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The Burning


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About the Author

Tim Madigan is an award-winning writer with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram who in both 1996 and 1997 was named Texas Reporter of the Year in the state's most prestigious journalism competition. He is the author of See No Evil: Blind Devotion and Bloodshed in David Koresh's Holy War


In 1921 in Tulsa, Okla., hundreds of black residents of the prosperous Greenwood community were massacred by a mob of white townspeople. Madigan, a reporter with the Fort Worth Star Telegram, deftly locates the carnage in its proper political and cultural setting. Unlike previous accounts, this one shows how the riot touched individual lives by creating full-scale portraits of black and white citizens of oil-rich Tulsa. He fashions absorbing narratives from his interviews with survivors and from information uncovered by the 1997 Tulsa Race Riot Commission. Individual voices combine to relate the tragic chain of events, the madness and atmosphere of hate that compelled the white mob to torch almost every building in Greenwood. The earnest Sheriff McCullough worried about vigilantes running amok; the racist publisher Richard Lloyd Jones sought to sell newspapers by appealing to white bias; the defiant ex-slave Townsend Jackson refused to comply with Jim Crow laws; and the hapless Dick Rowland's arrest for accidentally bumping into a white girl triggers the slaughter. Madigan's skill at description, dialogue and pacing keeps the reader's interest at peak levels, and he does not gloss over brutal scenes of murder, arson and torture. Many other accounts have ignored the strong resistance of many Greenwood blacks against white marauders. Madigan draws implicit connections between one of the bloodiest racial atrocities in U.S. history and today's racial climate by concluding his timely history lesson with an update of the Tulsa commission findings and the city's move toward healing and reconciliation. 16 pages b&w photos not seen by PW. (Nov.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Journalist Madigan (See No Evil: Blind Devotion and Bloodshed in David Koresh's Holy War) here tackles one of America's worst race riots, chronicling the shocking events of May 31 and June 1, 1921 when a white mob numbering in the thousands obliterated the African American community of Greenwood, OK, near Tulsa. Race riots and tensions were very common after World War I, but what makes the Greenwood incident unique was the unheard-of organization of the mob and the completeness of the destruction (35 city blocks systematically burned and destroyed along with hundreds of casualties). Though it is arguably America's worst race riot, surprisingly little has been written about it in the mainstream press. For this work, Madigan relied on taped interviews of survivors and witnesses, newspaper accounts, scholarly papers and theses, and interviews with the descendants of survivors. What results is a highly readable account of the circumstances and history surrounding the event and its aftermath. Truly an eye-opening book, this is essential reading for anyone struggling to understand race relations in America. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries. Robert Flatley, Frostburg State Univ., MD Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"Madigan somehow manages to tell the story of what happened with grace, purity and haunting starkness." --Buzz Bissinger"A powerful book, a harrowing case study made all the more so by Madigan's skillful, clear-eyed telling of it." --Adam Nossiter, The New York Times Book Review"A sobering, frightening account of what happens when that foul beast, racism, breaks its fragile leash."--Kirkus, starred review"Madigan's skill at description, dialogue and pacing keeps the reader's interest at peak levels."--Publishers Weekly"Madigan provides a riveting account of one of the most shameful episodes in the troubled history of race relations in the U.S. This cultural and sociological dissection of a twentieth-century tragedy makes difficult but compelling reading."--Booklist"The story of Greenwood is written in such chilling detail and clarity that one can almost smell the smoke and hear the cries. This is historical reporting at its best."--Larry Cox, Arizona Daily Star"The Burning is a bold and worthwhile beginning. With its richness of horrifying detail, the book compels our attention, restoring the hateful episode's ghastly but necessary claim on the public conscience."--Morning Star-Telegram"Mr. Madigan spins a moving story...a compelling work that brings its characters to life."--Dallas Morning News

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