- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (February 1, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1403961212
- ISBN-13: 978-1403961211
- Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.5 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #737,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Lynching in the Heartland: Race and Memory in America
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Indiana University professor James H. Madison tells the story behind one of America's most infamous photographs: the image of two black teenagers dangling from a tree after a 1930 lynching in Marion, Indiana. The photo, reproduced on the cover, draws its power not only from the dead boys but also from the "shameless faces" of the white onlookers. The lynching itself involved three black teenagers accused of killing a white man and raping a white woman. Two of the alleged perpetrators were dragged from their jail cells shortly after they supposedly confessed to the crimes; the third, James Cameron, survived only because the crowd came to its senses. He was eventually convicted of voluntary manslaughter (but not murder or rape), served his time, went on to lead a productive life, and was pardoned by the governor in 1993. No member of the lynch mob, however, was ever brought to justice--even though their acts were captured on film and witnessed by thousands. There are holes in the story--whether Mary Ball really was raped "will likely never be known," says Madison--but A Lynching in the Heartland succeeds at providing a detailed look at a horrible incident and its aftermath. --John Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
The jacket photograph is chilling: the bloody bodies of two African-American young men hang from a tree while a crowd of white men and women mills below, dressed as if attending a parade or political rally, gawking and pointing. In this heartfelt and wide-ranging study of this tragedy, Madison explores the events of August 7, 1930, in the small town of Marion, Ind. The two men along with a third, who narrowly escaped were in jail on charges of murdering a white man and raping a white woman when a white mob stormed the jail and hung the two men from a tree outside the nearby courthouse. But Madison (a historian at Indiana University) moves beyond these stomach-churning facts, scrutinizing racial dynamics in Marion in the decades both before and after the lynching. Race was so etched into the minds of white residents that it even followed heroes into death: on a local memorial for World War I soldiers, the names of two of the dead are followed by "(col.)" for "colored." Madison probes how the lynching became a subtext in later years, including in the integration of the town swimming pool in 1954. Only recently, Madison says, has Marion come to terms with its past: the survivor of the lynching was awarded the keys to the city in 1993, and an African-American was finally elected sheriff in 1998. As passionate as it is disturbing, Madison's book is a dire reminder of the horrors the American heartland held for the dispossessed.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
This book is not about "lynching". It is about injustice and mob-mentalities, as well as the history of race-relations in the U.S. - from the perspective of a small midwestern town. A town that many people would consider to be a typical place. The history written is non-fiction, although I wish in many ways it were fiction. I find it difficult to grasp that humans act the ways they do, and the author did a fabulous job of remaining objective and explaining the facts in a sleuth-like manner.
This work reads like a gripping movie-script, a drama and detective story, where you find heroes abound by their courage to speak up against the actions of the mob who lynched 2 teen-agers on a summer night. But unfortunately this work is not fiction, it is true - from the accounts of what happened in the town the night the boys were suspected of killing a white teen and raping his girlfriend on lovers-lane, to the mob-mentality that eventually took the lives of these two boys. I live near the town where it happened, and I wish it weren't true.
The author did a superb job getting this early 20th century American history to read like something from one's imagination - he is truly gifted as a historical writer - as the words jump off the page as you read, gripping you, entangling you in the tragedy, and making emotions (ones that you probably don't like to express) - flood through you.
Madison repeatedly makes the point that if we don't study our history and vividly recall our past then we are doomed to persist in unjust racial crimes. This is a tough book to swallow, but a very important one for all of us to read. Only by exposing ourselves to the ugly events of our history can we hope to learn and prevent such madness from recurring. An eloquent, vital, and impressive contribution.