• A Shot in the Moonlight

  • How a Freed Slave and a Confederate Soldier Fought for Justice in the Jim Crow South
  • By: Ben Montgomery
  • Narrated by: Zeno Robinson, Ben Montgomery
  • Length: 7 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (24 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

The sensational true story of George Dinning, a freed slave, who in 1899 joined forces with a Confederate war hero in search of justice in the Jim Crow South.

“Taut and tense. Inspiring and terrifying in its timelessness.” (Colson Whitehead, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad)

After moonrise on the cold night of January 21, 1897, a mob of 25 White men gathered in a patch of woods near Big Road in Southwestern Simpson County, Kentucky. Half carried rifles and shotguns, and a few tucked pistols in their pants. Their target was George Dinning, a freed slave who'd farmed peacefully in the area for 14 years and who had been wrongfully accused of stealing livestock from a neighboring farm. When the mob began firing through the doors and windows of Dinning's home, he fired back in self-defense, shooting and killing the son of a wealthy Kentucky family.

So began one of the strangest legal episodes in American history - one that ended with Dinning becoming the first Black man in America to win damages after a wrongful murder conviction.

Drawing on a wealth of never-before-published material, best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize finalist Ben Montgomery resurrects this dramatic but largely forgotten story and the unusual convergence of characters - among them a Confederate war hero-turned-lawyer named Bennett H. Young, Kentucky Governor William O'Connell Bradley, and George Dinning himself - that allowed this unlikely story of justice to unfold in a time and place where justice was all too rare. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2010 Ben Montgomery (P)2021 Little, Brown & Company

Critic Reviews

“True racial reconciliation requires that America take a hard and honest look at its past, and, to that end, A Shot in the Moonlight is essential reading. Ben Montgomery brings his considerable skills as a writer and reporter to the story of George Dinning, a Black man who somehow survived vigilante violence and found justice in 1897 Kentucky. More broadly, in his elegant narrative, Montgomery lays bare the horrors and indignities of the Jim Crow era that remain foundational to the pain of today.” (Tim Madigan, author of The Burning: The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921)

"Ben Montgomery's A Shot in the Moonlight is a meticulously reported account that resurrects a remarkable story of race and justice that had been largely lost to history. Like so many Black Americans throughout our nation's history, George Dinning demanded justice. Unlike so many others, and after a strenuous battle that Montgomery expertly documents, he was ultimately able to secure it." (Wesley Lowery, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author of They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore and a New Era in America's Racial Justice Movement)

"A Shot in the Moonlight is a searing narrative, thoroughly engrossing and timelier than ever. With remarkable journalism and meticulous research, Ben Montgomery has passionately crafted a masterwork of nonfiction." (Gilbert King, Pulitzer prize-winning author of Devil in the Grove)

What listeners say about A Shot in the Moonlight

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  • Overall
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Timely depiction of the fight for justice that continues

Great recollection of facts that sheds light on an often untold story, one that ends with a happier ending than most

1 person found this helpful

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Didn’t make it through the preface.

Don’t waste a credit on this audio book. Looked interesting but it woke trash. Don’t have to listen further.

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History Brought to Life

This was a well-paced, detailed, & engaging historical account. The 'characters' in the story are presented as the dynamic, sometimes flawed, people they were in real life which added a depth & context to the story that made it even more enjoyable.

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Fascinating story but it comes out slowly

This tells a fascinating story of a black man dealing with white supremacy in the south 150 years ago. The way that the story is told microscopically through points of view of legal system and different people involved in the story can be a bit of a drag. Holistically it is definitely worth listening to. I think the story is fascinating but I tend to listen to these books in small pieces at a time . I definitely thank the author for putting this together.