Monday, April 19, 2010

Spies of Mississippi Rick Bowers

Spies of Mississippi by Rick Bowers
This is the true story of the spy network that tried to destroy the Civil Rights Movements.
In 1956 newly elected Mississippi Governor J.P. Coleman pass a bill called Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission. This bill allowed the state of Mississippi to spy on people so segregation could continue throughout the state.

I was excited to get my hands on this book, it sounded interesting. Unfortunately I was underwhelmed. History isn't one of my strength but still I was left wanting.

Emmett Till was lynched in Mississippi in 1955. Many believed Till's murder help bring about the civil rights movement, yet Bowers didn't mention it. It would've made sense to include since many White Mississippians who were determined to keep the state segregated were threatened by the national attention. This fear was probably one of the main reasons behind the spying bill.

The chapters are very short, many facts felt underdeveloped. In chapter four Pipeline, Bowers discusses men White and Black who went undercover to infiltrate NAACP meetings. Bowers mentions two of the Black informants are found out. Though he doesn't go into any detail. I would love to know what Black men and women fighting for equality would do to someone of their own race who betrayed them.

Chapter nine Never Never Land, is about how segregation was allowed to thrive in Mississippi. The chapter ends with Bowers mentioning Dick Gregory.

"Black comedian Dick Gregory, who gained celebrity statue entertaining white and black nightclub audiences and appearing on national TV, charged that the military veteran, college student, and chicken farmer had been framed, railroaded into prison, abused, neglected, and left for dead."

The first two words I associate with Dick Gregory are comedian, activists. Bowers neglected to say Dick Gregory was a Civil Rights activists, without that fact it makes no sense to quote him. I would've even been okay with "Black social conscious comedian Dick Gregory" just something so readers unfamiliar with Dick Gregory will know why his words held weight.

The chapter on Medgar Evers is eight pages and that includes both acquittals of his killer. I didn't get a good sense of who Medger Evers and what he meant to the Civil Rights movements.

From the beginning, Bowers is quick to move on to a new fact and I was left wondering about what wasn't mentioned.

Read an excerpt
I've linked this post to Nonfiction Monday. This weeks nonfiction round up can be found at Wrapped in Foil


Jenny said...

I'd read a synopsis of this book and thought it sounded fascinating! What a shame it's not well-developed enough to be an interesting history. :(

Mary Ann Scheuer said...

Doret, thanks for an honest, critical review. I have this on my TBR pile - it seemed very interesting. I still want to read it, but will keep a critical eye on it. I know it isn't easy to write critical reviews, but it's important. thanks, Mary Ann

Roberta said...

Given that this can be considered a young adult book, it seems like it should have had more to it.

Maybe someone else will step up to fill in the gaps?

Colleen said...

I've got this one too. I am happy to see something on the subject, finally as I don't recall anything about the folks infiltrating the NACCP before. But I'll keep your thoughts in mind as I read!