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Flames after Midnight: Murder, Vengeance, and the Desolation of a Texas Community

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Overview

What happened in Kirven, Texas, in May 1922, has been forgotten by the outside world. It was a co-worker's whispered words, "Kirven is where they burned the [Negroes]," that set Monte Akers to work at discovering the true story behind a young white woman's brutal murder and the burning alive of three black men who were almost certainly innocent of it. This was followed by a month-long reign of terror as white men killed blacks while local authorities concealed the real identity ...

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Overview

What happened in Kirven, Texas, in May 1922, has been forgotten by the outside world. It was a co-worker's whispered words, "Kirven is where they burned the [Negroes]," that set Monte Akers to work at discovering the true story behind a young white woman's brutal murder and the burning alive of three black men who were almost certainly innocent of it. This was followed by a month-long reign of terror as white men killed blacks while local authorities concealed the real identity of the white probable murderers and allowed them to go free.

Writing nonfiction with the skill of a novelist, Akers paints a vivid portrait of a community desolated by race hatred and its own refusal to face hard truths. He sets this tragedy within the story of a region prospering from an oil boom but plagued by lawlessness, and traces the lynching's repercussions down the decades to the present day.

What can the uncovering of yet another travesty do to improve race relations in light of the recent lynching in Jasper, Texas? In the opinion of Akers, "This story is now complete, but its messages can never be. The insanity of racial hatred, or hatred of any kind, the necessity of equal protection and due process of law, the danger of mob mentality, and the unforeseen consequences of deception and cover-up all hang from this tale like fruit ripe for the picking.

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Editorial Reviews

Don Ross
Flames after Midnight vividly captures that culture in all its repugnance, exploring the tenor of the times and delving into the character of the story's central figures. While it cannot by its nature be pleasant to read, it is a well-written and compelling history that in its scope extends beyond Kirven. Akers holds up a mirror so that we see ourselves, in historical retrospect, at our worst.
USA Today
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292704879
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1999
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.05 (w) x 9.04 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Ch. 1 Eula
Ch. 2 Kirven, the County, the Country, and the Kings
Ch. 3 The Instant when Music Shatters Glass
Ch. 4 Sheriff Mayo
Ch. 5 Manhunt
Ch. 6 A "Good Job" in the Early Hours of the Morning
Ch. 7 This Cold World of Care
Ch. 8 Terror
Ch. 9 A Visitor from Waco
Ch. 10 Confirmation
Ch. 11 Doll Rags
Ch. 12 Greater Irony
Ch. 13 A Place in Blackest History
Ch. 14 Burning Questions
Ch. 15 Epilogue: A Notoriety Deeply to be Regretted
Notes
Index
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2001

    Indepth research revealed much

    I learned much from reading Flames After Midnight. What happened were terrible, and it upsets you know the cruel mentality of people. The book revealed a lot and was detailed. Enjoyed the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2004

    Thought-provoking, haunting---utterly absorbing

    This was one of the best books I've ever read, but also one of the most terrible. As a Texan, I've long been interested in learning more about the history of Southern racism, and I've never seen it presented in such an insightful and thought-provoking manner. Another highlight of the book is how Mr. Akers captures--in a very authentic way--the feeling and mood of the time (1920's East Texas). It should be noted, however, that this book is not for the feint of heart. The crimes which were committed in Freestone County, Texas during the last half of 1922 were terrible and will haunt you long after you finish the book. This book was as disturibing as it was utterly absorbing, from page one on. I highly recommend it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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