Devil in the Grove is the dramatic and deeply disturbing account of one of the least known, but most important, Jim Crow criminal cases of the 20th century ... This book provides...an indelible image of 'Lawyer Marshall' to go along with the better known image of 'Supreme Court Justice Marshall' ... The story is both a fascinating crime narrative and an exceedingly well-documented history ... While the Russian-novel-like narrative is filled with a bewildering array of characters and incidents, many told in difficult-to-unravel flashbacks and sidetracks, slowly working your way through the book is well worth the effort ... This terrifying and indelible account of Marshall’s battle against Jim Crow should be read by everyone interested in the history of civil rights in the United States
Devil is a compelling look at the case that forged Thurgood Marshall’s perception of himself as a crusader for civil rights ... King’s style, at once suspenseful and historically meticulous, advances the facts of the Groveland case while simultaneously weaving together details from Marshall’s professional rise within the NAACP and his home life in Harlem ... the author is at his best when describing the complicated machinations working, to opposite ends, in the citrus groves of Groveland and the NAACP’s chaotic Fifth Avenue offices.
Author Gilbert King's new book Devil in the Grove...is the definitive biography of the young Marshall before he came to nationwide prominence ... Devil in the Grove stands out for its outstanding research and the skill of its composition, which permits the book to function as a biography of the young Marshall and reflect his early civil rights work, while at the same time cutting back to the events in Lake County and making it read like a crime thriller.
With rich detail and drawing upon never-before-seen material from the FBI archives, Gilbert King ... [writes] Marshall...as a crusader, deeply committed to equal opportunity for blacks ... With a cast of characters that seem to come straight out of the pages of an Erskine Caldwell novel...Devil in the Grove is an engrossing chronicle of a little-heard story from the pre-Civil Rights era.
King draws on court documents and FBI archives to offer a compelling chronicle of the accusation, which led to a paroxysm of violence against the black community in Groveland, reminiscent of the destruction of Rosewood, in 1923; brutal beatings that led to forced confessions; and the dramatic trial.
A thoroughgoing study ... King traces the pernicious tentacles of bigotry and expertly depicts the role of the press, the cast of characters and the entire contextual story of civil-rights law and the NAACP. Deeply researched and superbly composed.
The story’s drama and pathos make it a page-turner, but King’s attention to detail, fresh material, and evenhanded treatment of the villains make it a worthy contribution to the history of the period, while offering valuable insight into Marshall’s work and life.