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Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America | [Gilbert King]

Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America

Devil in the Grove is the winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. Arguably the most important American lawyer of the 20th 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. Despite death threats, the clan, and the urging of his associates, Marshall knew he had to defend "the Groveland Boys".
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Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Winner, History, 2014

Pulitzer Prize, General Nonfiction, 2013

Arguably the most important American lawyer of the 20th 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 17-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."

©2012 Gilbert King (P)2013 HarperCollinsPublishers

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  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 01-17-14
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 01-17-14 Member Since 2010

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

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    "the fight for civil rights"

    “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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill Vancouver, WA, United States 06-08-13
    Bill Vancouver, WA, United States 06-08-13 Member Since 2011

    Love well written and well narrated books of any type.

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    "Stunning history of the Jim Crow south. Essential"
    Would you listen to Devil in the Grove again? Why?

    Yes! The book deservedly won the Pulitzer Prize and it was a riveting listen.


    What other book might you compare Devil in the Grove to and why?

    No book compares. The story was unbelievable. A combination of true crime and courtroom thriller.


    Which character – as performed by Peter Francis James – was your favorite?

    Thurgood Marshall.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Too long for that.


    Any additional comments?

    This book deserves to become a classic. It is riveting and proves that truth is stranger than fiction. The story will frighten you, anger you and make you ashamed at the cruel treatment of African Americans by law enforcement personnel.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret Colgate, WI, United States 02-23-14
    Margaret Colgate, WI, United States 02-23-14 Member Since 2011

    Tell me about a good book. No other gifts necessary.

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    "American Horror Story & Profiles in Courage"

    There are no words. Sad, horrible, despicable come to mind over and over. And then courage, honor, strength. I think this should be on a required reading list for US (white) citizens.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Larry Yorba Linda, CA, United States 11-16-13
    Larry Yorba Linda, CA, United States 11-16-13 Member Since 2009

    No matter where you go... there you are!

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    "Essential to Understanding America"
    Any additional comments?

    Having been born in 1952, this book helped me better understand the turmoil of the 1960s. Devil in the Grove was a chilling account of an America that had to change. It read like a real-life "To Kill a Mockingbird."

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mr. Panama City, FL, United States 06-27-14
    Mr. Panama City, FL, United States 06-27-14 Member Since 2007

    Jonnie

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    "Five star book... very interesting"

    I like history so I wanted to broaden my background on the fifties and civil rights issues. I knew of Thurgood Marshall's background regarding Brown and his position on the Supreme Court. Groveland opened up a whole new perspective for me. What Marshall had to go through prior to Brown was absolutely amazing. He really was a great man and deserved his position and fame. This was a great story. It kept my interest throughout the entire book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Waltham, MA, United States 06-22-14
    Mark Waltham, MA, United States 06-22-14 Member Since 2010

    MTF

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    "Facscinating history; writing stretched out a bit"

    I'm very glad I listened to this book about racial injustice in Florida in the '50's. The book captured the racist time and place, but also captured the change that was starting to take place in America. It was good legal drama, riveting at times, and an engaging and painful human drama. Thurgood Marshall plays a big role as an NCAA lawyer defending black men of the rape of a white woman. My criticism is that for the first two-thirds of the book, background anecdotes took up more time than the narrative of the case. The strand of the story got lost among those side stories, including the people and the workings of the NCAA. Some background is interesting and important to the context of a story, but tighter editing could have made this a more engaging read and listen. The last third is excellent. As interesting as this is, an even better book is Simple Justice by Richard Kluger. That is about long legal journey leading to Brown v the Board of Education. That book was riveting from start to end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diana United States 03-04-14
    Diana United States 03-04-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Excellent Novel: Many Perspectives"
    Where does Devil in the Grove rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Excellent, kept my attention


    What did you like best about this story?

    The multiple perspectives was fascinating. History focus on the NAACP, Florida Jim Crow, and Thurgood Marshall.


    What about Peter Francis James’s performance did you like?

    Credible and great job.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Anger… I had to put the "book" down… at the hate and dishonesty. All overwhelming! Paused to think about Florida justice system… same things occurring now.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dell FRUITLAND PARK, FL, United States 01-09-14
    Dell FRUITLAND PARK, FL, United States 01-09-14 Member Since 2013

    I enjoy historical fiction, humor, and biographies. I listen to my Audible books as I drive in my car or on my IPhone.

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    "Very Informative read"
    Where does Devil in the Grove rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This book has a lot of history surrounding the movement and beginning of Civil Rights. I grew up in Florida and was not aware of the many criminal activities that played into Civil Rights that happened here.


    Did Peter Francis James do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    I was not impressed with the narrator. Being a native Floridian I was disappointed how Mr. James mis-pronounced several cities in Florida. Umatilla and Tavares are two of them that stick out in my mind. I wish he had researched the proper way to pronounce these names before narrating. Also, when changing characters I think it would have been better to have added another narrator.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The horrible treatment of those that were falsely accused of rape.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan PUNTA GORDA, FL, United States 10-28-13
    Susan PUNTA GORDA, FL, United States 10-28-13 Member Since 2011

    Profesionl, hard working woman who travels weekly, enjoys life. My best Friends are Michael and Scooter. Nonfiction books are the best!

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    "How could this have happened"
    Where does Devil in the Grove rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This book is right up there with the best...


    What did you like best about this story?

    It's history, it's true, and most of all I learned about injustes to human beings.


    What does Peter Francis James bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Love his voice


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    WOW, there were several, no there were many..


    Any additional comments?

    Great Book

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ira United States 08-29-13
    Ira United States 08-29-13 Member Since 2003
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    "One of the best and most disturbing books"

    King is an incredible story teller. The people, places, scenes are alive as the book goes thru this case minute by minute and day by day. I felt like I was living in the middle of this horrible geography in American history. Thank goodness we have come so far in America, although there is still a lot to be done. And Thurgood Marshall, unlike the hagiography of so many recent American biographies, has many weaknesses but still emerges as a great historical figure who made a profound difference. Everyone should read this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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