A bio-memoir book recommendation: Major/Minor by Alba Arikha

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2iFsoGX.
Arikha intertwines her story with the story she draws from her father. She tells both carefully, pacing out the lines so that at times they look and sound like poetry. It’s not, though, nor is it meant to be.
Book description from Google Books:
Alba Arikha’s father was the artist, Avigdor Arikha; her mother the poet, Anne Atik; her godfather, Samuel Beckett. Their apartment/studio, where Alba and her sister grew up, was a hub of literary and artistic achievement, which still reverberates today. Alba’s tale is played out against the family memories of war and exile and the ever present echoes of the European holocaust. Alba Arikha has previously published a novel, Muse, and a collection of short stories, Walking on Ice, under the name Alba Branca.
The book is rated 3.47/5 at goodreads.com, from 17 ratings. See 1 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2iCuTtT.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2iFszC7.

A war book recommendation: He Calls Me By Lightning: The Life of Caliph Washington and the forgotten Saga of Jim Crow, Southern Justice, and the Death Penalty by S Jonathan Bass

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2h64vIk.
Bass unearths the heretofore undocumented story of Caliph Washington and his trek through the depths of Jim Crow justice. The complex lives that populate his jailhouse journey from segregation through civil rights braid the movement’s gains and limitations into a red thread tracing the current crisis of race and criminal justice.
Book description from Google Books:
Caliph Washington didn’t pull the trigger but, as Officer James “Cowboy” Clark lay dying, he had no choice but to turn on his heel and run. The year was 1957; Cowboy Clark was white, Caliph Washington was black, and this was the Jim Crow South.As He Calls Me by Lightning painstakingly chronicles, Washington, then a seventeen-year-old simply returning home after a double date, was swiftly arrested, put on trial, and sentenced to death by an all-white jury. The young man endured the horrors of a hellish prison system for thirteen years, a term that included various stints on death row fearing the “lightning” of the electric chair. Twentieth-century legal history is tragically littered with thousands of stories of such judicial cruelty, but S. Jonathan Bass’s account is remarkable in that he has been able to meticulously re-create Washington’s saga, animating a life that was not supposed to matter.Given the familiar paradigm of an African American man being falsely accused of killing a white policeman, it would be all too easy to apply a reductionist view to the story. What makes He Calls Me by Lightning so unusual are a spate of unknown variables–most prominently the fact that Governor George Wallace, nationally infamous for his active advocacy of segregation, did, in fact, save this death row inmate’s life. As we discover, Wallace stayed Washington’s execution not once but more than a dozen times, reflecting a philosophy about the death penalty that has not been perpetuated by his successors.Other details make Washington’s story significant to legal history, not the least of which is that the defendant endured three separate trials and then was held in a county jail for five more years before being convicted of second-degree murder in 1970; this decision was overturned as well, although the charges were never dismissed. Bass’s account is also particularly noteworthy for his evocation of Washington’s native Bessemer, a gritty, industrial city lying only thirteen miles to the east of Birmingham, Alabama, whose singularly fascinating story is frequently overlooked by historians.By rescuing Washington’s unknown life trajectory–along with the stories of his intrepid lawyers, David Hood Jr. and Orzell Billingsley, and Christine Luna, an Italian-American teacher and activist who would become Washington’s bride upon his release–Bass brings to multidimensional life many different strands of the civil rights movement. Devastating and essential, He Calls Me by Lightning demands that we take into account the thousands of lives cast away by systemic racism, and powerfully demonstrates just how much we still do not know.
The book is rated 3.87/5 at goodreads.com, from 52 ratings. See 21 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2h9dWqh.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2ixeF53.

A bio-memoir book recommendation: He Calls Me By Lightning: The Life of Caliph Washington and the forgotten Saga of Jim Crow, Southern Justice, and the Death Penalty by S Jonathan Bass

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2h64vIk.
Bass unearths the heretofore undocumented story of Caliph Washington and his trek through the depths of Jim Crow justice. The complex lives that populate his jailhouse journey from segregation through civil rights braid the movement’s gains and limitations into a red thread tracing the current crisis of race and criminal justice.
Book description from Google Books:
Caliph Washington didn’t pull the trigger but, as Officer James “Cowboy” Clark lay dying, he had no choice but to turn on his heel and run. The year was 1957; Cowboy Clark was white, Caliph Washington was black, and this was the Jim Crow South.As He Calls Me by Lightning painstakingly chronicles, Washington, then a seventeen-year-old simply returning home after a double date, was swiftly arrested, put on trial, and sentenced to death by an all-white jury. The young man endured the horrors of a hellish prison system for thirteen years, a term that included various stints on death row fearing the “lightning” of the electric chair. Twentieth-century legal history is tragically littered with thousands of stories of such judicial cruelty, but S. Jonathan Bass’s account is remarkable in that he has been able to meticulously re-create Washington’s saga, animating a life that was not supposed to matter.Given the familiar paradigm of an African American man being falsely accused of killing a white policeman, it would be all too easy to apply a reductionist view to the story. What makes He Calls Me by Lightning so unusual are a spate of unknown variables–most prominently the fact that Governor George Wallace, nationally infamous for his active advocacy of segregation, did, in fact, save this death row inmate’s life. As we discover, Wallace stayed Washington’s execution not once but more than a dozen times, reflecting a philosophy about the death penalty that has not been perpetuated by his successors.Other details make Washington’s story significant to legal history, not the least of which is that the defendant endured three separate trials and then was held in a county jail for five more years before being convicted of second-degree murder in 1970; this decision was overturned as well, although the charges were never dismissed. Bass’s account is also particularly noteworthy for his evocation of Washington’s native Bessemer, a gritty, industrial city lying only thirteen miles to the east of Birmingham, Alabama, whose singularly fascinating story is frequently overlooked by historians.By rescuing Washington’s unknown life trajectory–along with the stories of his intrepid lawyers, David Hood Jr. and Orzell Billingsley, and Christine Luna, an Italian-American teacher and activist who would become Washington’s bride upon his release–Bass brings to multidimensional life many different strands of the civil rights movement. Devastating and essential, He Calls Me by Lightning demands that we take into account the thousands of lives cast away by systemic racism, and powerfully demonstrates just how much we still do not know.
The book is rated 3.87/5 at goodreads.com, from 52 ratings. See 21 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2h9dWqh.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2ixeF53.