Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Arc Of Justice by Kevin Boyle

Race in America keeps raising its head and this book gives you some good background into why that is the case.  It centers on a famous trial in the 1920's involving a black doctor (Dr. Sweet) who bought a home in Detroit in a neighborhood who's occupants were all white.  A mob formed in front of the house, the occupants inside the house fired on the crowd and killed a man.  All the occupants were then tried for murder.

The newly-formed NAACP was looking for an incident that could move the deteriorating race relations in America towards greater justice for blacks and decided to put most of its resources behind winning an acquittal for the home owners.  They hired Clarence Darrow, among others, to take the case and it became a headline-making event.

The story itself is interesting but the book reads almost as if there were two authors.  In the first 100 pages or so, Boyle tells the same story repeatedly and speculates way too many times as to what Dr. Sweet must have been thinking or feeling at a particular time.  Skim that part.  Once past that, the story focuses on the history of the KKK, the NAACP, Clarence Darrow, the major trials of the era, and culminates in a good depiction of the trials that resulted from the incident.  All of that was interesting and well told.

This is a worthwhile read, if for no other reason than to better understand forces that are still with us today to varying degrees throughout the country.  Those forces are having an impact on current laws and practices, even as we believe the past is the past and no longer relevant.  It is.

1 comment:

Becky said...

Great write-up! Even though I might get annoyed in the first 100 pages, I think I'll check this out!