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
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.
Love well written and well narrated books of any type.
Yes! The book deservedly won the Pulitzer Prize and it was a riveting listen.
No book compares. The story was unbelievable. A combination of true crime and courtroom thriller.
Too long for that.
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.
Tell me about a good book. No other gifts necessary.
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.
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."
The narration and writing was suburb - but more than that, the depth of research made this book worth reading.
I realized maybe halfway through the book that some of the people discussed might still be alive. This book illuminates and gives context for our civil rights struggles today.
This has been the most influential audible book I'v downloaded thus far. I can't recommend it enough; but, be prepared to be confounded by the cruelty.
This is a terrific story that the author imbues with drama and suspense, despite the fact that we know the likely results from the beginning. I knew little about the details of Thurgood Marshall's legal work before he was appointed to the bench. It's clear from this story that he is a great man and a real American hero, who should be far more widely celebrated.
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.
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.
Excellent, kept my attention
The multiple perspectives was fascinating. History focus on the NAACP, Florida Jim Crow, and Thurgood Marshall.
Credible and great job.
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.
Profesionl, hard working woman who travels weekly, enjoys life. My best Friends are Michael and Scooter. Nonfiction books are the best!
This book is right up there with the best...
It's history, it's true, and most of all I learned about injustes to human beings.
Love his voice
WOW, there were several, no there were many..
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