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"Squires' . . . grandfather was a sheriff's deputy who carried a gun and a clenched fist, a man whose talk with cronies was full of references to 'sonofabitching judges' and 'goddamn niggers.' He was also, Squires relates, one of the muscle men behind a vicious cabal of power brokers headed by one Boss Crump. . . . That machine involved, for a time, much of Nashville's leading citizenry. It engineered elections, stole votes, organized lynch mobs, ran an illegal gambling empire, and in the 1950s, when it appeared that the traditional Democratic Party was going soft on civil rights, brokered the advent of Republicanism in one corner of the South.
"His richly-textured narrative charts the Nashville machine's rupture with the state's top political boss, Edward Crump of Memphis, and traces the sweeping reforms that shattered rural white control of the state legislature. Squires dramatically reenacts the downfall of Nashville lawyer Tommy Osborne, convicted of jury tampering in 1964 after defending Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa. He follows Nashville's transformation into a crucible of the civil rights movement in this stirring chronicle of the South's coming-of-age."