The Barn: The Secret History of a Murder in Mississippi

The Barn: The Secret History of a Murder in Mississippi

by Wright Thompson
The Barn: The Secret History of a Murder in Mississippi

The Barn: The Secret History of a Murder in Mississippi

by Wright Thompson


    Qualifies for Free Shipping
    Available for Pre-Order. This item will be released on September 24, 2024

    Store Pickup available after publication date.

Related collections and offers


The Barn is the most brutal, layered and absolutely beautiful book about Mississippi, and really how the world conspired with the best and worst parts of Mississippi, I will ever read…Reporting and reckoning can get no better, or more important, than this.”
 —Kiese Laymon, author of Long Division and Heavy: An American Memoir

“An incredible history of a crime that changed America.” —John Grisham

"With integrity, and soul, Thompson unearths the terrible how and why, carrying us back and forth through time, deep in Mississippi—baring, sweat, soil, and heart all the way through.” —Imani Perry

A shocking and revelatory account of the murder of Emmett Till that lays bare how forces from around the world converged on the Mississippi Delta in the long lead-up to the crime, and how the truth was erased for so long

Wright Thompson’s family farm in Mississippi is 23 miles from the site of one of the most notorious and consequential killings in American history, yet he had to leave the state for college before he learned the first thing about it. To this day, fundamental truths about the crime are widely unknown, including where it took place and how many people were involved. This is no accident: the cover-up began at once, and it is ongoing. 

In August 1955, two men, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, were charged with the torture and murder of the 14-year-old Emmett Till in Money, Mississippi. After their inevitable acquittal in a mockery of justice, they gave a false confession to a journalist, which was misleading about where the long night of hell took place and who was involved. In fact, Wright Thompson reveals, at least eight people can be placed at the scene, which was inside the barn of one of the killers, on a plot of land within the six-square-mile grid whose official name is Township 22 North, Range 4 West, Section 2, West Half, fabled in the Delta of myth as the birthplace of the blues on nearby Dockery Plantation.

Even in the context of the racist caste regime of the time, the four-hour torture and murder of a Black boy barely in his teens for whistling at a young white woman was acutely depraved; Till’s mother Mamie Till-Mobley’s decision to keep the casket open seared the crime indelibly into American consciousness. Wright Thompson has a deep understanding of this story—the world of the families of both Emmett Till and his killers, and all the forces that aligned to place them together on that spot on the map. As he shows, the full horror of the crime was its inevitability, and how much about it we still need to understand. Ultimately this is a story about property, and money, and power, and white supremacy. It implicates all of us. In The Barn, Thompson brings to life the small group of dedicated people who have been engaged in the hard, fearful business of bringing the truth to light. Putting the killing floor of the barn on the map of Township 22 North, Range 4 West, Section 2, West Half, and the Delta, and America, is a way of mapping the road this country must travel if we are to heal our oldest, deepest wound.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593299821
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/24/2024
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 450
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.12(d)

About the Author

Wright Thompson is a senior writer for ESPN and the bestselling author of Pappyland and The Cost of These Dreams. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi with his family.
From the B&N Reads Blog

Customer Reviews