Two reviews of this book appeared recently, and both authors made similar observations: that The Last Lynching in Northern Virginia is instructive for its recounting of a long-ago lynching, but also for how it describes the lingering effects of that incident. As Mark Tooley wrote, the book is a “window into a time that seems like a different universe but is closer than we care to realize.”
Tooley is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, an advocacy group based in Washington, and the author of three books. He wrote about The Last Lynching for his blog on the institute’s website. Tooley describes how he had lunch in Warrenton, then visited the Old Jail Museum, where he bought the book.
Dan Enos is a volunteer in the Virginiana Room at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library in Fredericksburg. His review appeared on the library’s website just prior to my appearance there in April.
I was delighted that both writers liked the book, but I was also impressed with how much time they spent digesting the story and how accurately they described it.
And both also noted the same thing that has motivated me: that Shedrick Thompson was murdered in Fauquier County almost 85 years ago, but that his death is still falsely cast, and for that reason, doubly disturbing.
Fredericksburg, where I live, was the scene of several important Civil War battles, and at The Free Lance-Star newspaper, where I worked, we joked that this may be the only town in America where the Civil War is still breaking news. And so with Thompson’s death: it is still breaking news.
As Enos put it, “The narrative is a portrait of both a dark chapter in local history and of subsequent generations’ struggles to come to terms with the legacy of racism and the evil acts it incited.”