about the struggle led by Thurgood Marshall and others, who risked their lives to create a "new America".
The one negative feeling I was left with is the realization that courageous and self-sacrificing leadership of this kind in our times in America is sadly lacking. IMHO, this is particularly true among those who need it the most, such as the black community. To be more specific, those at the top today--and I include the President--hardly bear comparison to the likes of Thurgood Marshall. If you disagree with that assessment, read this book to understand the real meaning of what is involved in creating "change we can believe in".
Actually, read it anyway, no matter what your point of view. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book, more people should read about the history of this country.Published 12 days ago by Carol Cowan
I hated this story but I admire its heroes. I am ashamed to admit that I know very little about the fight for civil rights in this country. Read morePublished 13 days ago by jkracker
Do not start this book unless you have a couple free days on your hands. It is difficult to put down once you start reading. Read morePublished 14 days ago by Jim Milstead
I can't put it down.I am learning so much about the early days of the NAACP. Those men and women were courageous. Read morePublished 15 days ago by L. Kafele
Fifoerfjaasdvlivmk sarmasdvlisdavjvds<ksvdaljadsvlk.vds. efesfjfk w e jf jf mfkdffjdflisdañfoiafreklñv. Kjldsfaasdfñjo. Jsvadllafesjlaf. Sfeljkasvdlj. Read morePublished 18 days ago by KATIA MARINA TORRES
Of course, what this dangerous comedian thinks is moral James Madison and the Virginia statesman and Rights-man George Mason would have thought dangerous nonsense, particularly... Read morePublished 19 days ago by Leila Allen
Great book. Well researched story of incredible injustice and the efforts of the NAACP and Thurgood Marshall to set things right. Read morePublished 28 days ago by smag13