Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King

Devil in the Grove is a fantastic, yet sad, story about Thurgood M13425592arshall’s defense of four young black men (known as the Groveland Boys) who were falsely accused of raping a white woman in Lake County, Florida in 1949.

The book details life in Florida during the 1940s when the citrus industry was booming and white men were making large profits by paying African-American laborers low wages. White supremacists groups also took the law into their own hands, and Jim Crow laws were enforced.

King describes the night of the alleged rape, the accusation, and the county sheriff’s determination to make a quick arrest. The author also tells of how the Ku Klux Klan began burning the homes of black families in the area and led a mob to the jail where the Groveland Boys were being held.

Devil in the Grove explains the chain of events that led Thurgood Marshall to lead a team from the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund to defend the Groveland Boys. The book reveals Marshall’s defense strategy and his reasons for taking on the case. It also illustrates the enormous challenges faced by an African-American lawyer in the Jim Crow era and enumerates the racial injustice of the time.

This is a captivating story and I would recommend it to anyone interested in civil rights. Devil in the Grove was the winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. The book is available for checkout at the VC/UHV Library.

Review written by Amanda B.