Customer Reviews for

Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

18 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

I thought this book was going to too dark and violent for my tas

I thought this book was going to too dark and violent for my tastes, but I was wrong. This book is masterful in the way the author changes pace, alternating between history and heartstopping drama. At turns, King describes with great clarity the citrus economy, or the...
I thought this book was going to too dark and violent for my tastes, but I was wrong. This book is masterful in the way the author changes pace, alternating between history and heartstopping drama. At turns, King describes with great clarity the citrus economy, or the corruption in Florida politics that set the state for a story like Groveland. Other times, he takes great care to deliver the shocking plot twists, usually the result of Sheriff Willis McCall's racism. But the book presents a balanced look at the characters who are caught in "the Dawn of a New America" where the times are changing in Florida. That's what's so amazing about this story. Thurgood Marshall was right at the center of these changes not just in Florida, but across the country. And it all plays out in the shadowy land the author calls, south of the South.

Devil in the Grove is one of the best books I've read in a long, long time. Part of why I liked it so much is it brings a bit of glory and recognition to the lawyers in this story from the NAACP, black and white, who put their lives on the line. Yes, their lives were literally on the line. One was even killed by the KKK at the start of the rape trial! I have to say that despite the heavy subject, I laughed several times while reading this book. Thurgood Marshall had a wonderful sense of humor on display and the trial is such a farce, with the prosecutor making a mockery of every defense witness, that it was hard not to bust out laughing, thinking that some of these things really happened in an American courtroom in the 20th century. Highly recommended.

posted by SarahTurn on March 24, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

This book is very chilling and highly scary i would not recommen

This book is very chilling and highly scary i would not recommended this book to anyone but horror book readers.

posted by KRSOneMB on October 5, 2013

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  • Posted March 24, 2012

    I thought this book was going to too dark and violent for my tas

    I thought this book was going to too dark and violent for my tastes, but I was wrong. This book is masterful in the way the author changes pace, alternating between history and heartstopping drama. At turns, King describes with great clarity the citrus economy, or the corruption in Florida politics that set the state for a story like Groveland. Other times, he takes great care to deliver the shocking plot twists, usually the result of Sheriff Willis McCall's racism. But the book presents a balanced look at the characters who are caught in "the Dawn of a New America" where the times are changing in Florida. That's what's so amazing about this story. Thurgood Marshall was right at the center of these changes not just in Florida, but across the country. And it all plays out in the shadowy land the author calls, south of the South.

    Devil in the Grove is one of the best books I've read in a long, long time. Part of why I liked it so much is it brings a bit of glory and recognition to the lawyers in this story from the NAACP, black and white, who put their lives on the line. Yes, their lives were literally on the line. One was even killed by the KKK at the start of the rape trial! I have to say that despite the heavy subject, I laughed several times while reading this book. Thurgood Marshall had a wonderful sense of humor on display and the trial is such a farce, with the prosecutor making a mockery of every defense witness, that it was hard not to bust out laughing, thinking that some of these things really happened in an American courtroom in the 20th century. Highly recommended.

    18 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2012

    A must read

    Timely, thoroughly researched, well written and a story that resonates in our time.

    One of the best pieces of contemporary history to come along in a very long time.

    If this is the only book you read this summer, your time will be very well spent.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2012

    Highly Recommend

    I am still reading this book but I am enjoying very much.

    I am an Historian by training and the book exposes what the civil rights situation, at the end of WWII, was like in the South.

    It is a fast paced and very well written book.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 19, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    excellent

    This is a fascinating book about a terrible travesty of justice. It seems to be well researched.
    It didn't know the outcome, and it was difficult to put the book down.
    I knew nothing about Thurgood Marshall except that he was a Supreme Court justice, and it was very interesting to learn about his earlier law career.
    Maybe I shouldn't be, but I was shocked that this occurred during my lifetime (the 1940's and 50's).

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2013

    This book is very chilling and highly scary i would not recommen

    This book is very chilling and highly scary i would not recommended this book to anyone but horror book readers.

    2 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2013

    Highly recommended.

    An intriguing true story; well investigated, well written. This book definitely deserved the Pulitzer prize it got.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2013

    I live in Central Florida, but am a transplant from Wisconsin; t

    I live in Central Florida, but am a transplant from Wisconsin; this book was fantastic. I really believe that the struggle for Civil Rights as it is taught, tends to trivialize or neglect the difficulties that many hero's like Thurgood Marshall and many, many others engaged in. I Highly recommend this book to fellow Civics and US History teachers. The brutality of segregation against blacks and the corrosive effect it had on white society is almost a theological, as well as a Historical dilemma that this book explores.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2012

    Some history we should all know about

    Sometimes it gets into a lot of detail but the detail is necessary for the story. I can't believe we used to (and some still do) have beliefs like this. A real eye opener and the true meaning of courage.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2012

    Enlightening; great read

    The story moves quickly with a nice combination of history, legal and personal points of view. It was clear and provided a new view on the Civil Rights movement.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2012

    Fabulous!

    This book is brilliantly written; it reads like a novel, but it actually happened. It's a thorough examination of the early professional years of Thurgood Marshall's career. It was revealing to me how pervasive and virulent the racism in Florida was around 1950, and how small-town justice was meted out by racist, sociopathic local lawmen by means of pistols and shotguns. I sometimes think that racism is still prevalent in the entire United States, but this book shows how egregiously present it was in Florida after WWII. It still exists, but it's just subtler and less murderous.
    I would also recommend this author's previous book, The Execution of Willie (Last name?), which has some of the same tension and excellent narrative.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2012

    Excellent!

    This is a story everyone needs to read! My only complaint is that the dates and order of events (mostly ancillary events rather than the main story line) were confusing, especially for the first half of the book. It is a trite expression that if we don't know our history we are bound to repeat it. But as I read this book I couldn't help but think how applicable that is to the Groveland boys-- all Americans need to know this story so that this kind of injustice will never be tolerated again.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2012

    Gilbert King is to be commended for this accomplishment. His wri

    Gilbert King is to be commended for this accomplishment. His writing style is masterful and his extensive research is exhaustive and thorough. One can only wonder why this case has not been dissected in the past. I continually had to remind myself that this was not a true crime novel but a non-fiction book depicting the worst of the Jim Crow era. Mr. King's remarkable style leaves the reader somewhat breathless in its wake and he is to be commended for offering us a work that will, no doubt, be a classic study of Thurgood Marshall's diligent work, through the courts, to attain equal rights for all Americans.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 22, 2013

    Highly recommended. Difficult to put down!

    This book reveals why Thurgood Marshall will be remember as one of the greatest Supreme Court Justices in our history. A warrior for the equal protection of every citizen of this great country if ours. It reveals some of the horrors of our past and hopefully encourages us to not allow these evils to repeat in our future.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 22, 2013

    Recommended

    Very informative look at the pre-civil rights South and the struggles of some courageous people.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2013

    Excellent Book

    Awarded a well deserved Pulitzer King deftly describes the lawlessness inflicted on the Black Population in post World War 11 Cental Florida by law enforcement itself. The great debt the Civil Rights Movement owes Thurgood Marshall is chronicled in rich detail. Marshall is a giant figure in Twentieth Century America who is not given his due.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2013

    Amazing

    This is a story that will amaze and in some way bring out the best in all

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 24, 2012

    Excellent history.

    This book is gripping, informative, shocking and depressing all at the same time. I am so ashamed of my southern "white" brothers for their hatred and cruelty. The idea that skin color is a valid assessment of a person's humaness is as stupid as the bias that exists either for or against a person because of his/her religion or politics or sexual preferences. I am thrilled that Thurgood Marshall was able to use the judicial system to "educate" and make some progress toward respecting all people. There is still today too much of the "us vs them" divisions in our society. This book helps to bring some prospective to our journey to brotherhood.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2012

    compelling history

    The author takes the reader back to Lake County, Florida 55 to 60 years ago. The stories about Thurgood Marshall in the era before the Supreme Court and even before Brown v. Board of Education are fascinating. A slice of this country's history that many do not fully appreciate. I am sure other authors have covered this history, and I am no authority in the area, but I will say, if this author is making anything up or stretching the truth about the corruption of law enforcement in central Florida to tell a better, more shocking tale, he sure has an effective way of writing with the appearance of credibility.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 26, 2012

    An excellent book about a very troubling part of our shared hist

    An excellent book about a very troubling part of our shared history. Great history and great writing as well. Reminds one of how so much in human history is complex yet connected. Highly recommend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2014

    Notes from a Hoosier Cracker

    Often times a book of this scope is to follow because of the sheer number of characters that have to be included and intoduced to the reader - not so in this case. The author does an excellent job of keeping the story easy to follow. The notes at the end of the book are a true sign of a well researched and thought out delivery of a grim time in U.S history (authors often leave out the all important bibliography these days and I really appreciated seeing all the works cited on these pages). Gilbert King tells this horrific story of hate, ignorance, murder and injustice in a straight forward, almost matter-of-fact way; without being melodramatic or sensationalist the truth is that much more poignant. A truth that however embarrassing to the history of our nation needs to be known and remembered so as never to be repeated...because there might not be a Thurgood Marshall and so many other brave souls willing to dedicate their lives to enlightenment and reform the next time around.

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