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Michael Kazin…[Heard] surrounds the legal narrative with a rich and knowing context of historical truths. He describes other, clearly unjust capital trials of black men in the period and several horrific lynchings. He details the friction between the Civil Rights Congress and the much larger National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, whose leaders were suspicious of any defense campaign in which communists had a dominant role. And he sketches the biographies of the local white attorneys who tried to save McGee…On occasion, the lengthy backstories obscure the travails of McGee himself…Still, Heard has produced a book that, in arresting prose, captures a significant slice of the past and a case whose verdict was all but preordained.
—The Washington Post