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A Game Called Salisbury: The Spinning of a Southern Tragedy and the Myths of Race

by:
Susan Barringer Wells (Author)

ISBN: 0-7414-4425-9 ©2007
Price: $23.95
Book Size: 5.5'' x 8.5'' , 476 pages
Category/Subject: HISTORY / United States / State & Local / South (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV)

Setting out to solve the mystery of her relatives’ axe murder, Wells uncovered a sinister political strategy that stole black Americans’ rights, enjoyed decades before Martin Luther King marched on Montgomery.

Abstract:
While researching her family history, Wells uncovered a story of the brutal axe murder of four of her relatives and origins of race myths that fueled the savagery of the lynching that followed. Soon after, she found a noose that had sat for a century in an ancestor’s old well house. And hiding inside her own DNA, she discovered even more surprising secrets in her past.

Her book is about two murder mysteries, two lynchings, and North Carolina’s vicious 1898 political campaign—a campaign so charged with racial rhetoric, its fallout still contaminates race relations in the South today.

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Customer Reviews

  What A Book! , 12/29/2007
Reviewer: Ann R.
Oh Susan, WHAT A BOOK!!!!!! I have just read the last page and I will never forget this book [nor would I want to]. It is a book that every southerner should read - especially those of us who grew up in the segregated south. I wish I could get my hands on the social studies or history books that were used in the classrooms of the schools that I attended in Richmond Va and see if I missed something. The books seemed to say that after the Civil War ended the slaves were FREE and could live a good life - what more could they want? I asked my husband who attended schools here in Greensboro and he said the same thing - we were led to believe that all was well for the freed slaves! I do remember something about lynchings but not from the classroom and not much from any source. I guess that was the beginning of the "spin" of the press to bring us up believing that all should be forgiven and forgotten! The book was painful to read and so very real - I felt like I knew the people. I will never forget some of them! The ones who were lynched will be with me always. You did a wonderful job of making them unforgettable. I could go on and on but it is late and I just had to let you know that I did enjoy the book and I hope that it will make others aware of how we treated our African American brothers and sisters so that it will never happen again. You had the perfect ending for the book - the words and wisdom of Martin Luther King! Ann

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  Tough To Put Down , 12/29/2007
Reviewer: Marilyn H
This book demands attention. It is tough to put it down, once started get ready to read on. Fascinating story, this page-turner delivers not only a complex who-dunnit but also illustrates the power of the inflammatory press of the early 1900’s. There is much to learn here also, it is almost a cautionary tale….how and perhaps why we find ourselves in painful issues of race. The author writes with passion to tell her story…devoted to illuminating the humanity of the accused as well that of her murdered relatives.

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  A Page-Turner , 12/29/2007
Reviewer: Jennifer V.
Everyone MUST read this book, especially if you're from the South. You've been lied to for a very long time, and it's time to wake up. Wells formulates an intriguing, multi-layered story that shouldn't be missed.

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  Truth Will Set Us Free , 12/31/2007
Reviewer: marilyn harrison
I believe that this remarkable book extends beyond the locale, beyond the region, in it's steadfast pursuit of justice. It is a remarkable journey, a riveting read, an eye opener for all of us that somehow grew up with our history deleted and distorted. My school bus passed the Lyerly homeplace twice a day, and twice a day I would remember the things spoken about the murders, the murdered family and the murdered accused. It was many years later after returning to my home town that I met Susan Barringer Wells, while she was doing research on location. John Redwine Barringer is my great great grandfather also. This book is about more than Salisbury's game, tragically these scenarios played across our country and not exclusively in the south...the hateful politics of Jim Crow, the contrived propaganda, the damning and manipulating press left us with a legacy of pain still present. This book gives us the opportunity to expand our knowledge of ourselves and others. Many families experience similar if not the same schisms. Aside from being a page turner, and it is, her research is impeccable, matched by her compassion for all of the victims, those left behind, self righteous in perverse vindication, she writes also for the generations that have followed, wading through a history sullied with an ommision of the truth. This book gives hope and wings to the adage that the truth will set us free. I would like to thank the author, the time could never be more perfect for us to examine the climate of then and now. Read On! Next book please!

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  Excerpts from publications , 07/24/2009
Reviewer: Susan B. Wells
From THE NORTH CAROLINA HISTORICAL REVIEW: "The study’s emphasis on the media’s role in the lynchings is of particular interest.... Wells’s description of the scant punishment mob members faced...is notable for its exposure of the class prejudice that coexisted with racial prejudice in early twentieth-century North Carolina. A Game Called Salisbury makes for engaging, albeit disturbing, reading. "—Elizabeth Crowder, Raleigh, North Carolina From Writer/English Professor Tex Wood: …Faulknerian in its revelations and observations of human nature, clearly spotlighting the question of real responsibility not just for active human evil, but also for spawning its activity.... Wells shows us that lynchings were (and are) the tip of the iceberg, the cruel result of calculated manipulation of our base human natures and our cowardliness in not confronting evil when we see it, either now or then. While this book lacks Twain’s humor, it rivals his incisiveness.” From Rob Neufeld, ASHEVILLE CITIZEN-TIMES: Author does dogged detective work about a family murder Rob Neufeld Columnist February 17, 2008 12:15 am “One of the most chilling recent books about local history comes to our eyes via self-publication. In “A Game Called Salisbury” (Infinity Publishing), Susan Barringer Wells presents the story of a series of murders and retributive lynchings that had taken place within her family a century ago. The book is exhaustively researched and compellingly related. To be passionate about a subject is one thing; to tell the story in a fresh and focused way, as Wells does, is a rarer achievement.”

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