Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King
Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America

82%

17 Critic Reviews

King traces the pernicious tentacles of bigotry and expertly depicts the role of the press, the cast of characters and the entire contextual story of civil-rights law and the NAACP. Deeply researched and superbly composed.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

* Winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction* Nominated for a 2013 Edgar Award 
* Book of the Year (Non-fiction, 2012) The Boston GlobeChristian Science Monitor In 1949, Florida's orange industry was booming, and citrus barons got rich on the backs of cheap Jim Crow labor. To maintain order and profits, they turned to Willis V. McCall, a violent sheriff who ruled Lake County with murderous resolve. When a white seventeen-year-old Groveland girl cried rape, McCall was fast on the trail of four young blacks who dared to envision a future for themselves beyond the citrus groves. By day's end, the Ku Klux Klan had rolled into town, burning the homes of blacks to the ground and chasing hundreds into the swamps, hell-bent on lynching the young men who came to be known as "the Groveland Boys."

And so began the chain of events that would bring Thurgood Marshall, the man known as "Mr. Civil Rights," and the most important American lawyer of the twentieth century, into the deadly fray. Associates thought it was suicidal for him to wade into the "Florida Terror" at a time when he was irreplaceable to the burgeoning civil rights movement, but the lawyer would not shrink from the fight--not after the Klan had murdered one of Marshall's NAACP associates involved with the case and Marshall had endured continual threats that he would be next.

Drawing on a wealth of never-before-published material, including the FBI's unredacted Groveland case files, as well as unprecedented access to the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund files, King shines new light on this remarkable civil rights crusader, setting his rich and driving narrative against the heroic backdrop of a case that U.S. Supreme Court justice Robert Jackson decried as "one of the best examples of one of the worst menaces to American justice.
 

About Gilbert King

See more books from this Author
Gilbert King has written about U.S. Supreme Court history for the New York Times and the Washington Post, and is a featured contributor to Smithsonian magazine's history blog, Past Imperfect. He is the author of The Execution of Willie Francis: Race, Murder, and the Search for Justice in the American South. He lives in New York City with his wife and two daughters.
 
Published March 6, 2012 by Harper. 453 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Law & Philosophy, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Devil in the Grove
All: 17 | Positive: 17 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Excellent
on Nov 21 2011

King traces the pernicious tentacles of bigotry and expertly depicts the role of the press, the cast of characters and the entire contextual story of civil-rights law and the NAACP. Deeply researched and superbly composed.

Read Full Review of Devil in the Grove: Thurgood ... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Good
on Jan 09 2012

The story’s drama and pathos make it a page-turner, but King’s attention to detail, fresh material, and evenhanded treatment of the villains make it a worthy contribution to the history of the period, while offering valuable insight into Marshall’s work and life.

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Book Reporter

Good
Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger on Apr 27 2012

The subtitle of DEVIL IN THE GROVE expresses the hope for the “dawn of a New America.” Drawing on many sources, King, a Supreme Court historian, has brought Justice Marshall to life and revived old memories that die hard, especially since some of the same issues seem to have risen again, born anew in the “old south."

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Christian Science Monitor

Above average
Reviewed by Meredith Bennett-Smith on Mar 07 2012

King’s new book, Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America, centers around one of the most explosive and physically dangerous trials Marshall ever tried.

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Booklist Online

Good
Reviewed by Vanessa Bush on Feb 01 2012

King draws on court documents and FBI archives to offer a compelling chronicle of the accusation, which led to a paroxysm of violence against the black community in Groveland, reminiscent of the destruction of Rosewood, in 1923...

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Good
Reviewed by Bruce Allen Murphy on May 23 2013

This terrifying and indelible account of Marshall’s battle against Jim Crow should be read by everyone interested in the history of civil rights in the United States.

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Good
Reviewed by Gilbert King on May 23 2012

This terrifying and indelible account of Marshall’s battle against Jim Crow should be read by everyone interested in the history of civil rights in the United States.

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BookPage

Good
Reviewed by Henry Carrigan on Feb 09 2012

With a cast of characters that seem to come straight out of the pages of an Erskine Caldwell novel—corrupt sheriff Willis McCall; a shady prosecutor; everyday workers who emerge at night in the robes of the KKK—Devil in the Grove is an engrossing chronicle of a little-heard story from the pre-Civil Rights era.

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The Seattle Times

Good
Reviewed by Charles Cross on Mar 25 2012

"Devil in the Grove" intertwines their stories in an important, and hopefully never forgotten, chapter of American history.

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

Good
Reviewed by Gilbert King on Mar 26 2012

King writes that "there is not a Supreme Court justice who served with Marshall or a lawyer who clerked for him that did not hear his renditions, always colorfully told, of the Groveland story." While the case, until now, has been mostly forgotten, Marshall, for good reason, never forgot it.

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Macleans

Good
Reviewed by Peter Shawn on Apr 02 2012

It will be many more years before anything resembling true justice is available to wrongly accused blacks in Florida. And McCall? He continued to serve as sheriff until 1972. This is his story, not Marshall’s.

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Jackson District Library

Above average
Reviewed by Tessa Eger on Jul 27 2012

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.

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Salty Eggs

Good
Reviewed by Shannon Sharpe on Apr 13 2012

This book is impossible to read without deep sadness, raw anger, and unending frustration. Tears are unavoidable.

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The Seattle Times

Good
Reviewed by Charles Cross on Mar 25 2012

"Devil in the Grove" intertwines their stories in an important, and hopefully never forgotten, chapter of American history.

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Rhapsody in Books

Excellent
on Feb 29 2012

This is a book that should be required reading. This horrifying, edge-of-your-seat tale really happened, and not that long ago. Its repercussions helped make the country what it is today. T

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Sophisticated Dorkiness

Excellent
Reviewed by Kim on Apr 09 2012

King’s book filled me with so much outrage at the system, admiration for those who fought against it, and appreciation for the people who learned to think differently after seeing the case of the Groveland Four. That’s exactly what great nonfiction can, and should, do for readers.

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bookgoonie

Good
on Jun 17 2014

Drawing on a wealth of never-before-published material, including the FBI’s unredacted Groveland case files, as well as unprecedented access to the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund files, King shines new light on this remarkable civil rights crusade...

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Malinda Charter 16 Aug 2014

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