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Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the…

Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of… (2012)

by Gilbert King

Other authors: Peter Francis James

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    Scottsboro by Ellen Feldman (sjmccreary)
    sjmccreary: a novel about the 1931 Alabama case that was mentioned several times in the book

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This book was heartrending. Considering it was after WWII when there were many Black servicemen, you would not think things happened the way they did. The book depicts many cases that involved the NAACP with Thurgood Marshall as the lead attorney. The main case in the book, The Groveland Boys, revolves around 4 black young men accused of raping a young white woman. Evidence showed it was a false accusation but the climate in the south allowed and encouraged the jury to ignore the evidence. I never realized that Florida has such a bad civil rights record. The coverups by government officials and law enforcement, including the FBI, governors etc is appalling. I am glad I read this book after it was recommended to me, but it is very disturbing to think that this type of thing was going on right up into 1970. Scary stuff. ( )
  Carlathelibrarian | Feb 5, 2019 |
This is a very worthy book, but an unusual one to categorize. On one hand, it very title suggests being offered as a crime story, much like Hampton Sides', Hellhound on His Trail, and, indeed, it starts off that way. On the other hand, there is much coverage of the NAACP and its internal politics, plus that organization's interactions with other civil rights organizations. To that extent, the book shifts more to being a classic history text. The transitions during the first part of the book are not always as smooth as they could be. Yet, ultimately, once all the ground work has been laid out for the reader -- what were Thurgood Marshall and his associates working on and under what conditions were the working -- the narrative flows much more evenly. In the end, the book seems more a political corruption analysis than either a crime story or civil rights history. I also had the distinct impression that the author would have preferred to have written an exciting story about Thurgood Marshall and the monumental Brown v. Board of Education case, but found this was the best way to get across to the reader why Justice Marshall was such a unique and significant American. The Groveland Boys case offered itself more easily to showing the main character in action while amply demonstrating his intelligence and skills. I should also add that, having read several books about civil rights violations and struggles in the Deep South, this book shows some nuances of Southern life interracial dynamics that other worthy books have failed to do as well. Despite its complexities, this book is definitely recommended. ( )
  larryerick | Apr 26, 2018 |
Thurgood Marshall's role as an NAACP lawyer brings him to Groveland, Fla., to defend three African American boys accused of rape in 1949's Jim Crow South. This recounting tells of Marshall and his coworkers, their fear of travelling south, the role of the press in advertising the case to Northerners, and the extraordinary courage of Harry and Harriet Moore who were "the first martyrs of the Civil Rights struggle." Despite the importance of the case, the Groveland defendants themselves did not fare well, thanks to Willy McCall, a Southern sheriff straight out of central casting. Not an easy read. But you already knew that, didn't you? ( )
  LaurelPoe | Dec 25, 2017 |
Reading the history of Thurgood Marshall's intervention to save 4 black men from going to the electric chair for a rape they did not commit is especially poignant in view of the racial injustice we have been experiencing in our country this past year. When will it ever stop?!

Devil in the Grove is a well-researched look at how people of color were treated (mostly in the southern states and particularly in Florida) in the late 1940s and early '50s. The story fills a gap in the history of our country that I, as a child of the '60s, did not learn in school. Thurgood Marshall was a lawyer for the NAACP who lead the fight to desegregate schools and provide "equal protection under the law" for people of color. He had to battle the virulent and violent racism that characterized a substantial portion of white society that controlled law enforcement and the courts. Sheriff by day, KKK by night! Truly horrific. Marshall and other lawyers involved in the Groveland case risked their lives every time they went to Florida to try and save these young men. They succeeded in exposing the completely fabricated judicial system that operated in much of the South. I don't know enough to presume more than what the book describes regarding how widespread miscarriages of justice were outside the South but my heart breaks with the thought that supposedly normal human beings could be so cruel and heartless.

— review in progress; will finish soon ( )
  krazy4katz | Jul 10, 2016 |
In this 2013 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, Devil in the Grove is about Thurgood Marshall's ("Mr Civil Rights" and arguably one of the best lawyers of the 20th century) work to save three black men accused of gang raping a 17 year old girl.

Gilbert King did an amazing amount of research for this book including reading the FBI's Groveland case files and the NAACP's legal defense files - and this research really shone through. His prose was acerbic at times, and it flowed smoothly keeping my interest the whole way through. Devil in the Grove gave a lot of background information on Thurgood Marshall's life outside of the of the trial, thus bringing a personal light to the story. Gilbert also included stories about KKK activities against lawyers who defended black people accused of rape, which was terrifying and disgusting.

Overall, a fantastic book. Read it. ( )
  The_Hibernator | Feb 5, 2016 |
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“Gilbert King has done a remarkable job of weaving together history, sociology, law and detective work of his own, to reveal facts that even I, one of the defense counsel in the case, had not been aware of until now.” (Jack Greenberg, Alphonse Fletcher Professor of Law, Columbia University, former Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense Fund. )
added by krazy4katz | editAmazon.com, Jack Greenberg

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Gilbert Kingprimary authorall editionscalculated
James, Peter Francissecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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For Lorna, Maddie, and Liv and in memory of Matthew P. (Matty) Boylan
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November 18, 196

"If that son of a bitch contradicts me again, I'm going to wrap a chair around his goddamned head."
There is a law governing the meeting of the races. When a powerful race meets a helpless race, two things happen. First there is a carnival of crime. Cruelty and oppression take place: some men in each race become hard-hearted. But the reverse also happens thereafter; goodness and mercy are developed; certain men become saints and heroes.

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061792284, Hardcover)

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.”

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:00 -0400)

In 1949, Florida's orange industry was booming with cheap Jim Crow labor. When a white seventeen-year-old Groveland girl cried rape, vicious Sheriff McCall was fast on the trail of four young blacks who dared to envision a future for themselves. Then the Ku Klux Klan rolled into town, burning homes and chasing hundreds of blacks into the swamps. So began the chain of events that would bring Thurgood Marshall, the man known as "Mr. Civil Rights," into the 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 and Marshall had endured 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 the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund files, King shines new light on this remarkable civil rights crusader against a heroic backdrop.--From publisher description.… (more)

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