Devil in the Grove

Devil in the Grove

Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of A New America

Book - 2012
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Baker & Taylor
Chronicles a little-known court case in which Thurgood Marshall successfully saved a black citrus worker from the electric chair after the worker was accused of raping a white woman with three other black men.


Devil in the Grove, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction, is a gripping true story of racism, murder, rape, and the law. It brings to light one of the most dramatic court cases in American history, and offers a rare and revealing portrait of Thurgood Marshall that the world has never seen before.

As Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns did for the story of America’s black migration, Gilbert King’s Devil in the Grove does for this great untold story of American legal history, a dangerous and uncertain case from the days immediately before Brown v. Board of Education in which the young civil rights attorney Marshall risked his life to defend a boy slated for the electric chair—saving him, against all odds, from being sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit.

& Taylor

Chronicles a little-known court case in which Thurgood Marshall successfully saved a black citrus worker from the electric chair after the worker was accused of raping a while woman with three other black men. 40,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Harper, [2012]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2012
ISBN: 9780061792267
Branch Call Number: 364.1532 King 2012
Characteristics: x, 434 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


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Jul 05, 2017

King's Devil in the Grove is an entertaining hybrid that mixes the novelist styles of the true crime and court-room procedural with historical and political analysis and biography. While entertaining the historical and political analysis is a bit underdeveloped and shallow. Gilbert would have us blame a racist and violent sheriff, his pathological deputy and their Klan friends for the murders of the Grove four. But Gilbert's own analysis shows the situation was more complex than that. As an elected official the Sheriff was dependant on his corporate funds to underwrite his successful campaigns. His corporate funders required a cowed and submissive black labour force in their orange groves and other industries. But they did not want them so terrified by the Klan as to flee the county. So the sheriff had to control the Klan at times. Meanwhile, the sheriff, a true paragon of corruption, was at the same time involved in profiting from gambling. This was another angle in the set-up of one of the four black victims. The complexities do not lend themselves to simply blaming the Sheriff and the Klan. Rather there was an overdetermination of conflicting forces involved beyond the control of any single evil character. Different forms of racism, fascism, societal sexual dysfunction, and early modern capitalism were all involved in a truly frightening stew of violence and ignorance. Still the book helps us glimpse the American South as a variety of fascist police state that used the brutally violent ISIS-like KKK as a state sponsored terrorist militia.

Aug 10, 2016

Gripping and horrifying story of Thurgood Marshall's and the NAACP's efforts to save four falsely accused black men in a rape charge as the white-entrenched communities help incite and participate in violence, death and danger against those who would try to break the accepted way of life.

Jul 27, 2016

Great book about Thurgood Marshall and the beginnings of the fight for Civil Rights in this country. The story centers on a murder trial in Central Florida but speaks to the body of work done by Marshall and the NAACP in those early years. Should be read by all and sadly still rings true about our country today.

Nov 30, 2014

Excellent account of the trauma suffered by many during the civil rights struggle, and the efforts to address the inequalities of the justice system.


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