Each year, hundreds of booksellers across the South vote on their favorite books of the year, and this year one of our outstanding authors, David Beasley, is nominated for Without Mercy in the Nonfiction category.
To be eligible for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Book Award, the nominee had to be a book that was Southern in nature, or by a Southern author and all nominations must come via a Southern Independent Bookstore. This Independence Day, July 4, 2015, a jury of SIBA booksellers will announce a winner in each of the five categories (Children’s, Cooking, Fiction, Nonfiction, and Young Adult).
Read an excerpt from Without Mercy below—it is a stunning true story of race, crime, and corruption in the Deep South:
“In 1927, the Klan’s inﬂuence was waning both in Georgia and nationally but could still help a young politician in Georgia who had the blessings of the Klan as Rivers did.
It is impossible to say exactly what the Klan was up to in those days in South Georgia during Rivers’s reign as great titan. There is no central repository for Klan records. Most were destroyed over the years, oftentimes amid criminal investigations. Surviving Klan records tend to turn up in scattered pieces in attics and barns. Only slowly over the years have researchers been able to piece together a glimpse of Klan membership rolls and other vital information about the secret organization during that time.
Many of the details of the Klan’s night riding, the marauding, the ﬂoggings, the lynchings, are still a mystery, but the broad policy agenda of the Klan in the late 1920s is clear. It was a group that centered on maintaining the “purity” of the white race. It despised Catholics and promoted public education, including taxpayer-provided textbooks for school- children.
The ﬁrst Klan was launched right after the Civil War in Pulaski, Tennessee, as a social club, but the next year it became a “regulative and protective organization” and began terrorizing former slaves, trying to put them back in their places, trying to make sure they realized that they might be free but they were not equal. This ﬁrst Klan was disbanded in 1872 by its grand wizard, the former Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest. By then, it had accomplished its goal of making sure that the freed slaves understood: The white man was still running the show in the South, emancipation or no emancipation, Thirteenth Amendment or no Thirteenth Amendment, and the Klan would enforce this with the sword if necessary.”
DAVID BEASLEY is a former editor for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the co-author of Inside Coca-Cola. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia. His latest work is Without Mercy.