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Postcards from Lyncherdom

Contemporary Justice Review , Volume 11 (4): 459-462 – Dec 1, 2008


© 2008 Informa plc
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Postcards from Lyncherdom


Without sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America (6th ed.) by J. Allen, Sante Fe, NM, Twin Palms Publishers, 2000, 212 pp., 98 four-color plates, $60 (cloth) This book of picture postcards is stunningly bleak. From cover to cover, Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America leaves the viewer without sanctuary from the banal brutality, the nauseating 'moral sense', as Mark Twain sardonically means the phrase, of those who engaged in lynching in America, then saw it as a Kodak moment worthy of hometown postcards. Beginning with the front cover, the book is a tour of what Twain called 'The United States of Lyncherdom'. The black dustjacket is interrupted first by a narrow, vertical black and white panel of a photograph printed down the length of the cover, off center to the right. From the branch of an oak tree in the courthouse yard in Center, Texas, hangs strange fruit: the long, thin body of a 16-year-old black boy named Lige Daniels. His head thrusts back in the noose, as though he were searching the heavens. His arms, torso, and legs hang straight down, pointing at the tops of the heads of a knot of resolute men who stare stone-faced, not
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