L to r: NAACP attorney Jack Greenberg, defendant Walter Irvin, NAACP counsel Thurgood Marshall
Reading like a great novel, Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King captures your attention by sending chills down your spine. And not just once. Case after case is presented in stark, horrifying detail, from the hair-raising attempts made on Thurgood Marshall and other NAACP lawyers to the lynchings, riots, and government corruption found throughout the south in the post-war Jim Crow years.
Growing up in Jacksonville, Florida, in the 70's, I heard rumors of trouble, even at my own high school. But I personally never saw or heard any racism--my classes were integrated, my church as well, and we never had any trouble when the youth group came to our house. So I was horrified to read that, during the 40's, the largest number of racial incidents happened in the state of Florida. And then to discover that the case on which the book is based took place in Florida.
Although King loses the chronological thread and confuses the reader from time to time, the book still comes alive like a thriller. We experience vicariously the legal triumphs and advances made by Marshall and the NAACP during those years. Marshall remains unwavering in his work and dedication to advancing civil rights and avoiding entanglements with other issues such as communism. We also get acquainted with Harry Moore, executive secretary of the Florida NAACP, who dies with his wife when their house blows up. No charges were ever brought. There are many such heroes in this book--real people who made our country what it is today. Highly recommended. ~ Tessa J. Eger 4 out of 5 stars