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Beneath a Ruthless Sun : A True Story of Violence, Race, and Justice Lost and Found
by Gilbert King


Overview - "Compelling, insightful and important, Beneath a Ruthless Sun exposes the corruption of racial bigotry and animus that shadows a community, a state and a nation. A fascinating examination of an injustice story all too familiar and still largely ignored, an engaging and essential read." --Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy

From the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller Devil in the Grove , the gripping true story of a small town with a big secret.  Read more...


 
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More About Beneath a Ruthless Sun by Gilbert King
 
 
 
Overview
"Compelling, insightful and important, Beneath a Ruthless Sun exposes the corruption of racial bigotry and animus that shadows a community, a state and a nation. A fascinating examination of an injustice story all too familiar and still largely ignored, an engaging and essential read." --Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy

From the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller Devil in the Grove, the gripping true story of a small town with a big secret.

In December 1957, the wife of a Florida citrus baron is raped in her home while her husband is away. She claims a "husky Negro" did it, and the sheriff, the infamous racist Willis McCall, does not hesitate to round up a herd of suspects. But within days, McCall turns his sights on Jesse Daniels, a gentle, mentally impaired white nineteen-year-old. Soon Jesse is railroaded up to the state hospital for the insane, and locked away without trial.
But crusading journalist Mabel Norris Reese cannot stop fretting over the case and its baffling outcome. Who was protecting whom, or what? She pursues the story for years, chasing down leads, hitting dead ends, winning unlikely allies. Bit by bit, the unspeakable truths behind a conspiracy that shocked a community into silence begin to surface.

Beneath a Ruthless Sun tells a powerful, page-turning story rooted in the fears that rippled through the South as integration began to take hold, sparking a surge of virulent racism that savaged the vulnerable, debased the powerful, and roils our own times still.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780399183386
  • ISBN-10: 0399183388
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books
  • Publish Date: April 2018
  • Page Count: 432
  • Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds


Related Categories

Books > History > United States - State & Local - South (AL,AR,FL,GA,KY,LA,MS,
Books > Social Science > Discrimination & Racism
Books > True Crime > General

 
BookPage Reviews

The corruption of Lake County

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gilbert King returns to Lake County, Florida, in Beneath a Ruthless Sun, a tense and stunning true-crime read. As in Devil in the Grove, his previous exposé of the corruption and racial injustice carried out by the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, King’s exhaustive reporting details the frightening chokehold white supremacists had over a Florida agricultural town in the very recent past.

In Devil in the Grove, King detailed the perversion of justice in the case of four young black men falsely accused of raping a white woman in 1949. The “devil” in that book was Sheriff Willis McCall, who used violence, intimidation, false evidence and murder to frame the so-called “Groveland Four.” King’s painstaking research into that case opened his eyes to a different case in 1957, when a white woman stated that she was raped by a black man. This prompted more brutal racial profiling by McCall’s office. However, the rape was ultimately pinned on Jesse Daniels, a white, mentally disabled 19-year-old. Daniels, known as “the boy on the bike,” was taken from his mother’s house and sent to the state’s notorious mental institution for 14 long years while his case was appealed. Crusading journalist Mabel Norris Reese emerges as one of the heroes of this story, a woman who braved violent intimidation from Sheriff McCall and his cohort to report on the story.

In Beneath a Ruthless Sun, King picks up where Reese left off, brilliantly investigating the deep-seated corruption in Lake County. His book’s taut focus on a single case also shines a light onto larger issues of racial profiling, police corruption and the condition of Florida’s mental institutions.

 

This article was originally published in the May 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews