Midnight Cry
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Midnight Cry

A Shooting on Sand Mountain

Title Details

Pages: 208

Illustrations: 12 b&w images

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in

Formats

Hardcover

Pub Date: 10/01/2024

ISBN: 9-781-5883-8533-8

List Price: $27.95

eBook

Pub Date: 10/01/2024

ISBN: 9-781-5883-8532-1

List Price: $27.95

eBook

Pub Date: 10/01/2024

ISBN: 9-781-5883-8531-4

List Price: $27.95

Imprint

NewSouth Books

Midnight Cry

A Shooting on Sand Mountain

A true crime story that illuminates the shifting culture of the twentieth-century South

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  • Description
  • Reviews

Close to midnight on May 17, 1951, four north Alabama lawmen drove to a bootlegger’s home to serve an arrest warrant. Before the clock struck twelve, the bootlegger lay dead in front of the house he shared with his wife and eight children, and three of the four officers were also dead. Afterward, a sixteen-year-old boy would face a series of trials that would divide a county and thrust the state of Alabama into the national spotlight.

In this good, old-fashioned, true-crime story, Lesa Carnes Shaul draws on court documents, trial transcripts, newspaper articles, and personal interviews to weave together a rollicking and illuminating tale of murder and revenge. Besides the shooting itself and the subsequent trials, the narrative explores the cultural shifts that occurred after World War II in the United States, the Deep South, and the state of Alabama in particular.

Immediately after the war, many southern states, still recovering from the lingering effects of the Great Depression, stood poised to advance toward a progressive New South yet struggled with the legacy of race and class inequities, retrograde government policies, and a stubborn resistance to change. Sand Mountain represented a kind of “land that time forgot” during this era, even as nearby cities like Huntsville and Birmingham sought to claim a place on the national stage in technology, industry, business, and medicine. Through her investigation of this murder trial, Shaul reveals the backwoods justice at play in this isolated area of the American South.

Lesa Carnes Shaul has carved out a piece of northeast Alabama history and, simply stated, owns the brutal story of the Kilpatricks of Sand Mountain. The research is impeccable, the writing crisp, and the tale both tragic and fascinating—a love story and a slaughter. With three men dead and sixteen-year-old James Kilpatrick holding a .30-caliber carbine, Shaul deftly takes readers on a journey through the justice system of early 1950s Alabama.

—Robin Yokum, author of The Sacrifice of Lester Yates

Having grown up in the shadow of Sand Mountain, I remember stories that 'flatlanders' in the small industrial town of Anniston told about 'those hillbillies' who lived just north of us. The stories terrified me as a child, were dismissed when I became an historian writing about poor whites, and reappeared in nightmares when I read Shaul's Midnight Cry. Although that is not the ONLY TRUTH about isolated mountain people, it is certainly one terrifying true story.

—Wayne Flint, author of Afternoons with Harper Lee

About the Author/Editor

LESA CARNES SHAUL spent the first eighteen years of her life in a small town atop Sand Mountain in northeastern Alabama. She is a professor of English at the University of West Alabama. She is the author of Poems of Pure Imagination and lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.