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Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Eyes of Willie McGee: A Tragedy of Race, Sex, and Secrets in the Jim Crow South

Author:  Alex Heard
Publication Date:  May 2010
Publisher:  Harper
416 pages

Donated By:  Regal-Literary, Inc. 

A gripping saga of race and retribution in the Deep South and a story whose haunting details echo the themes of To Kill a Mockingbird. 

In 1945, Willie McGee, a young African-American man from Laurel, Mississippi, was sentenced to death for allegedly raping Willette Hawkins, a white housewife. At first, McGee's case was barely noticed, covered only in hostile Mississippi newspapers and far-left publications such as the Daily Worker. Then Bella Abzug, a young New York labor lawyer, was hired by the Civil Rights Congress—an aggressive civil rights organization with ties to the Communist Party of the United States—to oversee McGee's defense. Together with William Patterson, the son of a slave and a devout believer in the need for revolutionary change, Abzug and a group of white Mississippi lawyers risked their lives to plead McGee's case. After years of court battles, McGee's supporters flooded President Harry S. Truman and the U.S. Supreme Court with clemency pleas, and famous Americans—including William Faulkner, Albert Einstein, Jessica Mitford, Paul Robeson, Norman Mailer, and Josephine Baker—spoke out on McGee's behalf. 

By the time the case ended in 1951 with McGee's public execution in Mississippi's infamous traveling electric chair, "Free Willie McGee" had become a rallying cry among civil rights activists, progressives, leftists, and Communist Party members. Their movement had succeeded in convincing millions of people worldwide that McGee had been framed and that the real story involved a consensual love affair between him and Mrs. Hawkins—one that she had instigated and controlled. As Heard discovered, this controversial theory is a doorway to a tangle of secrets that spawned a legacy of confusion, misinformation, and pain that still resonates today. The mysteries surrounding McGee's case live on in this provocative tale of justice in the Deep South. 

Based on exhaustive documentary research—court transcripts, newspaper reports, archived papers, letters, FBI documents, and the recollections of family members on both sides—Mississippi native Alex Heard tells a moving and unforgettable story that evokes the bitter conflicts between black and white, North and South, in America. 

  • Tour Sign-ups Open to USA Residents; Leave your name, e-mail, and STATE abbreviation in the comments! 
Tour Participants

1. Carin - done
2. Katy -done 
3. JHS - done (did not finish, no review)
4. Donna - done 
5. Julie- received 9/24
6. Jennifer



Carin said...

I would like to review this book. I'm in TX

JHS said...

Must read this.


jhsmail at comcast dot net

I'm in California!

Katy said...

Katy F.



Carin said...

I just wanted to let you all know that I received the book last night (7/6). I'll start reading it today! So excited! Thank you for choosing me to participate!

Carin said...

I mailed out the book this morning (Priority Mail) to Katy F.

Here is the delivery confirmation #:
0308 3390 0002 0798 6572

You can read my review of the book HERE.

Thanks for letting me participate! It was really fun!

Donna said...

anovelreview [at] gmail [dot] com

Katy said...

Yay! Thanks Carin! I picked up the book from the PO this morning! :)

Katy said...

I put the book in the mail this morning, on it's way to JHS! Here's the DC#: 03091830000172457266


JHS said...

I received it last night.



JHS said...

I had two problems with this book:
1. I just couldn't get through it, even though I am really interested in the subject matter. The writing was horrid and the print too small for my eyes.
2. I could not get to the P.O. on time due to my schedule. I apologize that the book went into the mail 2 days late, but is on its way.

DC #0308 3390 0002 0377 5446


Donna said...

I received the book this morning at the Post Office. I plan to start reading it this weekend. This is my first book through CBT. It appears I have until September 16 to mail this book to Jennifer. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Julie said...

Julie Smith

Donna said...

I sent to Julie via Priority Mail on yesterday. DC #03101230000021444302. ETA is Friday, September 24 (tomorrow). I think using Priority Mail will make up for the days I went over. Please pardon my delay. Thanks.

Donna said...

Please pardon my delay; but I finally got my review posted. Great book!

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