... a valuable addition to the historical record of Alabama’s role as the battleground state of the civil rights revolution ... With this book, Jones invites us — indeed, challenges us — to look anew at the central paradox of the case ... Jones’s account is evenhanded to a fault: He fails to emphasize the villainous role of Hoover as the chief reason that Robert 'Dynamite Bob' Chambliss and his two thuggish accomplices, Tommy Blanton and Bobby Frank Cherry, were all old men before Baxley and Jones were able to put them behind bars in a series of three dramatic trials conducted in 1977, 2001 and 2002 ... Jones’s account of the trials of Bobby Cherry and Tommy Blanton add important details to the agonizing story. His account of Klan infiltration of the Birmingham Police Department (a 'snake pit') is ruthlessly candid. He is both accurate and generous in telling how Eddy and the F.B.I. field agents helped him reconstruct the building of the bomb and its placement on the outer wall of the women’s restroom at the church ... Simply stated, using piecemeal evidence that a dishonest F.B.I. director wanted to keep out of court, Bill Baxley and Doug Jones put together a convincing case that proved beyond reasonable doubt that Alabama juries convicted the right men for murder.
Throughout the book, [Jones] reiterates the importance of justice—for the girls’ families, certainly, but also for all people affected by this act of terrorism. Bending Toward Justice is a vivid journey toward that understanding. As Jones and co-author Greg Truman lay out the details of these pivotal civil rights cases, they also examine how much the country has learned—and how much it still has to grow.
Less a history than an account of [Jones'] own tortured journey toward racial awareness. We could happily do without self-absorbed reflections ... Yet Jones, with journalist Truman, manages a deeply affecting portrait of the devastation wrought by the 16th Street Church bombing and the enduring blight and bitterness it left in the black community ... A decent account of a key moment in the antisegregation movement told primarily from the white perspective.
The bulk of this compelling account focuses on the extraordinary trial and 2001 conviction ... A useful firsthand account of a series of civil rights landmarks, with some additional analysis of our current political climate.