The Week (US)

Review of reviews: Books


said Josh Glancy in The Sunday Times (U.K.). “The witness testimony is simply staggering”: Machine guns swept Greenwood’s main avenue. Small planes flew overhead dropping incendiary devices. Some 1,200 homes, commercial buildings, and churches were burned down. The death toll may have reached 300.

In part, The Ground Breaking is about Ellsworth’s “own lifetime of discovery,” said Jennifer Szalai in

The New York Times. He was 12 when he found a newspaper story on microfilm that revealed that “the riot” he’d heard whispered about was real. Here he details how many records were intentiona­lly destroyed, while also spotlighti­ng the many witnesses he spoke with across decades to piece the truth together. Their testimony “makes for sobering reading,” but Ellsworth’s book “also sheds light, and some of it is hopeful.” Thanks in part to his efforts, Tulsa, a city in the reddest of states, is working to locate unmarked mass graves in order to fully come to terms with its past. This, Ellsworth writes, is “something new.”

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