Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King

* Nominated for a 2013 Edgar Award
* Book of the Year (Non-fiction, 2012) The Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor

Arguably the most important American lawyer of the twentieth century, Thurgood Marshall was on the verge of bringing the landmark suit Brown v. Board of Education before the U.S. Supreme Court when he became embroiled in a case that threatened to change the course of the civil rights movement and cost him his life.

In 1949, Florida’s orange industry was booming, and citrus barons got rich on the backs of cheap Jim Crow labor with the help of Sheriff Willis V. McCall, who ruled Lake County with murderous resolve. When a white seventeen-year-old girl cried rape, McCall pursued four young blacks who dared envision a future for themselves beyond the groves. The Ku Klux Klan joined the hunt, hell-bent on lynching the men who came to be known as “the Groveland Boys.”

Associates thought it was suicidal for Marshall to wade into the “Florida Terror,” but the young lawyer would not shrink from the fight despite continuous death threats against him.

Drawing on a wealth of never-before-published material, including the FBI’s unredacted Groveland case files, as well as unprecedented access to the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund files, Gilbert King shines new light on this remarkable civil rights crusader.

Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America
Gilbert King
Harper Perennial
February 19, 2013

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  1. Author Gilbert King wins Pulitzer Prize for book about the notorious Groveland Four case
    April 16, 2013
    By Eloísa Ruano González, Orlando Sentinel

    Author Gilbert King stumbled on the 1949 Lake County case surrounding four black citrus pickers accused of raping a 17-year-old white girl while he was researching a book about Thurgood Marshall, the first black justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Marshall had defended one of the pickers, dubbed the Groveland Four. King thrust the case back into the limelight last year with his book, “Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America.” And on Monday, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction.

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