Tessa's book review: Devil in the grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland boys, and the dawn of a new America by Gilbert King

   Attorneys Jack Greenberg and Thurgood Marshall with defendant Walter Irvin, center

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



Tessa's picture

Thanks to Jon Hart for

Thanks to Jon Hart for telling me about this great book and reviewing it for Adult Summer Reading!



janedb's picture

Great review!

It was a thrilling, exciting, tragic and frightening time.  I walked for Civil Rights while in high school in Chicago during the 60's and lived through the thrill of Marshall's elevation to the Supreme Court.  It was a time of intense and necessary societal changes but looking back I seem to remember most the horrible murders; of Medgar Evers, the 3 young college boys just trying to help people to register to vote, of JFK, RFK and MLK.  If you didn't grow up in those days, go back and read some history, like this book.