In 1913, 13-year-old Mary Phagan was found brutally murdered in the basement of the Atlanta pencil factory where she worked. The factory manager, a college-educated Jew named Leo Frank, was arrested, tried, and convicted in a trial that seized national headlines. When the governor commuted his death sentence, Frank was kidnapped and lynched by a group of prominent local citizens.
Steve Oney' s acclaimed account re-creates the entire story for the first time, from the police investigations to the gripping trial to the brutal lynching and its aftermath. Oney vividly renders Atlanta, a city enjoying newfound prosperity a half-century after the Civil War, but still rife with barely hidden prejudices and resentments. He introduces a Dickensian pageant of characters, including zealous policemen, intrepid reporters, Frank' s martyred wife, and a fiery populist who manipulated local anger at Northern newspapers that pushed for Frank' s exoneration. Combining investigative journalism and sweeping social history, this is the definitive account of one of American history' s most repellent and most fascinating moments.
"Brilliant. . . . Ninety years later, the tale of murder and revenge in Georgia still has the power to fascinate. . . . Intense, suspenseful." --The Washington Post Book World
"A major achievement . . . A fine work of history." -Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Compelling and relentlessly preoccupying. . . . Oney dapples his volume with vibrant, multihued street scenes and thumbnail portraits. You can almost hear the squealing brakes and clanging bells of the trolley cars outside the courtroom." -The Houston Chronicle
"Invites comparison to Norman Mailer's Executioner's Song. The book packs a wallop at many levels, from the mythic Southern characters to the violent infrastructure of our cultural memory." -The New York Times
"A grim and teeming ghost story. . . . A monumental folk parable of innocent suffering and a blind, brutal urge for retribution that passes finally into the simple, stark awe and pity of tragedy." -The New York Review of Books