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Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America [Hardcover]

Gilbert King
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 434 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (6 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061792284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061792281
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 16.2 x 3.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 571,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

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."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly horrifying... 15 Jun 2013
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hang on ... 9 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Devil in the Grove is a truly great read. Not only is Gilbert King a formidable storyteller but I got the distinct impression - though I am admittedly no expert on this subject- that the research is sound. King gives the reader all the context and colour to place themself into that warped world of poor white trash, racist sheriffs, outraged southern womanhood, and blacks who had very good reasons to be afraid. Marshall and his NAACP team - the obvious heros of the piece- come to life as real, flesh-and-blood characters too. The story itself is better than any fiction could be. Like one of those theme park rides, it jolts you back and forth, twists and turns and slams your heart into your mouth. You can hold on, but you can't stop until the end. If you know nothing of the Groveland Boys case, then avoid doing any advance reading and just let the book take you there.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A harrowing yet brilliant account 15 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book tracks the a landmark case and period of time in America whilst following the influential figure of Thurgood Marshall. It is interesting, fast paced and yet indepth.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a heart stopping reminder of the recent past 4 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is an outstanding lesson on how an author and historian can have the ability to bring our recent, troubled past to life brilliantly and truthfully.
The story of 'The Groveland Boys' is shocking in the extreme, and Gilbert King tells it in a way that allows us to draw our own conclusions as to the magnitude of the crimes that were committed by government, officials and individuals in equal measure. In short, crimes committed by nearly everyone involved ,other than those poor boys themselves.
This book is a clear reminder for us all of the dangers of what evils can still lurk within us all.

No one can read this and not be moved.
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By G.A
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was drawn to the subject material as something that I felt I should know more about. By the end of the book, I felt that I wanted to read more about this fascinating era in American history. It is more of a document than a story, but the events are so compelling that you can't put it down. By the end , I realised that the initial story was a small part of a much bigger more important story and I really liked the way that the material drew you in and left you with a feeling that you had learned something that should not be forgotten.
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