The Lynching

The Lynching

The Epic Courtroom Battle That Brought Down the Klan

eBook - 2016
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Baker & Taylor
Describes the brutal killing of a young black man and subsequent conviction of two Klansmen in 1981 Alabama and the civil suit that exposed the true motives and philosophy of the organization and ultimately bankrupted them. By a New York Times best-selling author.


The New York Times bestselling author of The Kennedy Women chronicles the powerful and spellbinding true story of a brutal race-based killing in 1981 and subsequent trials that undid one of the most pernicious organizations in American history—the Ku Klux Klan.

On a Friday night in March 1981 Henry Hays and James Knowles scoured the streets of Mobile in their car, hunting for a black man. The young men were members of Klavern 900 of the United Klans of America. They were seeking to retaliate after a largely black jury could not reach a verdict in a trial involving a black man accused of the murder of a white man. The two Klansmen found nineteen-year-old Michael Donald walking home alone. Hays and Knowles abducted him, beat him, cut his throat, and left his body hanging from a tree branch in a racially mixed residential neighborhood.

Arrested, charged, and convicted, Hays was sentenced to death—the first time in more than half a century that the state of Alabama sentenced a white man to death for killing a black man. On behalf of Michael’s grieving mother, Morris Dees, the legendary civil rights lawyer and cofounder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, filed a civil suit against the members of the local Klan unit involved and the UKA, the largest Klan organization. Charging them with conspiracy, Dees put the Klan on trial, resulting in a verdict that would level a deadly blow to its organization.

Based on numerous interviews and extensive archival research, The Lynching brings to life two dramatic trials, during which the Alabama Klan’s motives and philosophy were exposed for the evil they represent. In addition to telling a gripping and consequential story, Laurence Leamer chronicles the KKK and its activities in the second half the twentieth century, and illuminates its lingering effect on race relations in America today.

The Lynching includes sixteen pages of black-and-white photographs.

Publisher: New York : HarperCollins, 2016
ISBN: 9780062458353
Branch Call Number: E-BOOK
Characteristics: 1 online resource
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May 24, 2017

If you know the name Morris Dees but not much about him, this is a good introduction. A good and engrossing read.

Aug 25, 2016

Interesting book about the lawsuit that killed the KKK, brought by Morris Dees, the founder of the Southern Poverty Law Group. The lawsuit was a civil case arising out of the 1981 lynching of Michael Donald by KKK members. Dees and his SPL assistants obtained from an Alabama jury a $7 million verdict, which, of course, the Klan could not pay. Surprisingly, Dees started out as a segregationist and even campaigned for George Wallace early in his career. Although several reviewers have complained that the book is really a history of the civil rights movement, it is hardly that. The book does go into background material to explain the KKK's status before and after the lynching and the toxic racial atmosphere that led to it (including George Wallace's part in promoting that atmosphere), but does not go into the entire civil rights movement. The writing is not as good as the best personal journalists', and is reminiscent of a news writer trying to meet a deadline.


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