The little-known true story of freed slave George Dinning and Colonel Bennett H. Young, a Confederate war hero, who in 1899 took on a Kentucky mob in court after Dinning was beaten for defending his farm against whites.
... tells an amazing, compelling true story that was long lost to history — but that could not be more timely ... Montgomery embeds his story in rich historical background, but he lends it immediacy with extensive use of trial transcripts and newspaper accounts.
... riveting details and context ... Montgomery does more than resurrect this old story; he digs deep into trial testimony, newspaper records and archives and weaves a richly textured and dramatic story that underscores a truth of the Jim Crow era — that Black people faced oppression with great courage and resilience, and that their fearlessness and moral rectitude made even unreconstructed apologists for an unjust system bend.
A nuanced exploration of the horrors Southern racism inflicted on Black citizens, as well as the role complicated figures like Young, who fought for the Confederacy, then became a champion for the rights of Black people, played. Blending primary source material with compelling prose, Montgomery brings to light an important turning point in a grim chapter in American history.