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Rising Road: A True Tale of Love, Race, and Religion in America

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  86 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
It was among the most notorious criminal cases of its day. On August 11, 1921, in Birmingham, Alabama, a Methodist minister named Edwin Stephenson shot and killed a Catholic priest, James Coyle, in broad daylight and in front of numerous witnesses. The killer's motive? The priest had married Stephenson's eighteen-year-old daughter Ruth to Pedro Gussman, a Puerto Rican migr ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published February 16th 2010 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published February 16th 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Koren
Nov 21, 2016 Koren rated it liked it
Shelves: true-crime
This book deals with bigotry on two levels. The daughter weds a Catholic Puerto Rican in the 1920's. They live in Alabama and she is a Protestant so she violates two taboos. The father shoots and kills the minister who married the couple.

The author goes to great lengths to explore the mind set of the people in the time and place. That is the first half of the book. The second half is mostly the trial, which I thought was very tedious, but if you like the courtroom drama you may like it. The end
...more
Anthony
May 01, 2013 Anthony rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Herman Groman, Joe Williams,FatherTom ,joan
Recommended to Anthony by: John Wills
Shelves: history, non-fiction
May 5, 2013

A Review of Sharon Davies “Rising Road”
By Anthony T. Riggio

I thought I knew and understood about prejudice and this book brought to the forefront of my thinking how small people’s thought process was and sadly still is. Rising Road is both a story and a legal dissection of an incredible case that occurred in Birmingham Alabama in the early 1920’s.

As both a lawyer and a retired FBI Agent, I had always feared being assigned to the Deep South, somehow my name just didn’t fit in and my s
...more
Denise Spooner
Jul 15, 2012 Denise Spooner rated it liked it
Most Americans think of Color-based racism when they think about discrimination in American history. Sharon Davis' history focuses on a form of discrimination that has been just as pervasive across the nation's history: anti-Cstholic prejudice. In many parts of the country it was far more common than color-based discrimination, particularly anti-black activities largely because there were larger populations of Catholics than African Americans or Latinos. That was the case in Iowa where I was bor ...more
Brenda Harris
Aug 05, 2013 Brenda Harris rated it liked it
I would have rated this book 5 stars if the first half had been as well-written as the second half, which compelled me to read, read, read to the conclusion. I'm glad that I waded through the confusing details and back-and-forth time sequences and repetitions earlier in the book to get to the trial, which clearly showed the hatred and prejudice so prevalent in 1920s era Birmingham. As a long-time resident of the Birmingham area, I was as shocked and deeply saddened by the murder of Father James ...more
Kristen
May 02, 2010 Kristen rated it really liked it
As a resident of Birmingham, Alabama, I was interested in reading Rising Road because I was completely unfamiliar with the events that inspired it. I knew about the anti-Catholic agenda of the second wave of the Klan, and Birmingham's racial tensions at the time, but I had never heard of about the death of Father Coyle or the trial of Rev. Stephenson.

I was remarkably impressed by how well done this book is. Copiously researched, but accessible and interesting to a broad range of readers, Davies
...more
Leslie
Jul 06, 2012 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full disclosure: Sharon Davies is the executive director of the organization where I work. But she wasn't when I read this book, so I think that helps with my recommendation.

Davies found an amazing story while she was researching a law journal article, and she proceeded to do a good and thorough job with this nearly forgotten moment in American history.

In 1920/21, in Birmingham, Alabama, an itinerant white Methodist minister shot and killed a Catholic priest. the priest had performed the marria
...more
Leslie
Jul 06, 2012 Leslie rated it really liked it
Full disclosure: Sharon Davies is the executive director of the organization where I work. But she wasn't when I read this book, so I think that helps with my recommendation.

Davies found an amazing story while she was researching a law journal article, and she proceeded to do a good and thorough job with this nearly forgotten moment in American history.

In 1920/21, in Birmingham, Alabama, an itinerant white Methodist minister shot and killed a Catholic priest. the priest had performed the marria
...more
Madoline
Mar 04, 2014 Madoline rated it it was amazing
Davies' well researched narrative examines rampant anti-Catholicism in Birmingham and throughout the country in the early 1920s through the lens of a murder case that is so bizarre it reads like fiction. For every person, place or issue she introduces, Davies examines its historical context, shedding light on Hugo Black, the Klu Klux Klan, racial issues, Birmingham's history and so much more. My only critique is that a subtitle of "A True Tale of Hatred, Race, and Religion in America" would have ...more
Leslie
Sep 18, 2010 Leslie rated it it was amazing
A true-crime portait of Birmingham, Alabama, in the 1920s. A Catholic priest, Fr. James Coyle, is gunned down in broad daylight by a Methodist minister in front of the St. Paul's rectory in downtown Birmingham. His motive? Fr. Coyle had married Rev. Stephenson's eighteen year-old daughter to a Catholic Puerto-Rican, a double insult where white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant culture dominated the Bible Belt. Author Davies shows how Ruth Stephenson's overprotective, overbearing parents drove her into the ...more
Cody VC
Nov 28, 2012 Cody VC rated it it was ok
i didn't actually finish this - only got about 90 pages in and ended up returning it to the slush pile - but will rate it anyway because: what kind of self-respecting historian writes a book where internal thoughts and emotions are attributed willy-nilly without any, you know, sources apparent? no diaries, newspaper quotes, interviews, etc. this is one of the worst kinds of presentism, in my book.

the writing itself is fine and readable, but so basically flawed (see above) that i could not contin
...more
Mike
May 29, 2010 Mike rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Wow! I gave this book two stars because it was not an entertaining read. Most of the time I was upset at how the judge, lawyers, and just about everyone was prejudiced. I suppose that was normal in Birmingham in 1921 but not today (I think). So it is difficult for most of us today to condone the actions of that time. I will admit that the author did a marvelous job in her research. She included much detail about the history and background of the times. Though I gave the book two stars, it should ...more
Kristen
Feb 26, 2013 Kristen rated it really liked it
An interesting narrative of the murder of Father James Croyle - the highest ranking Catholic priest in north Alabama. Father Croyle was gunned down in 1921 after performing a Catholic wedding ceremony for a Puerto Rican immigrant and a newly confverted woman whose father was a perceived leader of the KKK. The book describes racial attitudes of the time as well as perceived threats Protestants had of the Catholic church.
Tracy
Jan 26, 2012 Tracy rated it it was amazing
I learned so much from this book about the early 20th century in the US South. I was very surprised to read about the level of religious intolerance. I was also stunned by the co-option of the court system by the political process. Interestingly, several themes from the book are relevant in society today. I especially appreciated the amount of detailed research the author engaged in to paint a picture of this story.
Kristy
Oct 19, 2011 Kristy rated it liked it
Shelves: true-crime
I almost quit reading this book because the first 100 or so pages were extremely boring. If the whole book had been like the second half, I would have given it four stars. The crime and the court drama that followed were really interesting. I had no idea that the country was so anti-Catholic back in the early 1900s.
Hortensia
I reviewed this online, so won't repeat myself here, but the book is pretty good. A popular read, a page-turner, and a good short exploration of white supremacy and the way religion was used to shore up white supremacist ideology. Does not probe religion very deeply, but very much a good court room drama.
David Szatkowski
Mar 27, 2014 David Szatkowski rated it really liked it
This easy, fast passed read speeds you through one of the darkest times in the American South - the Jim Crow era where prejudice was acceptable and even celebrated. The book follows the murder and trial of a man accused of murder in Birmingham. Well worth the read.
Kathy
Apr 24, 2010 Kathy rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I got interested in this book when I saw a review in the Columbus Dispatch. Davies is a professor at OSU in Criminal Law, and researched this book on the murder of a Catholic priest. The odd thing was that a minister shot him and never served time. How could that be? It was the 1920's.
Tracy
Jan 05, 2011 Tracy rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle
Great book for lovers of history and true crime! Meticulously well researched portrait of the murder of a Catholic priest in Birmingham by a Protestant minister in the early 1900's. The sociological and political history fascinates as well.
Trinity. Cristin
Jun 09, 2012 Trinity. Cristin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent account of anti-Catholic persecution by K.K.K. Politicians and citizens in Alabama. I didn't know this occurred.
Guy
May 03, 2011 Guy rated it liked it
Well written historical non-fiction piece that describes the bigotry against the Catholic church in the South during the 1920s.
Meghan
Meghan rated it did not like it
Mar 10, 2011
Lindabava
Lindabava rated it really liked it
Dec 07, 2010
Carmella
Carmella rated it really liked it
Jun 20, 2011
Rock
Rock rated it liked it
Nov 22, 2011
Vicki
Vicki rated it it was amazing
Jan 12, 2012
Robert E Arsenault JR.
Robert E Arsenault JR. rated it it was amazing
Nov 29, 2014
Michael
Michael rated it really liked it
Apr 13, 2012
Lindsey
Lindsey rated it really liked it
Aug 17, 2014
Eileen
Nov 29, 2013 Eileen rated it really liked it
Very interesting and true story of a murder, religious bigotry,and a sensational trial.
Rae
Rae rated it liked it
Aug 23, 2015
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