... covers only 261 pages but is a sprawling book nonetheless ... If, as Dray suggests, the outrage at Port Jervis helped spark the anti-lynching crusade of leaders like Ida B Wells or T Thomas Fortune, it failed, and fails still, to occasion anything close to the 'reckoning' cited in his subtitle ... For enlarging our understanding of America’s enduring enthrallment with the violence, guns and control of white supremacy, A Lynching at Port Jervis is superlative ... Am I wrong to find Dray’s account of such developments unsatisfying, for its lack of answers? Perhaps there is no answer to race hate, except for the one prescribed by A Lynching at Port Jervis. Investigate, reflect and resolve.
... stirring ... Mr. Dray’s account of the Port Jervis incident merits strong praise for its comprehensiveness and clarity. Mr. Dray is a skilled archival sleuth. But even the most scrupulous research yields few answers when directed toward lynchings of the Jim Crow era ... The shattering impact of racism. Mob violence for political ends. Obfuscation in the face of criminal charges. Philip Dray reminds us how deeply ingrained these phenomena are in American history.
Dray is an excellent and conscientious storyteller, taking care to alert us when the historical record is spotty or ambiguous while still offering vivid specifics wherever he can ... Dray seems to sense that the story he has written remains unfinished; what happened in Buffalo earlier this month suggests that a terrible legacy from more than a century before lingers still.