The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle That Brought Down the Klan

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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.

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About the author

Laurence Leamer is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books, including The Kennedy Women and The Price of Justice. He has worked in a French factory and a West Virginia coal mine, and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal. His play, Rose, was produced off Broadway last year. He lives in Palm Beach, Florida, and Washington, D.C., with his wife, Vesna Obradovic Leamer.

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Additional Information

Publisher
HarperCollins
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Published on
Jun 7, 2016
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Pages
384
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ISBN
9780062458353
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / 20th Century
History / United States / State & Local / South (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV)
Social Science / Discrimination & Race Relations
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Laurence Leamer
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Laurence Leamer
A nonfiction legal thriller that traces the fourteen-year struggle of two lawyers to bring the most powerful coal baron in American history, Don Blankenship, to justice

Don Blankenship, head of Massey Energy since the early 1990s, ran an industry that provides nearly half of America's electric power. But wealth and influence weren't enough for Blankenship and his company, as they set about destroying corporate and personal rivals, challenging the Constitution, purchasing the West Virginia judiciary, and willfully disregarding safety standards in the company's mines—in which scores died unnecessarily.

As Blankenship hobnobbed with a West Virginia Supreme Court justice in France, his company polluted the drinking water of hundreds of citizens while he himself fostered baroque vendettas against anyone who dared challenge his sovereignty over coal mining country. Just about the only thing that stood in the way of Blankenship's tyranny over a state and an industry was a pair of odd-couple attorneys, Dave Fawcett and Bruce Stanley, who undertook a legal quest to bring justice to this corner of America. From the backwoods courtrooms of West Virginia they pursued their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and to a dramatic decision declaring that the wealthy and powerful are not entitled to purchase their own brand of law.
The Price of Justice is a story of corporate corruption so far-reaching and devastating it could have been written a hundred years ago by Ida Tarbell or Lincoln Steffens. And as Laurence Leamer demonstrates in this captivating tale, because it's true, it's scarier than fiction.

Laurence Leamer
The life of Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most remarkable success stories in the U.S. Here is a young man from an Austrian village who became the greatest bodybuilder in history, a behemoth who even today in retirement is the dominating figure in the sport. Here is an immigrant with a heavy accent and a four syllable last name, who marries a Kennedy princess and becomes the number one movie star in the world, an icon known and celebrated everywhere. Here is a political novice with no administrative experience who becomes governor of California in one of the most unusual and controversial elections in American history, and confounds his critics by proving an effective, popular leader.

In Fantastic, Leamer shows how and why this man of willful ambition and limitless drive achieved his unprecedented accomplishments. As the author of a celebrated trilogy on the Kennedy family, Leamer has access to a unique array of sources. Leamer traveled with candidate Schwarzenegger during the gubernatorial campaign. He has interviewed Governor Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver, and their closest friends and associates, most of whom had never talked to an author before. The result is a startlingly intimate book, the pages studded with news making revelations. This book of passionate intensity captures a Schwarzenegger unlike any other public figure of our time, a unique political/cultural figure, his time in Sacramento only a way station on a journey where no one has traveled before. The book captures the personal Schwarzenegger, too, and the story of his single days, marriage, and family life. No one who reads this book will ever see Schwarzenegger in the same way again.

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