Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Spies of Mississippi (2010)

Subtitled "The True Story of the Spy Network the Tried to Destroy the Civil Rights Movement" I thought I had found a really interesting nonfiction book. Unfortunately, this one by Rick Bowers misses by a mile.

I'm not sure why this book misses but I found my mind wandering while reading and I frequently had to back up and read a section over. This exerpt is from a chapter about Clyde Kennard, a young black man who was trying to enter all-white Mississippi Southern College. He was framed for a burglary committed by a young white man named Johnny Lee Roberts.

Police searched Kennard's farm and came back with a couple of empty feed bags. Kennard was charged as an accomplice to burglary -- a felony. On the witness stand, Roberts gave a meandering, hard-to-follow account of the robbery that confused even the district attorney. Still, it took an all-white jury only ten minutes to hand down guilty verdicts. Roberts got a suspended sentence, and the co-op rehired him. Kennard, by contrast, was sentenced to the maximum penalty -- seven years of hard labor at the notorious Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.

I can only hear Sgt. Friday of the LAPD narrating this in his "just the facts, ma'am" voice. I don't even think this book would be good for reference since there aren't that many facts or quotes or primary source references. What a shame!

I have to admit that I do not, as a whole, appreciate books about history so I can't really recommend this one.

My rating for this book: ++1/2

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