Books

Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
NEW!

Wilmington’s Lie

The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy

by David Zucchino

From Pulitzer Prize-winner David Zucchino comes a crucial account of the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898, an extraordinary event in our history that is virtually unknown to most Americans

  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 448
  • Publication Date January 07, 2020
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2838-6
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $28.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Publication Date January 07, 2020
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4648-9
  • US List Price $28.00

By 1898 Wilmington, North Carolina, was a shining example of a mixed-race community—a bustling port city with a thriving African American middle class and a government made up of Republicans and Populists, including black aldermen, police officers, and magistrates.  But across the state—and the South—white supremacist Democrats were working to reverse the advances made by former slaves and their progeny. They were plotting to take back the state legislature in the November 8th elections and then use a controversial editorial published by black newspaper editor Alexander Manly to trigger a rebellion or “race riot” to overthrow the elected government in Wilmington. With a coordinated campaign of intimidation and violence, the Democrats sharply curtailed the black vote and stuffed ballot boxes to steal the 1898 mid-term election. Two days later, more than 2,000 heavily armed white nightriders known as Red Shirts swarmed through Wilmington, terrorizing women and children and shooting at least 60 black men dead in the streets. The rebels forced city officials and leading black citizens to flee at gun point while hundreds of local African Americans took refuge in nearby swamps and forests.

This brutal insurrection is the only violent overthrow of an elected government in U.S. history. It halted gains made by blacks and restored racism as official government policy, cementing white rule for another 70 years. It was not a “race riot” as the events of November 1898 came to be known, but rather a racially-motivated rebellion launched by white supremacists. In Wilmington’s Lie, David Zucchino uses contemporary newspaper reports, diaries, letters and official communications to create a gripping narrative that weaves together individual stories of hate, fear, and brutality. This is a dramatic and definitive account of a remarkable but forgotten chapter of American history.

Praise for Wilmington’s Lie:

“David Zuccchino is one of the finest foreign correspondents I have ever worked with in 40 years of journalism. Now imagine you take someone with David’s reporting skills and transport him back in history to 1898 and Wilmington, North Carolina. And you tell him to tell us the story of the only violent overthrow of an elected government in American history. It was perpetrated by white supremacists seeking to reverse the remarkable advances in racial pluralism in Wilmington of that day—a positive example that was primed to spread throughout the state, and beyond. What you end up with is a gripping, cannot-put-down book that is both history and a distant mirror on just how much can go wrong in this great country of ours when populist politicians play the race card without restraint.”—Thomas Friedman

“A staggeringly great book, both thrilling and tragic, shining light on a dark passage of American history.”—Tim Weiner, National Book Award–winning author of Legacy of Ashes

Wilmington’s Lie is riveting and meticulously reported and powerfully written. It is also scalding and revelatory. As David Zucchino shows with relentless drama, the end of the Civil War was not the end of slavery but the beginning of a period more terrifying, the unchecked rise of white supremacy that culminated in a day of unparalleled blood in a North Carolina coastal town. It is a forgotten chapter in American history. Zucchino has now made it an unforgettable one.”—Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights

Praise for David Zucchino:

“Even a very short, victorious shooting war against a disorganized, dispirited, vastly outnumbered and underequipped enemy is hell. That is the central message that Los Angeles Times correspondent Zucchino brings home startlingly well in this riveting account of the American military’s lightning capture of Baghdad in April 2003… [A] high-quality example of in-depth and evocative war reporting.”—Publishers Weekly, on Thunder Run

“Zucchino does not obscure the ugliness—including welfare recipients who embrace dependence—that surrounds them, but what stands out is the resilience of these women in the face of events that would be insurmountable tragedies for most middle- and upper-class Americans. It is unlikely this book will engender new and widespread respect for welfare mothers, for the ‘welfare queen’ myth draws its strength from what people want to believe, not misperceptions of reality. But by setting aside presuppositions and moral judgments to simply describe what he finds, Zucchino offers a substantive image of life on welfare.”—Kirkus Reviews, on Myth of the Welfare Queen