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Publisher's Summary

The New York Times best-selling author of The Kennedy Women chronicles the powerful and spellbinding true story of a brutal race-based killing in 1981 and subsequent trials that undid one of the most pernicious organizations in American history - the Ku Klux Klan.

On a Friday night in March 1981, Henry Hays and James Knowles scoured the streets of Mobile in their car, hunting for a black man. The young men were members of Klavern 900 of the United Klans of America. They were seeking to retaliate after a largely black jury could not reach a verdict in a trial involving a black man accused of the murder of a white man.

The two Klansmen found 19-year-old Michael Donald walking home alone. Hays and Knowles abducted him, beat him, cut his throat, and left his body hanging from a tree branch in a racially mixed residential neighborhood. Arrested, charged, and convicted, Hays was sentenced to death - the first time in more than half a century that the state of Alabama sentenced a white man to death for killing a black man. On behalf of Michael's grieving mother, legendary civil rights lawyer and cofounder of the Southern Poverty Law Center Morris Dees filed a civil suit against the members of the local Klan unit involved and the UKA, the largest Klan organization. Charging them with conspiracy, Dees put the Klan on trial, resulting in a verdict that would level a deadly blow to its organization.

Based on numerous interviews and extensive archival research, The Lynching brings to life two dramatic trials, during which the Alabama Klan's motives and philosophy were exposed for the evil they represent. In addition to telling a gripping and consequential story, Laurence Leamer chronicles the KKK and its activities in the second half the 20th century and illuminates its lingering effect on race relations in America today.

©2016 Laurence Leamer (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers

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Very Readable

The Lynching was not what I expected, which was a longer and possibly sensational court trial. Instead, it is a very readable history of the civil rights movement in Alabama. Yes, it reports the murder of an African-American teen in Mobile in the 1980's and how justice was finally accomplished and how that led to the demise of the Klan. It does so much more than that because it recounts the fear the white supremacists caused and the struggles of the movement in the 1960's, thus putting the murder in context. The reader can learn about George Wallace, Morris Dees, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the UKA, and more. Parts of this book reminded me of today's political environment. It may shed some light on the appeal of a certain kind of political machinations.

I would hope that those whose knowledge of this part of U.S. history is vague would turn to this book as a good way to become better informed. As racial tension still is with us, we owe it to our country and to each other to be well-informed about what has gone before us. This book is a rather painless way to learn for the book holds the reader's attention. The audio version is well narrated. I recommend it.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 02-10-17

And Our Current Day Hatred Keeps This Scary

I just finished "The Lynching" in time for watching walls to be built, visas to be revoked, all because of our hatred and mistrust for The Other. This book brings to life the hatred of a twisted man, Bennie Jack Hays and how he inspired his son, who he beat down so badly he would've done anything for his father, and a teenager to do the unspeakable. In 1981.
Hate stays current; hate stays alive and well.
It makes the murder as brutal as it was, those who did it as ignorant and pugnacious as they were, and shows the power one organization can have over a LOT of people.
What was so chilling was when history was gotten into, primarily George Wallace, who thought nothing of spewing inflammatory rhetoric and then stood back as his words were acted upon with violence.
Sound familiar?
Martin Dees is the lawyer who initially makes his fortune by defending Klan members without regard; after all, to him segregation is natural. But he finds his conscience and starts doing the right thing when confronted with the brutality of the time.
Excellent book about right and wrong, about peace and war.
About a nineteen-year old boy who fought hard for his life because he just wanted to live.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Great story

Very interesting story that illuminates the civil rights struggle- shocking to learn the details of segregation in the south.

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  • Tom
  • Waverly hall, Gabon
  • 07-12-16

Fascinating story of one of the seminal events of the Civil Rights struggle.

Like all Leamer's books, thoroughly researched and detailed, yet reads like a suspense novel. Narration is very good. Hard to stop listening.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Forgotten history

A surprising account of a lynching in Alabama as late as 1981. The early racist history of and later rehabilitation of Morris Dees, who became the founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center is an unexpected twist.

Great read, well presented.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Timely

The fact that black men were STILL being lynched in this country in the 80's is a shocking realization just how far we have NOT COME! There are heros in this book that will reaffirm your faith in humanity during a ugly time not to long ago,and reminds us that the Klan begun over a century ago still can reel it's vicious head at any time. During a time of the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement,nothing could be more TIMELY! Good narration.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • dk
  • 09-09-16

very interesting

Part II felt a little long winded and disjointed. overall, it was a fascinating chapter of Civil Rights History that I was not familiar with.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good. Just Not THAT Good

The narration was good. This was easy reading, mostly held my interest as I looked forward to learning more about an era that I already knew. I came away from the story feeling as if it wasn't quite finished, i.e. there's much more not said than said. Maybe my expectations were too high but I felt slightly disappointed with it overall.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Important American History

An outstanding narrative on some of our ugliest , American History. It's important that current, and future, generations know this in order to avoid its recurrence.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful