The Barn: The Secret History of a Murder in Mississippi (Hardcover)

The Barn: The Secret History of a Murder in Mississippi By Wright Thompson Cover Image
$35.00
Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now

Description


“An incredible history of a crime that changed America.” —John Grisham

"Reporting and reckoning can get no better, or more important, than this.” —Kiese Laymon, author of Long Division and Heavy: An American Memoir

"With integrity, and soul, Thompson unearths the terrible how and why, carrying us back and forth through time, deep in Mississippi—baring, sweat, soil, and heart all the way through.” —Imani Perry

A shocking and revelatory account of the murder of Emmett Till that lays bare how forces from around the world converged on the Mississippi Delta in the long lead-up to the crime, and how the truth was erased for so long

Wright Thompson’s family farm in Mississippi is 23 miles from the site of one of the most notorious and consequential killings in American history, yet he had to leave the state for college before he learned the first thing about it. To this day, fundamental truths about the crime are widely unknown, including where it took place and how many people were involved. This is no accident: the cover-up began at once, and it is ongoing. 

In August 1955, two men, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, were charged with the torture and murder of the 14-year-old Emmett Till in Money, Mississippi. After their inevitable acquittal in a mockery of justice, they gave a false confession to a journalist, which was misleading about where the long night of hell took place and who was involved. In fact, Wright Thompson reveals, at least eight people can be placed at the scene, which was inside the barn of one of the killers, on a plot of land within the six-square-mile grid whose official name is Township 22 North, Range 4 West, Section 2, West Half, fabled in the Delta of myth as the birthplace of the blues on nearby Dockery Plantation.

Even in the context of the racist caste regime of the time, the four-hour torture and murder of a Black boy barely in his teens for whistling at a young white woman was acutely depraved; Till’s mother Mamie Till-Mobley’s decision to keep the casket open seared the crime indelibly into American consciousness. Wright Thompson has a deep understanding of this story—the world of the families of both Emmett Till and his killers, and all the forces that aligned to place them together on that spot on the map. As he shows, the full horror of the crime was its inevitability, and how much about it we still need to understand. Ultimately this is a story about property, and money, and power, and white supremacy. It implicates all of us. In The Barn, Thompson brings to life the small group of dedicated people who have been engaged in the hard, fearful business of bringing the truth to light. Putting the killing floor of the barn on the map of Township 22 North, Range 4 West, Section 2, West Half, and the Delta, and America, is a way of mapping the road this country must travel if we are to heal our oldest, deepest wound.
 

About the Author


Wright Thompson is a senior writer for ESPN and the bestselling author of Pappyland and The Cost of These Dreams. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi with his family.

Praise For…


The Barn is the most brutal, layered and absolutely beautiful book about Mississippi, and really how the world conspired with the best and worst parts of Mississippi, I will ever read. In Mississippi, we talk about athletes who bust their ass, skills be damned. Well, every generation you get a few writers with the engine of a 747 and the skill of a wizard. We see it in Ward, Wright, Faulkner and Trethewey. And that finely crafted motor is on full display in this work by Wright Thompson. The Barn is the new standard in research and book-making. There is one Wright Thompson. And we are so lucky he loves Mississippi. Reporting and reckoning can get no better, or more important, than this. Mississippi, goddamn.” —Kiese Laymon, author of Long Division and Heavy: An American Memoir

“The secrets of what happened in The Barn in 1955 when a boy named Emmett Till was murdered have been buried for decades. The killers were never brought to justice and their allies covered up for them. With a passion for truth and justice, and a fierce determination to dig for the secrets, Wright Thompson has produced an incredible history of a crime that changed America.” —John Grisham

“In this important, diligently researched, and beautifully rendered story, Wright Thompson takes up one of the most consequential and tragic events of the twentieth century, the murder of Emmett Till, in the place where it happened. The land, the people, and circumstance are vivid on every page. With integrity, and soul, Thompson unearths the terrible how and why, carrying us back and forth through time, deep in Mississippi—baring sweat, soil, and heart all the way through. Most of all, Thompson teaches us that history is the most important ghost story there is to tell, and that we—the haunted—must be healed.” —Imani Perry

“In this arresting, insightful book, Wright Thompson takes a deep dive into the historical record to guide us on a compelling, thousand-year international journey of power, greed, corruption and injustice, leading inevitably to the lynching of Emmett Till.” —Christopher Benson, Associate Professor, Medill School of Journalism; co-author with Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr., A Few Days Full of Trouble: Revelations on the Journey to Justice for My Cousin and Best Friend, Emmett Till


Product Details
ISBN: 9780593299821
ISBN-10: 0593299825
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publication Date: September 24th, 2024
Pages: 448
Language: English