A Death in Texas by Dina Temple-Raston
A Story of Race, Murder and a Small Town's Struggle for Redemption

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Synopsis

An extraordinary account of how a small Texas town struggled to come to grips with its racist past in the aftermath of the brutal murder of James Byrd, Jr.

On June 7, 1998, a forty-nine-year-old black man named James Byrd, Jr., was chained to the bumper of a truck and dragged three miles down a country road by a trio of young white men. It didn't take long for the residents of Jasper, Texas, to learn about the murder or to worry that the name of their town would become the nation's shorthand for hate crimes.

From the initial investigation through the trials and their aftermath, A Death in Texas tells the story of the infamous Byrd murder as seen through the eyes of enlightened Sheriff Billy Rowles. What he sees is a community forced to confront not only a grisly crime but also antebellum traditions about race. Drawing on extensive interviews with key players, journalist Dina Temple-Raston introduces a remarkable cast of characters, from the baby-faced killer, Bill King, to Joe Tonahill, Jasper's white patriarch who can't understand the furor over the killing. There's also James Byrd, the hard-drinking victim with his own dark past; the prosecutor and defense attorneys; and Bill King's father, who is dying of a broken heart as he awaits his son's execution.

Just as Bernard Lefkowitz pulled back the curtain on Glenridge, New Jersey, in his classic work Our Guys, Temple-Raston goes behind the scenes in Jasper, Texas, to tell the story of a town where racism and evil made itself at home

 

About Dina Temple-Raston

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Dina Temple-Raston spent her early journalism career as a foreign correspondent in China and Hong Kong and was a longtime White House reporter for Bloomberg Business News. This is her first book. She lives in New York City.
 
Published January 2, 2003 by Henry Holt and Co.. 352 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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Scene by scene, the author shows the two races sharing equal time at press conferences, heading off a confrontation between Ku Klux Klan members and black separatists, and tearing down the fence separating white and black sections of a cemetery.

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Publishers Weekly

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This perceptive, grimly compelling account of the brutal 1998 murder of James Byrd in Jasper, Tex., is the first book on this nationally reported incident and a fine piece of journalistic reporting

Oct 22 2001 | Read Full Review of A Death in Texas: A Story of ...

Publishers Weekly

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This perceptive, grimly compelling account of the brutal 1998 murder of James Byrd in Jasper, Tex., is the first book on this nationally reported incident and a fine piece of journalistic reporting, covering the prosecution of Byrd's killers and the social and political aftermath for Jasper.

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