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Unpunished Murder: Massacre at Colfax and the Quest for Justice

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  82 ratings  ·  32 reviews
On Easter Sunday of 1873, just eight years after the Civil War ended, a band of white supremacists marched into Grant Parish, Louisiana, and massacred over one hundred unarmed African Americans. The court case that followed reached the highest court in the land. Yet, following one of the most ghastly incidents of mass murder in American history, not one person was convicte ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 11th 2018 by Scholastic Nonfiction
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3.63  · 
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 ·  82 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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Richie Partington
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Richie’s Picks: UNPUNISHED MURDER: MASSACRE AT COLFAX AND THE QUEST FOR JUSTICE by Lawrence Goldstone, Scholastic Focus, September 2018, 288p., ISBN: 978-1-338-23945-4

“ now appears that not a single colored man was killed until all of them had surrendered to the whites...when over 100 of the unfortunate negroes were brutally shot down in cold blood. It is understood that another lot of negroes was burned to death in the Court-house when it was set on fire.”
--front page of The New York Times
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received a copy of this book a few days ago from the publisher and, having a vacation day, sat down to check it out. I love history, especially Southern history and the Civil War. I studied it in college, as a matter of fact, but nothing prepared me for what I was reading in this book. Mind you, I am aware of the lynchings, and the Tulsa massacre, but really didn't have a lot of details for many of the atrocities.
Lawrence Goldstone's book is excellent in that it covers not only the Massacre a
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arcs, non-fiction
Very interesting and sad to read, Unpunished Murder really sheds light on the racism and division and corruption of the justice system and America that continued after the Civil War. It's important to read a book like this, when many still refer to the Colfax Massacre as a "riot", and I would recommend it. On the back of the book it says Lawrence Goldstone (the author) has written over a dozen books for adults and this is his first for young readers, and I could tell. It was a great and serious ...more
Tonstant Weader
Aug 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Unpunished Murder: Massacre at Colfax and the Quest for Justice is the history of shamefully forgotten crime against humanity that led to an equally shameful Supreme Court decision that should be as vilified as Dred Scott and Plessy vs. Ferguson. On Easter Sunday in 1873 over a hundred unarmed African-Americans were slaughtered by white supremacists determined to end Reconstruction and seize political power. Shamefully, to this day, Colfax, Mississipi has a memorial honoring the murderers.

In the
The repercussions of slavery are being rewritten... to tell the truth, not sugarcoat what happened especially with the despicable acts of plantation owners and politicians alike but also with what happened in our developing nation's court system in which decisions were made against blacks.

Using the backdrop of the Colfax Massacre in which a hundred black people were massacred and no one was punished (and where the history books refer to it as a "riot"), Goldstone backs up to the beginnings of o
Wow, heavy read and right around election season...I can't decide if this book made me more or less depressed about the state of our nation. Sometimes I would read and think "and we rose above this to become who we are today!" and other times I would read and think "dammit, NOTHING has changed!"

Important part of American history that I had never heard about, a horrible incident that became the foundation for how the South got away with "Jim Crow" laws. They didn't just pop up without any help,
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is really a book about history and Constitutional law, framed by the Colfax massacre of 1873. Colfax county in Reconstruction Louisiana was made up largely of African American freed people. Their political power - and general freedom - rankled the white supremacists around them so much that they massacred about 150 people (the number is uncertain) in the Colfax county courthouse on Easter Sunday, falsely claiming that they were overcoming a "riot." While six of the perpetrators were arreste ...more
Stephanie Bange
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Note: Reviewed from an ARC

This is a hard-hitting survey of civil rights in the U.S., from the Constitutional Convention of 1787 to the end of Reconstruction that came with the compromise of Rutherford B. Hayes as President in 1877. The book includes a bibliography; glossary; source notes; photo credits; and index (unseen). Additionally, black & white period photos of people and a few primary source materials break up the text.

In his first book for young readers, historian Goldstone punches
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Below are the many reasons why I liked reading this book:

1. The writing and language itself is clear and concise. The book was originally marketed toward 8-12 year olds. On the scholastic website, it now says that the target audience is 12-18 year olds. In either case, the language itself is clear enough to be understood by either age group. Goldstone makes a point to define any words that may be unknown, with a glossary to aid the writing. Even as an adult, I appreciated the way that his argume
TammyJo Eckhart
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In history classes in middle school and high school we spend a lot of time talking about how great America is and rightly since I'm talking about American classrooms. But rarely do we talk about the truth often very complicated and difficult to discuss. As a historian I've learned to be objective about facts, to evaluate evidence, and to consider the context of the events and people I'm studying or writing about. That skill should begin with the earliest history classes. This book by Lawrence Go ...more
Laura Petrie
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to the @kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.--- Unpunished Murder is a nonfiction book by Lawrence Goldstone that informs about the massacre of about 100 black citizens at Colfax. Surprisingly, even though 9 culprits were identified, all of the white men accused of these crimes were allowed free. This book will be published on August 28, but halfway through reading it I knew I had to save it to my Amazon wishlist. What is most impressive abo ...more
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cybils, ya-nonfiction
This wasn't the easiest book to read for several reasons. First, massacres are never easy to read about because of their appalling nature. Second, justice was never received. And third, the court system allowed the murderers to go free, but basically opened the door to allowing them to treat black Americans however they wanted. Goldstone starts by explaining what happened the day the massacre occurred. He then flashes back to the end of the Civil War and the events that led up to that horrible d ...more
Kathy Martin
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This fascinating story talks about the formation of the United States government via the Constitution and focuses especially on the formation and role of the Supreme Court. It also talks about racism and the role of the Supreme Court in encouraging it.

The focus of the story centers on events in Grant County, Louisiana, in 1873. More than 150 well-armed white men massacred over 100 poorly armed black men - many of whom were trying to surrender. Due to a wide variety of conditions from the woes of
Alexa Hamilton
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, tween
I learned an incredible amount from this book--the prologue gives you the main event, the awful massacre at Colfax, but then we flip back to the beginning of the US to see what pieces of history made this event possible. And it's really shocking. I know I learned about the Civil War and Reconstruction but not like this. Not in a way that really showed how hard it was to stitch this country back together and what insane compromises were made. I saw the way we did things then that are hurting us n ...more
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Unpunished murder: Massacre at Colfax and the quest for justice. By Lawrence Goldstone.

Goldstone has written an unflinching look at race and justice in post-Civil War America. On Easter Sunday in 1873, a group of white supremacists surrounded a church in the central Louisiana town of Colfax and set it on fire with over a hundred formerly enslaved men inside. And when the men came out and threw down their weapons in surrender, they were slaughtered where they stood. Goldman clearly outlines the
American Mensa
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Unpunished Murder is certainly an important book, detailing the experience of black people in the aftermath of emancipation and Reconstruction with focus put on the massacre at Colfax where over a hundred blacks were killed and the ensuing court case that allowed the criminals to go unpunished. Lots of visuals were included, making the book look better but not necessarily adding more. The research behind this book is extremely solid, the author being an academic himself and citing many primary a ...more
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
This reminded me a lot of Eyes of the World: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and the Invention of Modern Photojournalism in that it takes an interesting, personal story and instead makes the historical context the star of the show.

Unpunished Murder gets bogged down in the minutiae of political history and loses sight of the victims. It also inundates readers with names and dates and takes you on unrelated detours about Mark Twain and the Centennial Exposition like it expects you to be smart enough to a
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
During the Reconstruction era, there was an event in Colfax, Louisiana that was called a riot (if you were white) and a massacre (if you were black). Several landmark court cases were a result of this piece of our history that actually helped begin the Jim Crow era. I never heard of this event - and I checked my 8th grade Social Studies textbook at my school and it isn't in there either. And yet, because of this travesty in our history, black rights were set back for another century (or more). A ...more
Melissa Orth
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
An account of a shameful time in American history: the Reconstruction and the horrific massacre of African Americans by a large posse of white men in Colfax, LA. Goldstone carefully lays out the timeline of events leading to the fateful day and follows the trail to thwarted justice as only three of the 100 white murderers are found, tried but not convicted by the Supreme Court. Political corruption, rampant racism, and the narrow interpretation of constitutional law led to the Jim Crow South. Th ...more
Martha Allen godin
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
An important book but it could have been so much better. Goldstone drops readers after the Supreme Court decision. The book would have been much stronger if he had included an Epilogue describing how some of the wrongs described in this book were righted by events/laws of the Civil Rights Movement. And tying the events of this book to the current attempts at voter suppression in the South and elsewhere would have been very timely.
Narain Dubey
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Although not as challenging of a read as I had thought, “Unpunished Murder: Massacre at Colfax and the Quest for Justice” literally changed my life. While I would typically find books about history boring, Goldstone’s masterful storytelling and explanations highlighted for me the root of much of the racism and oppression that is prevalent today. I find myself referencing this book almost daily.
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Engaging and accessible look at a little known facet of our nation’s history. The author wisely weaves explanatory asides into the narrative rather than relying heavily on footnotes. Extensive back matter included. Recommended for middle and high school libraries. Hand to history buffs, particularly those interested in the Reconstruction period.
Julie Daniels
An important subject but this book tackled much broader things than what the title would have you believe. Only a small part of it covered the Colfax massacre. A lot of it was political which makes sense but it was a bit all over the place. I don't know how to review this and I couldn't see an eight year old making it through the entire book. Thanks to Scholastic for the advance copy for review.
Two BookWorms Blog
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Goldstone’s approach to his topic is fascinating. It’s really one of the best history books I’ve read.

For the full review:
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fascinating look at Reconstruction through the lens of a specific incident and its ramifications. Well-written and well-researched. Horrifying to learn the extent that others went to in order to prevent justice. Definitely thought-provoking.
Sandi Ellis
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
An awful lot of political history before "the main event" makes it into the story--probably a niche read for specific kids rather than for the masses.
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Please my review on under C.Wong. Thank you.
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I learned so much from this book. But it is not easy to read, even though it was written for younger readers.
Joe Schrock
Jan 30, 2019 rated it liked it
A good summary of an important but forgotten event in American history. A bit dry but effective in shining light on a lot of dark activities and beliefs in our history.
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"The story of Colfax… is the story of America.” Goldstone says. Unpunished Murder: Massacre at Colfax and the Quest for Justice gives the account of the events, politics and history that lead up to the Colfax Massacre (known as the Colfax Riots by White Southerners) and its impact on America. Starting with the American Constitution’s inception, Goldstone details the events that resulted in the Massacre of more than 100 unarmed black US citizens, their unpunished murders, and the free rein of vio ...more
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Lawrence Goldstone is the author of fourteen books of both fiction and non-fiction. Six of those books were co-authored with his wife, Nancy, but they now write separately to save what is left of their dishes.
Goldstone's articles, reviews, and opinion pieces have appeared in, among other publications, the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, Hartford Courant, and Berkshi