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Extended Audio Sample Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America Audiobook, by Patrick Phillips Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Patrick Phillips Narrator: Patrick Phillips Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2016 ISBN: 9781524722500
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Forsyth County, Georgia, at the turn of the twentieth century was home to a large African American community that included ministers and teachers, farmers and field hands, tradesmen, servants, and children. Many black residents were poor sharecroppers, but others owned their own farms and the land on which they’d founded the county’s thriving black churches.

But then in September of 1912, three young black laborers were accused of raping and murdering a white girl. One man was dragged from a jail cell and lynched on the town square, two teenagers were hung after a one-day trial, and soon bands of white “night riders” launched a coordinated campaign of arson and terror, driving all 1,098 black citizens out of the county. In the wake of the expulsions, whites harvested the crops and took over the livestock of their former neighbors, and quietly laid claim to “abandoned” land. The charred ruins of homes and churches disappeared into the weeds, until the people and places of black Forsyth were forgotten.

National Book Award finalist Patrick Phillips tells Forsyth’s tragic story in vivid detail and traces its long history of racial violence all the way back to antebellum Georgia. Recalling his own childhood in the 1970s and ’80s, Phillips sheds light on the communal crimes of his hometown and the violent means by which locals kept Forsyth “all white” well into the 1990s.

Blood at the Root is a sweeping American tale that spans the Cherokee removals of the 1830s, the hope and promise of Reconstruction, and the crushing injustice of Forsyth’s racial cleansing. With bold storytelling and lyrical prose, Phillips breaks a century-long silence and uncovers a history of racial terrorism that continues to shape America in the twenty-first century.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “So timely and necessary a powerful reckoning with the past.”

    Natasha Trethewey, Pulitzer Prize winning author

  • “An astonishing and thoroughgoing account…[that] humanizes its subjects and brims with detail.”

    New York Times

  • “Gripping and meticulously documented.”

    Washington Post

  • “Meticulously and elegantly reveals the power of white supremacy in its many guises…to distort and destroy, not only lives and accomplishments, but historical memory, the law and basic human civility.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “An impressive and timely case study of the racial violence and historical amnesia that characterize much of American history. Phillips…is a gifted storyteller.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Phillips’ book feels timely, unapologetically discussing the way fear, panic, ignorance, and timing may have kept Forsyth County trapped in the past.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “This is a gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism, and Phillips tells it with rare clarity and power.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “‘Racial purity is Forsyth’s security,’” whites proclaimed… Throughout the book, Phillips successfully contextualizes Forsyth in American racism’s long history…with moving intimacy.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • A 2016 Smithsonian Magazine Pick of Top Ten History Books
  • A New York Times Best Book of 2016
  • A Boston Globe Book of the Year
  • Longlisted for the 2016 Kirkus Prize
  • A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Selection
  • A Men’s Journal Pick of Best Books of 2016
  • A Barnes & Noble Best Book of the Year
  • An Amazon Best Book of 2016
  • A Guardian Pick of Best American Writing for Fall 2016
  • A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2016
  • A Library Journal Best Book of 2016
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About the Author

Patrick Phillips is an award-winning poet, translator, and professor. A Guggenheim and NEA Fellow, he is author of the poetry collection Elegy for a Broken Machine, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. He teaches at Drew University.