Codename Greenkil
download cover image ►

Codename Greenkil

The 1979 Greensboro Killings

Title Details

Pages: 354

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 09/21/2009

ISBN: 9-780-8203-3148-5

List Price: $36.95

Codename Greenkil

The 1979 Greensboro Killings

Skip to

  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Awards

On November 3, 1979, in a Greensboro, North Carolina, housing project, gunfire erupted when a group of Klansmen and Nazis responded to public challenges to "face the wrath of the people" at a Communist-sponsored anti-Klan demonstration. Eighty-eight terror-filled seconds later, four demonstrators were dead, one was dying, and nine others were wounded. All of the dead were members of the Communist Workers Party (CWP).

In Codename Greenkil, Elizabeth Wheaton goes behind the scenes of the shootings to reveal the sixteen-year history of people and events that set the stage for the tragedy and its aftermath. In her new afterword, Wheaton looks at the legacy of the shootings, focusing in particular on the survivor-initiated Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission, whose members were empaneled in June 2004 and issued their final report in May 2006.

Wheaton had made a painstaking investigation—at times a minute-by-minute recontruction—of the fatal assault. She has exhausted the sources, many of the most important of which were skillful interviews with participants and eyewitnesses, to supply a meticulous account of the antecedents, the shooting, and the two trials. . . . Wheaton has made a notable contribution to our understanding of what she calls 'the slow evolution of disaster in the making' and to a 'join[ing of] hands across national and ideological boundaries to stop it before it consumes us.'

Journal of American History

This insightful study is highly recommended. . . . Wheaton profiles the most interesting actors from each group and provides a lot of information on their backgrounds and character development.

Library Journal

A detailed account of the Greensboro killings . . . Wheaton does an impressive job of tracking the complicated legal details to the case.

Washington Monthly

An absorbing and complete account of this tragic episode and its tangled aftermath . . . A thoughtful and balanced work that examines the social climate that fostered the racism and violently anti-Communist fervor that fueled the Klansmen and Nazis as well as the left-wing idealism that shaped the philosophies of the anti-Klan demonstrators.

St. Petersburg Times

A definitive, evenhanded account.

Kirkus Reviews


Gustavus Myers Award, Gustavus Myers Program for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights

About the Author/Editor

ELIZABETH WHEATON (1943–2018) first wrote about the Greensboro killings in 1981 for the Institute for Southern Studies and Southern Exposure magazine and later reported on two federal trials of the case for United Press International. Following a varied path through the world of writing, reporting, and publishing, she retired in 2000 to a woodland retreat in rural North Carolina.