This was an incredibly disturbing and shocking read. We're all no doubt familiar with the tales of brutality and injustice and violence, particularly in the South, during the Civil Rights era in America in the 50s and 60s, but to read in such detail about this one particular case was truly eye-opening.
Four young black men, the youngest just sixteen, were accused of kidnapping and raping a young white woman in Florida. By the end of this tale, three of those men are dead - one gunned down by a posse, one murdered by the sheriff, one dying in suspicious circumstances just months after his release from prison. And throughout the course of this book, it's increasingly doubtful whether any crime even took place, whether the young woman was ever abducted and raped at all. That anyone, no matter how racist, could deliberately lie about a crime and stand back and watch innocent young men stand trial for their lives...
The sheer scale of the corruption and endemic racism in this case is horrifying. From the sheriff and deputies, judge and prosecutor, all had their minds made up before the case ever even came to trial, and the verdict was a foregone conclusion. The efforts of Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP to defend their clients was truly heroic, battling against staggering odds and in the face of incredible hostility and danger.
I could not put this book down, turning page after page with my mouth hanging open in horror and shock. I definitely want to read more about Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP's Legal Defence Fund after reading this book.