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Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America [With Headphones]

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2007

    Should be required reading in school

    This is an incredible book - not just because of the intensive research or the personal stories, but because this all happened here in the US. It's a potent reminder that this country has a long way to go.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer


    Regrettably, there is a great deal in our country's history of which we are now ashamed. Surely the years between 1874 and the 1920s in America saw some of the most deplorable events. During that period of time racial cleansing took place over a wide geographical area. This was cruel, senseless and more to our disgrace these actions were condoned at the time and glossed over today. Author Jaspin is twice a Pulitzer Prize winner, and is a reporter for Cox Newspapers. Years of prodigious research were poured into his book which presents clear evidence of what took place. Yet we hear of what was an apparent whitewash by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 'Editors ignored clear conflicts of interest while editing the racial cleansing series. Procedures designed to protect the integrity of the reporting process were dispensed with. And finally the head of the company's newspaper division overrode the judgment of editors in Austin and Washington and ordered that a different term be substituted for 'racial cleansings.' It is a cautionary tale about the lingering shame that trumps honest discussion of the full history of America's racial cleansings.' How sad that racial cleansing did occur - sadder yet that some will not acknowledge our misdeeds. The apt title for Jaspin's book comes from the pen of Zora Neale Hurston: 'Ah done died in grief and been buried in de bitter waters, and Ah done rose agin from de dead lak Lazarus. ' For those who heard 'Leave now, or die!' their lives were overturned in mere hours as they fled carrying what possessions they could. Those were the lucky ones - countless others were killed, their homes burned as blacks were driven from entire counties. Thus, even today some of these areas are still 'lily-white.' According to the courts blacks were not considered citizens. Thus, it was quite literally leave or die. Jaspin bases his information on countless interviews, census records, and archives. It is a tragic story but a true one. Actor Don Leslie offers an accomplished reading of Buried in the Bitter Waters, clearly stating facts and movingly relating the words of those interviewed. Highly recommended. - Gail Cooke

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