A compelling account of how the last battle of the Civil War came to be fought....precise and evocative.
San Jose Mercury News
A balanced narrative filled with fresh and important details.
The Wilson Quarterly
A fascinating contribution to civil rights history.
American Library Association Booklist
One of the best narratives to chronicle the epic contest between African-Americans bent on freedom and their most fanatic opponents.
I was creating images then that were designed for forty years in the future.
When James Meredith was about 12 years old, he had a "young boy's dream of attending the football powerhouse school," the University of Mississippi. But when he became the first black student to register at "Ole Miss" in 1962, a "Byzantine legal struggle" ensued, which Doyle chronicles along with the military maneuvers by U.S. Deputy Marshals and others sent to contain the revolt by radical segregationists and hundreds of student and civilian "volunteers." The episode which Time magazine called the "greatest Constitutional crisis since the Civil War" collapsed into complete mayhem and violence. Doyle (Inside the Oval Office), cowriter and coproducer of the A&E documentary The Secret White House Tapes, makes extensive use of the Kennedy tapes as well as interviews with over 500 eyewitnesses and participants. Unfortunately, his indiscriminate accumulation of detail (the governor's wife wore pearl-frame glasses; the average height of the 503rd Military Police Battalion is 5'10") mars the book. The sketches of Civil War battles (provided by way of analogy to the Mississippi crisis) and of assorted local, state and federal troop movements fail to cohere. Some of Doyle's facts that World War II paratroopers served in "Normandy, Holland, Belgium, Sicily, Italy and North Africa"; references to JFK's "overlapping extramarital affairs and fleeting sexual experiences"; the price tag on Meredith's graduation suit ($85) bring neither depth nor diversion to this unimaginative text. Agent, Mel Berger/William Morris. (Sept. 18) Forecast: Military buffs may relish the logistical detail, but the dust jacket comparison to Black Hawk Down is unwarranted, since this account is unlikely to break out of itsniche. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Writer and documentary producer Doyle depicts the tumultuous events surrounding James Meredith's admission to the racially segregated University of Mississippi at Oxford in 1962. Descriptions of the dramatic and violent confrontation appear in virtually every recent book and film covering the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi. Doyle, however, shows Oxford in 1962 more as a battlefield than as one of many centers of social change. His is a story of heroes and villains, told as if he were describing a military invasion which, Doyle tells us, this was. To quell the rebellion against integration, President Kennedy not only sent federal marshals but also 30,000 combat soldiers. While Doyle's description is dramatic, it fails to provide an adequate context for what occurred before and after the focal events, unlike Nadine Cohodas's excellent The Band Played Dixie: Race and the Liberal Conscience at Old Miss (Free Pr., 1997). More disappointing is Doyle's inadequate closing, particularly given the energy with which he has told the narrative. He ends with a string of weak contradictions, providing very little to guide the reader through them. For large public libraries. Charles K. Piehl, Minnesota State Univ., Mankato Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
An account of the conflict between federal forces and Governor Ross Barnett's state police, along with thousands of civilians, over the racial integration of the all-white University of Mississippi in 1962. Doyle, award-winning documentary producer and writer (Inside the Oval Office, 1999, etc.), resurrects the slide toward civil war in the fall of 1962 as Mississippi Governor Barnett and his state police troopers took a highly publicized stand against President Kennedy's order to integrate the University of Mississippi. He introduces readers to young James Meredith, a US Army veteran and dedicated civil-rights activist, whose pursuit of entrance at the segregated university resulted in a federal court order requiring its racial integration. Doyle argues that Meredith's insistence on attending the university in the face of militant state opposition and personal death threats forced Barnett and Kennedy to enter into backroom negotiations that would allow the governor to meet federal integration requirements and still save face. But each time federal marshals escorted Meredith to Oxford, Mississippi, to register for classes, Barnett broke his trust with the president, defying him with a show of force. Doyle shows how, as this pattern repeated itself, both sides caused southern anxiety to escalate to the point of hysteria. As federal authorities finally succeeded in moving Meredith into the university dorms, thousands of armed southerners converged on the campus to confront the US marshals responsible for the student's safety. From the moment the mob fired the first shots at US marshals, Doyle shows how an American college campus turned into a full-scale battlefield. His vivid depiction ofthe terror and chaos that expanded across the city suggests that the our Civil War finally ended only as US National Guard and Army Airborne troops reestablished order in Oxford, Mississippi, in 1962. Doyle's exhaustive research and intense narrative should reach beyond the target audience of those who pursue civil rights and military issues.