Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy

Atlantic Monthly. Jan. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9780802128386. $28. HIST
Zucchino (Thunder Run) explains a tragic story of denied civil rights. Just two years after the landmark Supreme Court case Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896), in which African Americans were considered to be separate but equal, emboldened white supremacists staged a governmental coup in Wilmington, NC in 1898, setting back civil rights for decades to come. Tactics included ballot stuffing and media manipulation. Zucchino uses personal diaries and testimonies from those present to engage readers. He also aims to illustrate the context of the coup and its repercussions on the following century of disenfranchisement; his account is extremely compelling and convincing.
VERDICT Even astute readers of history and civil rights will be alarmed by this story, which is why it should be read. For fans of American history, politics, and civil rights.
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