Friday, April 17, 2020

Unpunished Murder by Lawrence Goldstone - ADVISABLE

Unpunished Murder: Massacre at Colfax and the Quest for Justice by Lawrence Goldstone, 263 pages. NON-FICTION  Scholastic, 2018.  $18.  

Content: Language: PG (1 swear); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13.  



Covering the time period from the conclusion of the Civil War, the handling of the Emancipation Proclamation to the efforts made for Reconstruction, this history concentrates on the court systems interpretation of freedom and justice and its effects on African Americans in the U.S.  A violent mass murder in Colfax, Louisiana in 1873, left at least one hundred African Americans dead at the hands of white supremacists.  When justice was attempted in the courts, multiple times, judges changed the interpretation of freedom for African Americans in the South for the next hundred years.  

The Reconstruction period was barely mentioned when I went to high school and it was always explained as a complicated time, so I feel like this book filled a historical gap in my education.  The author provides history leading up to the Colfax conflict, including human interest stories, and then lays out the proceeding consequences and judicial cases and the pacing was well done.  The intended audience does seem to lean towards older readers, but I think teachers would benefit the most from this book.  The violence is a massacre, it’s not gratuitous but it is upsetting.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson

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