NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY NPR and THE WASHINGTON POST
"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.
Voice actor Farr offers a simple reading of King's true crime saga set in the Jim Crow South. During the winter of 1957, Blanche Knowles, a white woman and the wife of a wealthy citrus baron in Lake County, Fla., is raped. She describes her rapist as a black man with bushy hair. Yet, despite evidence to the contrary, it is a mentally disabled white teenager, Jesse Daniels, who is convicted of the crime, and his family is ostracized by the community at the mere suggestion of having black ancestry. He spends the next 14 years committed to the state hospital for the insane at Chattahoochee. Despite an uncaring bureaucracy, crooked lawmen, and frightening harassment by the KKK, Jesse's mother and a dedicated investigative reporter work tirelessly to prove Jesse's innocence. Farr cleanly guides the listener through this tale of injustice and unabashed, rampant racism. Farr's clear and steady reading keeps listeners attuned to the historical detail and plot twists that drive King's narrative. A Riverhead hardcover.
High Praise for a Job Well-Done
I read this having not previously read anything by this author and was pleasantly rewarded for the effort. I initially gathered that it was a story about race, because that’s what one of the reviewers stated, but it was a story about, not only race, but also about “good old boy” power bases, unrestrained and unchecked in their Home Counties, but then networked with other organizations similar to theirs, throughout the state of Florida, and ostensibly in other jurisdictions, which ultimately provided an impermeable force field for county governments to do whatever they wanted as segregation in the south began to gasp its final breaths. But most of all it was a story about the courage of a dedicated mother, a committed journalist, and a lawyer who came to the aid of a developmentally disabled young man who had been separated from all that he new and loved, after being railroaded by the racist sheriff’s department and prosecutors office. I was enraptured from page one as the story quickly pulled me into this tragedy and held me captive until the end.
Great story of the 1950’s south
This is one of the best books I have ever read. It is a true story of racism, crime of rape, societies perceptions and treatment of mental deficiencies , racism, corruption , the legal system and so much more. Gilbert King does a wonderful job of tying this in-depth story together and tells a captivating story, highly recommend