I am an avid eclectic reader.
“Devil in the Grove” won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction. Gilbert King did a lot of research to write the story; he goes into painstaking detail about the tactics used by Thurgood Marshall (future Supreme Court Judge) and his co-NAACP attorney Franklin Williams to chip away at the foundations of the Jim Crow Law. He documents in detail the reign of terror conducted in Lake County by the KKK and Sheriff Willis McCall who is portrayed as a ruthless brutal man. The book is about four black men falsely accused of raping Normal Lee Padgett, a 17 year old white woman in Groveland Florida in 1949. King’s research shows that there was no physical evidence and two of the Groveland Four were not even within a day’s drive of the area Padgett claimed the rape took place. Sheriff McCall killed two of the men while in his custody. He was never charged for the shootings. The other two were badly beaten many times but no one was ever charged with the beatings. The KKK burned to the ground the black community in Groveland. King details the complicated case involving 4 defendants, several trials, various appeals, numerous defense attorneys, multiple judges and different points of law. I learned a few pearls from the story 1) more black man were lynched in Florida than any other Southern State and 2) these were the type of cases that evidentially lead to removing the death penalty from rape cases. I was appalled at the treatment of black people by the white in Lake County, if the blacks were the main pickers of the oranges, I just cannot understand why they were beaten and killed. Dead men do not pick oranges. Also it is a disgrace to have Sheriff McCall be re-elected to office for over 20 years. I read this book because I am reading books about the Supreme Court Justices and even though this book takes place before Marshall was appointed to the court I thought it would provide me with an insight into the man, which the book did. Peter Francis James did an excellent job narrating the book.
Why were so many agents in the USSR being compromised to the KGB and executed? Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille, longtime veterans of the CIA were in the forefront of a small group assigned to the mission, in early 1991 to expose the traitor (mole) in their midst. They give a detailed step by step account of the hunt and the arrest of Aldrich Ames. Ames was a 30 year veteran of the CIA and Directorate of Operations. They give credit to the people both CIA and FBI that worked with them on the project. They also discuss some of the other traitors uncovered during the time. I found it interesting that in the beginning of the book it was revealed that both women were college graduates, spoke several languages, but the only jobs open in the CIA to women at the time was as typist and secretary. They were hired and had to work their way up as areas were opened to women as the years went by. As I was from the same time frame I was well aware of this problem. It is nice to have the note in passing, written in a book, cause a look back at how far women have come in the work place. The book reveals it was the tedious attention to detail and the following of the money that finally caught Ames. They note Ames was a man that thought women were of no value in the work place so it was great he was caught by two women. I am sure that a lot of information was censored by the CIA but this book is of interest to us history buffs. Janet Metzger did a good job narrating the book.
I will never look at the dictionary the same again. I had never given a thought to how someone created a dictionary so I found this book fascinating. Winchester did a good job researching the history of the Oxford dictionary and the story of the murder and the madman made it even more interesting. Going from the Battle of the Wilderness in the U.S. Civil War to Oxford Dons makes one take a big leap of the mind to fit them all together into one interesting story. I am going to look for more Winchester books. I had read Krakatoa by Winchester because of the reviews in Audible and at the end was a excerpt of The Professor and the Madman, so I downloaded and boy am I glad I did. Interesting book.