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Scottsboro: A Novel Paperback – 21 Apr 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (21 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330456148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330456142
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 188,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'...compelling fictional account of one of history's greatest miscarriages of justice, a case that kick-started America's civil rights movement' -- Waterstone's Books Quarterly

'A fine novel...meticulously researched...' -- Daily Telegraph

'An astute history...clear-sighted...Feldman's book should be read.' -- The Independent

'Moving, disturbing and enormously powerful, this brilliant book offers no cosy resolutions or perfect happy endings.' -- The Gloss

'Multidimensional and real, neither wholly good nor wholly bad, Ruby is a marvellous fictional creation...' -- Historical Novels Review

'Scottsboro is a pleasure to read, even if the history makes one wince.'
-- Daily Telegraph

'an intelligent and often enjoyable writer'
-- Sunday Times

`A powerful novel...Scottsboro moves at a leisurely pace but never fails to hold the attention.'
-- 3Sixty

Book Description

Alabama, 1931. A posse stops a freight train and arrests nine black youths. Their crime: fighting with white boys. Then two white girls emerge from another freight car, and fast as anyone can say Jim Crow, the cry of rape goes up. One of the girls sticks to her story. The other changes her tune, again and again. A young journalist, whose only connection to the incident is her overheated social conscience, fights to save the nine youths from the electric chair, redeem the girl who repents her lie, and make amends for her own past. Intertwining historical actors and fictional characters, stirring racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism into an explosive brew, Scottsboro is a novel of a shocking injustice that convulsed the nation and reverberated around the world, destroyed lives, forged careers, and brought out the worst and the best in the men and women who fought for the cause. ‘Feldman suggests that though the past will always be there, it’s not fixed like the timeline history taught at school, nor impermeable to the present . . . This is a brave novel in the strongest sense of the word, carefully treading mined terrain to thought-provoking and memorable effect’ Observer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Simon Savidge Reads TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 29 May 2009
Format: Paperback
Scottsboro is a novel based on the true story of a trail in the town of the same name in Alabama in 1931. A trial which "the principles that, in the United States, criminal defendants are entitled to effective assistance of counsel and that people may not be de facto excluded from juries because of their race." Two white girls had accused nine young black men of raping them on a freight train back in times when if you were black sometimes you didn't even need a trial you could just be hung by the locals and it was overlooked by the law and judicial system. However these cases made it to the courts even though "the juries were entirely white, their attorneys had little experience in criminal law, and the judge gave them no time at all to prepare their cases". I am quite ashamed to admit that I had never heard of what is such an incredibly important case in history.

The fictional story is told through two voices. The first of which is Ruby Bates, one of the girls who accused the boys of rape and then proceeded to change her mind several times. Her story tells of the desperate poverty and life that she led as a penniless prostitute and how the infamy of the case changed her fortunes and her life and yet she knew what she was doing was wrong. Through her eyes we get the tale of a good girl gone bad due to circumstance and how when things get much to big for her she tries to do right but can she change a media whirlwind completely beyond her control. The second voice is that of one of the media, journalist Alice Whittier. However unlike the other journalists who are interested in sensationalizing the whole case, Alice is looking at it from the perspective of `what if these young men are innocent' this doesn't by any means make her a `heroine of the piece' though.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Judith Cummings on 2 Jun 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Quite simply one of the best things I have read in years. It chronicles one of the most shameful episodes in the recent history of the USA. Scorsboro is a fictionalised version of true events which took place in the American Deep South in the 30s.
As I read the book I began to feel more and more strongly that it should be included in the English Curriculum of all schools. A very powerful and disturbing account of real people and real events, told in a simple, clear and unmelodramatic way, which probably increases the horror of the injustice faced as a matter of daily life for so many people from the South.
An absolute tour de force which should be read alongside To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men and other classics of the period. It makes Maya Angelou's chronicles of her experiences (and I love Angelou), seem easy by comparison.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By V. ROWLAND on 24 May 2009
Format: Paperback
Scottsboro - a fictionalised account of a pivotal court case in 1930s Alabama in which nine Black Americans were sentenced to death for rapes which clearly never occurred.

The perversion of justice was so blatant that - such was the global outrage - a sea change began in American society that ultimately led to Barack Obama in the White House.

The story is told in two voices. Ruby Bates, whose lies condemned 9 innocent men to the electric chair and Alice Whittier, a campaigning journalist.

Prostitute Ruby Bates is so dirt poor in Depression America that she cannot afford a moral standpoint. Her survival choices are forced on her by bullying or bribery.. We meet Ruby at the start of the book when she is bullied into accusing nine black Americans of rape.

Journalist Alice Whittier is the voice of an educated person with a conscience, a woman in a man's world who develops an awareness of shades of moral grey areas while holding on to her sense of outrage at the corruption of racism, sexual hypocrisy and ruthlessness which drive the show trial of the "Scottsboro Boys".

There are no heroes, but there is always hope. History since 1931 at the time of the trial, up to the recent events in present day America show that change for good is achievable if enough people try hard enough. A novel utterly relevant to our times.

The voice of ordinary members of the public can be heard. We can push forward evolutionary change for a fairer world. Yes we can!!!
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By Kate Hopkins TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 25 July 2014
Format: Paperback
The trial of the Scottsboro Boys was one of the worst miscarriages of justice in the American south in the twentieth century. A group of black youths were on a freight train heading towards Chattanooga, Alabama, when they were attacked by a gang of white boys. They held their own - until some of the white boys jumped from the train and persuaded local officials to stop the service, and arrest the youths for 'picking a fight with them'. Two white women - millworkers Ruby Bates and Victoria Price - were also discovered on the train (they were attempting to hitch a free ride to Chattanooga). Either in a bid for attention, or to avoid being arrested for 'stowing away' on a freight train, Victoria Price claimed that the black youths had raped her and Ruby. Ruby backed her up. There was no physical evidence of a rape or struggle, and the women's stories made no sense and moreover kept changing. And yet, the local officials were ready to condemn nine innocent men on virtually no evidence, simply because of their skin colour. And the punishment was to be either life imprisonment or the electric chair. The trial, in which the boys were defended by brilliant lawyer Sam Leibowitz, became one of the most famous in history, and a shocking revelation of the racism and anti-Semitism in the American South, as Leibowitz fought for justice. In the end, only one of the boys made it to a content old age.

Feldman has stuck closely to the facts of the Scottsboro case in her novel - and with the exception of her principal narrator, journalist Alice Whittier, and Alice's friend Abel, a playwright, and her family, most of the characters in the novel were also real people.
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