Feb 14, 2015
Review: One Night in Mississippi
One Night in Mississippi by Craig Shreve
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"One Night in Mississippi" is the story of a young activist named Graden Williams who is brutally murdered in Mississippi during the sixties. After the perpetrators are charged but quickly released, Graden's brother, Warren, drifts aimlessly for decades, estranged from the rest of his family and struggling with the guilt that he feels over his brother's death. But when the U.S. Justice Department begins re-opening similar cases more than forty years later, he dedicates himself to bringing Graden's killers back to justice.
A phoned tip after a television appearance leads him to a remote town in northern Ontario, where he meets Earl Olsen, the only murderer who is still at large, and a man who turns out to be very different from what Warren had expected.
I found this book to be very realistic about the times and circumstances in Mississippi. Even in the 1980's where I grew up in Alabama many of these nightmarish treatments still existed if you were not white. This novel struck a very realistically sad, but accurate nerve. I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book for review purposes.
One Night in Mississippi is told from the perspective of Warren who is black and lost his strong willed brother via murder by a group of white men in 1965. We also hear from the youngest of the men, Earl who was no more than a scared white teen at the time of the murder who was also prejudiced against because of his being a "Yankee". These 2 main characters have been perfectly depicted by the author as they each faced their own guilt and horror that followed them throughout their lives.
The book mentions that good intending northerners came to the south to get the black people encouraged to fight (peaceably) for their rights, having good intentions, but no true grasp of what the dangers they and the black minority were truly in. At that time, the whites ruled the state, people, government, police ... It was a true night mare. I have heard someone say last year (in Mississippi) that they did not understand why so many white people remained quite. If you did not shit up, you'd find yourself hung with the black minority, careers destroyed (& often literally killed along with any black person who was "making a fuss ~ getting out of line".
I had to listen to black jokes in my public high school in the late 1980's, and knew there was nothing I could do other than look at the teacher disapprovingly. One Night in Mississippi brought back memories for me (as a white female growing up in the still prejudice south). I felt for the teen age white boy too because I could also relate to his situation. I can only imagine being black & knowing you can do nothing but hide. Women in the south were expected to shut up & bow down to men (if you oppose you are a trouble maker & without a man backing you, you can / could get very hurt too.
The book was very true to the guilt from both main characters. Of course the story is very sad. The subject is a very sober topic and an ugly time in history that needs remembered, improved still, and not sugar coating events hopefully will inform those who were not there to help prevent such perversions of hamamity from being repeated.
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