I am happy to announce that my book, Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement, first published in 2015 by the University Press of Mississippi, is now available in paperback. It contains a new foreword by me and a few updates in the closing pages of the book. Click to order.
I researched and wrote this book between 2004 and 2014, and as of 2018, it is still the most comprehensive study of the case to date and likely will be for years to come. It is based on hundreds of hours of archival research, sifting through dozens of newspaper stories, as well as original interviews with those who witnessed the case unfold, including Emmett Till’s family members who were with him in Mississippi, trial witnesses, and newspaper reporters who covered the story in 1955. It also brings the case up to the present, including the recent FBI investigation. The late Julian Bond, civil rights legend and former chair of the NAACP, wrote the foreword.
"Drawing on new evidence and interviews with Till's family members, witnesses to the murder, and reporters who covered the trial that exonerated the accused killers, Anderson offers a very detailed examination of the murder and its significance in the long history of racial abuses in the South under Jim Crow. He details the lives of Emmett and Mamie Till, his mother, in Chicago; the fateful trip to Mississippi; and the aftermath. In a separate section, Anderson looks at how the story of Till's death reemerged after 50 years and sparked an intense investigation, including the exhumation of Till's body. He concludes with his own theory about the case and its legacy, a fund to investigate cold cases of civil rights murders prior to 1970. Photographs enhance this very thorough and compelling look at the murder that galvanized the civil rights movement and continues to act as a rallying call for racial justice."—Vanessa Bush, Booklist
"Devery S. Anderson's Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement provides a full and detailed picture of the murder of Emmett Till and its legacy. While there have been numerous books and several documentaries on Till's murder, trial, and its aftermath--including the posthumously published Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America by Till's mother--Mr. Anderson's book takes readers deep inside the political psyche and cultural mindset of Mississippi at the time. Emmett Till is masterfully researched, drawing on public archives and public collections to present the most detailed account of this horrific story."—W. Ralph Eubanks, Wall Street Journal
"The manuscript is balanced, clearly organized, exhaustively researched, and well written. The narrative flows logically and will hold the attention of readers who are otherwise unfamiliar with the case. Right now, and probably for decades to come, it will be the definitive work on this subject. The manuscript will not only be of interest to a general readership but historians in such fields as civil rights history, the history of the South, and legal history. It offers much that is entirely new to our understanding of this topic and/or sheds an original light on old questions. This book will deserve a place in any good library." —David T. Beito, co-author, Black Maverick: T.R.M. Howard's Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power
"Much has been written about the Till case in the past decade, but what has been missing is a definitive history of the case. This book provides that definitive history. The author gives a thorough account of the case from almost every angle. I am very familiar with the scholarship on Emmett Till, and the author has left no stone unturned. ...A reader coming to the case for the first time will get the best account we have of the case; scholars familiar with it will learn new details from new sources, and will be persuaded by how well the author settles long debated controversies about what happened and when. The author knows where the historical record is murky or contradictory, and he never rushes to judgment. When he does settle a controversy, he marshals the requisite evidence. When he is not able to settle a controversy, he presents the contradictory evidence and leaves it unresolved. Anyone interested in this case will find this book a valuable guide to the full story of Emmett Till."—Christopher Metress, ed., The Lynching of Emmett Till: A Documentary Narrative