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Published on Sep 24, 2010
"Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America,1890 - 1940"
Between 1880 and 1940, more than 3,000 African Americans were lynched in the U.S., often in very public displays of torture and suffering. Amy Louise Wood is not the first to document these atrocities, but in her book, "Lynching and Spectacle," she gives us an entirely new perspective on this difficult and horrific subject.
Dr. Wood places lynching within the "larger culture of spectacle" of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which arose out of other highly public events such as executions and religious gatherings. Depictions of lynching in the emerging medium of the motion picture and via widely distributed still photography made it an intensely public activity. These popular visual representations of lynching initially promoted the crime, but ultimately contributed to its decline. The overall effect of Lynching and Spectacle is to portray a region and a nation engaged in a painful and often brutal transition to modernity.
In his review of Lynching and Spectacle, Guy Lancaster calls the book "phenomenal." Michael Pfeifer asserts that it should be read by "all who are interested in the cultural relations of lynching." For J. Vincent Lowry, Wood "helps us better understand why the freedom struggle took so long."