A Murder in Virginia by Suzanne Lebsock
Southern Justice on Trial

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It's 1895 in Virginia, and a white woman lies in her farmyard, murdered with an ax. Suspicion soon falls on a young black sawmill hand, who tries to flee the county. Captured, he implicates three women, accusing them of plotting the murder and wielding the ax. In vivid courtroom scenes, Bancroft Prize-winning historian Suzanne Lebsock recounts their dramatic trials and brings us close to women we would never otherwise know: a devout (and pregnant) mother of nine; another hard-working mother (also of nine); and her plucky, quick-tempered daughter. All claim to be innocent. With the danger of lynching high, can they get justice?Lebsock takes us deep into this contentious, often surprising world, where blacks struggle to hold on to their post -- Civil War gains against a rising tide of white privilege. A sensation in its own time, this case offers the modern reader a riveting encounter with a South in the throes of change.

About Suzanne Lebsock

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Suzanne Lebsock is a recipient of a MacArthur fellowship and professor of history at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Her work winning The Free Women of Petersburg received the Bancroft Prize. She lives in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Published March 1, 2003 by W. W. Norton & Company. 384 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Retrials in a racially divided courtroom with speechifying southern lawyers waxing rhetorical as only they could, feuding sheriffs, eager reporters, and a stalwart governor all play integral roles in this deeply researched chronicle.

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Publishers Weekly

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In recounting a 1895 murder investigation and trial in Lunenberg County, Va., Lebsock (The Free Women of Petersburg) meticulously brings to life a lost episode of a small, segregated Southern town and frames it against the backdrop of racial strife in the country as a whole.

Mar 02 2003 | Read Full Review of A Murder in Virginia: Souther...

The New York Review of Books

“They should and ought to have been promptly lynched at once,” wrote Robert Allen, who had recently been elected to his twentieth consecutive term as a justice of the peace, “for there is not the least shadow of doubt about the guilt of all four of them.” In A Murder in Virginia: Southern Justi...

Jul 15 2004 | Read Full Review of A Murder in Virginia: Souther...

Project MUSE

When their trial began, the untiring reporting of John Mitchell Jr., editor of the African American weekly the Richmond Planet and champion of the women's cause, kept this obscure murder a standard feature of the Richmond papers.

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The Raw Reviewers

On the rare occasion that she does not have her nose stuck in a book, she enjoys watching movies, surfing the net and shopping (especially for books).

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