The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle That Brought Down the Klan

Morrow. Jun. 2016. 384p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062458346. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062458353. HIST
In 1981, members of the Ku Klux Klan murdered African American Michael Donald in Mobile, AL. Their prosecution and a subsequent civil lawsuit dealt a fatal blow to the largest U.S. Klan organization and effectively ended the protected status of the group and its members in Alabama. Leamer (The Price of Justice; The Kennedy Women) explores the tragic murder, drawing sad and telling details from interviews and court records. The middle section of the book looks back at the lives and careers of the men who would become adversaries in the courtroom: Morris Dees, the country lawyer from Montgomery who would emerge as an unlikely crusader for civil rights and who founded the influential Southern Poverty Law Center; and Robert Shelton, the leader of the United Klans of America. Leamer also traces the career of Alabama Gov. George Wallace, whose policies enabled the Klan to operate freely in the state for decades. The book closes with a dramatic account of the court case that would officially bankrupt the Klan.
VERDICT Leamer skillfully weaves the facts of a single case with the story of the rise and fall of the Ku Klux Klan. Recommended for all readers interested in American history. [See Prepub Alert, 12/7/15.]
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