In 1925, Dr. Ossian Sweet bought a charming bungalow in a working class Detroit neighborhood. He moved in with his wife Gladys, and that very first evening, hundreds of neighbors poured in the street in front of his home, threatening to cause harm to his family. Why? Because Dr. Sweet was a black man who had the audacity to purchase a home in a white neighborhood. In spite of the police protection Dr. Sweet had arranged beforehand, it wasn’t enough to stop events from spiraling out of hand. Rocks were thrown at the home, breaking glass, and shots were fired. Two members of the white crowd outside were shot, one lay dead. Dr. Sweet and other members of his family were quickly arrested and put on trial for murder.
In addition to being a true story, Kevin Boyle’s narrative non-fiction is just as a much a page-turner as a best-selling legal thriller. Yes, it’s that good. From Dr. Sweet’s impressive and heart breaking background to a trial for the ages, featuring renowned defense attorney Clarence Darrow and the fates of both the NAACP and the institution of segregation at stake, it doesn’t get much better than this. It’s no surprise Arc of Justice is a National Book Award winner.
5 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2004
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