A Massacre in Memphis: The Race Riot That Shook the Nation One Year After the Civil War

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An unprecedented account of one of the bloodiest and most significant racial clashes in American history

In May 1866, just a year after the Civil War ended, Memphis erupted in a three-day spasm of racial violence that saw whites rampage through the city's black neighborhoods. By the time the fires consuming black churches and schools were put out, forty-six freed slaves had been murdered. Congress, furious at this and other evidence of white resistance in the conquered South, launched what is now called Radical Reconstruction, policies to ensure the freedom of the region's four million blacks-and one of the most remarkable experiments in American history.

Stephen V. Ash's A Massacre in Memphis is a portrait of a Southern city that opens an entirely new view onto the Civil War, slavery, and its aftermath. A momentous national event, the riot is also remarkable for being "one of the best-documented episodes of the American nineteenth century." Yet Ash is the first to mine the sources available to full effect. Bringing postwar Memphis, Tennessee to vivid life, he takes us among newly arrived Yankees, former Rebels, boisterous Irish immigrants, and striving freed people, and shows how Americans of the period worked, prayed, expressed their politics, and imagined the future. And how they died: Ash's harrowing and profoundly moving present-tense narration of the riot has the immediacy of the best journalism.

Told with nuance, grace, and a quiet moral passion, A Massacre in Memphis is Civil War-era history like no other.

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About the author

Stephen V. Ash is a professor emeritus of history at the University of Tennessee. He is the author of Firebrand of Liberty, A Year in the South, and other books on the Civil War era. He lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Hill and Wang
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Published on
Oct 15, 2013
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9780809067985
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)
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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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Hailed by Toni Morrison as “required reading,” a bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by “the single best writer on the subject of race in the United States” (The New York Observer)

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER | NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER | NAACP IMAGE AWARD WINNER | PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST | NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST | NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • O: The Oprah Magazine • The Washington Post • People • Entertainment Weekly • Vogue • Los Angeles Times • San Francisco Chronicle • Chicago Tribune • New York • Newsday • Library Journal • Publishers Weekly

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?

Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.

Praise for Between the World and Me

“Powerful . . . a searing meditation on what it means to be black in America today.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“Eloquent . . . in the tradition of James Baldwin with echoes of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man . . . an autobiography of the black body in America.”—The Boston Globe

“Brilliant . . . [Coates] is firing on all cylinders.”—The Washington Post

“Urgent, lyrical, and devastating . . . a new classic of our time.”—Vogue

“A crucial book during this moment of generational awakening.”—The New Yorker

“Titanic and timely . . . essential reading.”—Entertainment Weekly
Oprah's Book Club Summer 2018 Selection

A powerful, revealing story of hope, love, justice, and the power of reading by a man who spent thirty years on death row for a crime he didn't commit.

“An amazing and heartwarming story, it restores our faith in the inherent goodness of humanity.”
—Archbishop Desmond Tutu

In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder in Alabama. Stunned, confused, and only twenty–nine years old, Hinton knew that it was a case of mistaken identity and believed that the truth would prove his innocence and ultimately set him free.

But with no money and a different system of justice for a poor black man in the South, Hinton was sentenced to death by electrocution. He spent his first three years on Death Row at Holman State Prison in agonizing silence—full of despair and anger toward all those who had sent an innocent man to his death. But as Hinton realized and accepted his fate, he resolved not only to survive, but find a way to live on Death Row. For the next twenty–seven years he was a beacon—transforming not only his own spirit, but those of his fellow inmates, fifty–four of whom were executed mere feet from his cell. With the help of civil rights attorney and bestselling author of Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson, Hinton won his release in 2015.

With a foreword by Stevenson, The Sun Does Shine is an extraordinary testament to the power of hope sustained through the darkest times. Destined to be a classic memoir of wrongful imprisonment and freedom won, Hinton’s memoir tells his dramatic thirty–year journey and shows how you can take away a man’s freedom, but you can’t take away his imagination, humor, or joy.

"Readers will find Brownlow unique, above all, but as entertaining as he is sometimes thrillingly loathsome, full of great energy and rhetorical skill and rambunctiousness in the tradition of the tall tale vernacular writers of the time." -- David Madden, Director of the United States Civil War Center
East Tennessee newspaper editor and Methodist preacher William G. "Parson" Brownlow, a man of fervent principles and combative temperament, gained fame during the secession crisis as a staunch, outspoken southern unionist. Unlike most southern unionists, however, Brownlow refused to renounce his loyalty to the Union after the Civil War broke out. He continued to write editorial tirades against the Confederacy until forcibly silenced by southern authorities. Arrested, jailed, and ultimately banished to the North, Brownlow continued his war of words against the Confederacy through speaking tours and through the publication in 1862 of Sketches of the Rise, Progress, and Decline of Secession; with a Narrative of Personal Adventures Among the Rebels -- a best-selling but ill-organized hodgepodge of his editorials, speeches, letters, and commentary. Secessionists and Other Scoundrels, a collection of selected excerpts from Brownlow's original, offers an accessible and powerful explication of the parson's unionism and a moving narrative of his travails under Confederate rule, without sacrificing the vitriolic prose and scathing wit for which he was celebrated -- and denounced.
In these pages the inimitable parson is at his best. By turns sarcastic, angry, high-minded, informative, compassionate, and droll, he forthrightly proclaims his convictions and excoriates his foes. Every sentence exemplifies the motto that adorned the masthead of his newspaper, the Knoxville Whig: "Cry aloud and spare not." In an informative introduction, editor Stephen V. Ash places the excerpts in context by sketching Brownlow's career, summarizing his historical significance, and discussing the history of the book itself. Civil War scholars and enthusiasts will welcome Secessionists and Other Scoundrels as an exciting and entertaining opportunity to be reintroduced to one of the era's most colorful and controversial characters.
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