Book Review | An Unspeakable Crime: The Prosecution and Persecution of Leo Frank
by Elaine Marie Alphin
While reading this riveting account of the murder of Mary Phagan, a poor, white, 13-year-old factory worker from Atlanta, Georgia, and the trial of her accused murderer, Leo Frank, a 29-year-old, Jewish man from New York, I often had to stop and remember that this event actually took place on American soil in the 20th century. To read that witnesses, evidence and juries could be manipulated in such a way as to send an innocent man to his death is appalling enough. To then learn that a governor stood up for what was right only to be overridden by a lynch mob is sickening. To then read that not one of the men involved in the lynching were ever punished for the crime of taking the law into their own hands is unconscionable. As you can tell, this book cannot be read without causing a plethora of emotions to emerge.
However, some good did result from all of this tragedy. The Anti-Defamation League was created to see that such a situation never arose again.
This is historical writing at its finest. Mesmerizing, factual, leading the reader step-by-step through the unfolding of a tragic occurrence in American history that began with the murder of an innocent child and ended with the murder of an innocent man. Photographs, newspaper clippings, primary sources and excellent research have created a fabulous tribute to a terrible story.
Grade Level: 5th- 12th
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Books used in this review were provided by my local public library.
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