Winner of the Southern Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction
This extraordinary account of lynching in America, by acclaimed civil rights historian Philip Dray, shines a clear, bright light on American history’s darkest stain—illuminating its causes, perpetrators, apologists, and victims. Philip Dray also tells the story of the men and women who led the long and difficult fight to expose and eradicate lynching, including Ida B. Wells, James Weldon Johnson, Walter White, and W.E.B. Du Bois. If lynching is emblematic of what is worst about America, their fight may stand for what is best: the commitment to justice and fairness and the conviction that one individual’s sense of right can suffice to defy the gravest of wrongs. This landmark book follows the trajectory of both forces over American history—and makes lynching’s legacy belong to us all.
Philip Dray's At the Hands of Persons Unknown is a powerfully written, admirably perceptive synthesis of the vast literature on lynching. It is the most comprehensive social history of this depressing subject in almost seventy years and should be recognized as a major addition to the bibliography of American race relations.