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The Temple Bombingby Melissa Fay Greene
Synopses & Reviews
At 3:37 in the morning of Sunday, October 12, 1958, a bundle of dynamite blew out the side wall of the Temple, Atlanta's oldest and grandest synagogue. The South was in the grip of a vast backlash against the Supreme Court's order to desegregate the schools; a "Confederate underground" of White Citizens Councils, Ku Klux Klan Klaverns, and armed cadres of neo-Nazis plotted to "retake" America. When a liberal rabbi from Pittsburgh, Jacob Rothschild, took the helm of the Temple and began to speak out on civil rights, his congregants begged him to be careful.
The attack on the Temple was, in its day, the worst act of domestic terrorism in American history. The cast of characters — the silver-haired, cane-twirling defense attorney, the defendant who believed Jews ran the civil rights movement, the segregationist judges, the intimidated citizens, the early civil rights leaders, the Rothschilds, Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King, the Freedom Riders — all move across a fiery stage with words that still resonate dramatically today.
In 1958, anti-Semitic white supremacists dynamited Atlanta's oldest Jewish synagogue, whose rabbi, Pittsburgh-born Jacob Rothschild, was an outspoken advocate of integration. A trial of the accused terrorists ended in a hung jury, and a second trial in acquittal. The Reform Jewish Temple became a rallying point uniting blacks and Jews in efforts for racial justice, and Rabbi Rothschild (who died in 1974 at the age of 62) befriended Martin Luther King Jr., who in 1960 moved home to Atlanta, the scene of many critical confrontations in the early civil rights movement. Greene recreates these events in a spellbinding narrative written with fierce moral passion and a great sense of historic drama. By delving into the exclusionary policies and attitudes of Atlanta's white Protestant elite, tensions within the city's Jewish community, related terrorist incidents and links among right-wing extremist, racist and anti-Semitic organizations, she has reclaimed a forgotten chapter of the civil rights era. Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A powerful retelling of a crucial tragedy that, in all its elements, resonates all too loudly today; and a tribute to Rothschild — a forgotten, well, hero of the civil rights movement." Kirkus Reviews
"This book is as illuminating as it is shocking.... The emotional power of the narrative is heightened by the author's gifts as a storyteller.... She has talent for bringing scenes vividly alive." Nora Sayre, New York Times Book Review
"Reads like a gripping, bestselling novel.... How and why this horrific bombing transpired is the book's main subject. Unraveling who would do such a thing becomes a psychological thriller in Greene's hands.... The Temple Bombing culminates in the suspenseful trials following the crime." San Francisco Chronicle
"An important book that brings to life a pivotal time and place in Southern history." Washington Post
THE SHOCKING TRUE STORY OF A BRUTAL ACT OF HATE
"At 3:37 in the morning of Sunday, Oct. 12, 1958, a bundle of dynamite blew out the side wall of the Temple, Atlanta's oldest and richest synagogue. The devastation to the building was vast--but even greater were the changes those 50 sticks of dynamite made to Atlanta, the South and, ultimately, all of the United States. . . . The synagogue's rabbi, Jacob Rothschild, had been preaching civil rights to his congregation for years. If the bombers thought the dynamite could silence Rothschild, they were sadly misinformed. . . ."
"GREENE SKILLFULLY WEAVES THE TEMPLE BOMBING INTO THE HISTORY OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT. . . . A profound social context for her compelling portrait of its hero, Rabbi Rothschild."
--The Philadelphia Inquirer
"THIS BOOK IS ILLUMINATING AS IT IS SHOCKING. . . . The emotional power of the narrative is heightened by the author's gifts as a storyteller. . . . She has talent for bringing scenes vividly alive."
--The New York Times Book Review
"READS LIKE A GRIPPING, BESTSELLING NOVEL . . . How and why this horrific bombing transpired is the book's main subject. Unraveling who would do such a thing becomes a psychological thriller in Greene's hands. . . . The Temple Bombing culminates in the suspenseful trials following the crime."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"RICH WITH ARTFULLY DRAWN CHARACTERS . . . We can be grateful to Greene for re-creating the story of an unheralded hero of the civil rights movement."
--Atlanta Journal & Constitution
A brilliant and moving examination of one town that came together in the face of hatred
At 3:37 in the morning of Sunday, October 12, 1958, a bundle of dynamite blew out the side wall of the Temple, Atlanta's oldest and richest synagogue. The devastation to the building was vast-but even greater were the changes those 50 sticks of dynamite made to Atlanta, the South, and ultimately, all of the United States (Detroit Free Press). Finalist for the National Book Award, The Temple Bombing is the brilliant and moving examination of one town that came together in the face of hatred, a book that rescues a slice of the civil rights era whose lessons still resonate nearly fifty years after that fateful fall day.
About the Author
Melissa Fay Greene is an award-winning author and journalist whose writing has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Atlantic Monthly, the Chicago Tribune, and Newsweek. She is also the author of Last Man Out: The Story of the Springhill Mine Disaster and the forthcoming There Is No Me Without You (Bloomsbury Press). She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
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