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

Stephen V. Ash. Hill and Wang, $27 (269p) ISBN 978-0-80906-797-8
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In the tumultuous post-Civil War period, there were a number of reprisals by former Confederates and their sympathizers against African-Americans, but none were as violent or maddening as Memphis, Tenn.’s horrific race riot in May 1866. Ash, a professor emeritus of history at the University of Tennessee, explains the powerful rebel resistance’s growth after the city fell to the Yankees in 1862, and the rebels’ use of Memphis’s largely Irish police force and white working poor to assault freed blacks in daily life. In a documentary-style approach, Ash lays bare the racial demons of committed secessionists emboldened by fear and hate, with the tension erupting in a three-day white siege of the nearby black communities. Derived from testimonies collected in the aftermath by the Freedmen’s Bureau, the U.S. Army, and a special Congressional committee, this detailed account of the lengthy riot and its reverberations surges at the reader; the murder and mayhem claimed over 40 black lives, with dozens wounded. For those who wish to understand the roots of America’s racial issues, Ash’s captivating and thoughtful book offers explanations and raises many new questions. Agent: David Miller and Lisa Adams, Garamond Agency. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/05/2013
Release date: 10/15/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-8090-6798-5
Paperback - 269 pages - 978-0-8090-6830-2
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