At the Hands of Persons UnknownPhilip DrayModern LibraryDecember 18, 2007It is easy to shrink from our countrys brutal history of lynching. Lynching is called the last great skeleton in our nations closet: It terrorized all of black America, claimed thousands upon thousands of victims in the decades between the 1880s and the Second World War, and leaves invisible but deep scars to this day. The cost of pushing lynching into the shadows, howevermisremembering it as isolated acts perpetrated by bigots on societys fringesis insupportably high: Until we understand how pervasive and socially accepted the practice wasand, more important, why this was soit will haunt all efforts at racial reconciliation.I could not suppress the thought, James Baldwin once recalled of seeing the red clay hills of Georgia on his first trip to the South, that this earth had acquired its color from the blood that had dripped down from these trees. Throughout America, not just in the South, blacks accused of a crimeor merely of violating social or racial customswere hunted by mobs, abducted from jails, and given summary justice in blatant defiance of all guarantees of due process under law. Men and women were shot, hanged, tortured, and burned, often in sadistic, picnic-like spectacle lynchings involving thousands of witnesses. At the hands of persons unknown was the official verdict rendered on most of these atrocities.The celebrated historian Philip Dray shines a clear, bright light on this dark historyits causes, perpetrators, apologists, and victims. He also tells the story of the men and women who led the long and difficult fight to expose and eradicate lynching, including Ida B. Wells, James Weldon Johnson, Walter White, and W.E.B. Du Bois. If lynching is emblematic of what is worst about America, their fight may stand for what is best: the love of justice and fairness and the conviction that one individuals sense of right can suffice to defy the gravest of wrongs. This landmark book follows the trajectory of both forces over American historyand makes the history of lynching belong to us all.From the Hardcover edition. About the AuthorPhilip Dray is the co-author of We Are Not Afraid: The Story of Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney and the Civil Rights Campaign for Mississippi, which was a New York Times Notable Book for 1988. Born in Chicago and raised in Minnesota, Dray now lives in New York City. He has been a contributor to many publications, including Mother Jones, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times.From the Hardcover edition.About ScrollmotionScrollMotion, creator of the Iceberg Reader, is a content technology company based in New York City. For more information, visit www.scrollmotion.com.SupportIf you have any technical problems please email us at email@example.com before you post a review.