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Bending Toward Justice: The Birmingham Church Bombing that Changed the Course of Civil Rights

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  167 ratings  ·  45 reviews
The story of the decades-long fight to bring justice to the victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, culminating in Sen. Doug Jones' prosecution of the last living bombers.

On September 15, 1963, the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed. The blast killed four young girls and injured twenty-two others. The FBI suspected four particularly
ebook, 400 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by All Points Books
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Start your review of Bending Toward Justice: The Birmingham Church Bombing that Changed the Course of Civil Rights
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Doug Jones served as a prosecutor & defense attorney,
Alabama's Asst Attorney General & US Attorney for
Birmingham. He obtained murder convictions on 2
of 3 KKK perps who bombed the Birmingham Baptist
Church in 1963. In December 2017 he defeated contro-
versial Roy Moore for a US Senate seat.

4 black girls (1 aged 11 & the rest 14) were murdered when
a KKK planted bomb destroyed the back of Birmingham's
16th Street Baptist church. The bomb left a hole 5.5 feet
long + 2 feet deep. The
Bob H
The story is a compelling one: the 1963 murder, by bombing, of four little African-American girls in their Birmingham church. This is Doug Jones' personal account of his prosecution, in 2001 and 2002 as U.S. Attorney in Alabama, of the last two defendants. This book centers on the crime, the tumultuous period of civil rights conflict in those early years, and, further on, the long-delayed investigation and trial.

This book is an "as told to" account, understandably, since Doug Jones is, as of
Carly Friedman
4.5 stars. Full review coming soon.
Deb Stern
I have to be honest, I could only stomach half of this book. I am glad Senator Jones has gotten all the details of this awful event recorded for generations to come. However, the subject matter is so sickening, it has put me in a very bad mood. I did not grow up in the south, so I only knew the surface of racism. I was clueless to the ugliness of racism taken to extremes. I think Senator Jones is to be commended for growing into a free thinking adult, and not letting the poison of his hometown ...more
Andy Miller
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Doug Jones was the prosecutor who convicted two of the Klansman for their bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham Alabama, murdering four girls getting ready for Sunday School. The bombing was in 1963, his first prosecution was 37 years later, the second prosecution after that.
I admire Jones, in both his book and in the trials, for keeping focus on the four murdered girls; Carole Robertson, Addie May Collins, Cynthia Morris Wesley, and Carol Denise McNair. Like any good
Part memoir of a new senator, part true crime on the investigation and prosecution of the bombers responsible for the 16th St Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, AL in 1963, and part political analysis/commentary, Jones' book is an interesting examination of both then and now in Alabama with larger national implications. Despite learning about the bombing as a child in Alabama history, this book made me realize how very little I truly know about the events or the eventually prosecutions. This ...more
Disappointing book about the trials of the church bombings in Alabama that happened in the 1960s and was successfully prosecuted only recently. Senator Doug Jones was the Attorney General at the time. The problem isn’t the topic but how the book was written. Doug Jones was not the only writer on board but the book reads like a transcript from a tape recorder and about as interesting. Maybe a good writer will shore up this story so that it is easy to comprehend and read well. Seemed more like a ...more
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 1963 four madmen blew up a church in Birmingham Alabama killing four girls. I was nine and remember it well although I did not understand the antecedents and repercussions of the deed. This book will fill in those blanks. It tells the sad story and chronicles the Herculean efforts to finally bring these men to justice.

The book is gripping, informational, fascinating and exacting. You also get a great feel for what the 1960 in the deep South was really like. However, It was wordy and overly
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just read it.
Jeremy Woods
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great history of a terrible case

Alabama Senator Doug Jones helped to prosecute two of the bombers of the Birmingham 16th Street Church in 1963. While it took nearly 40 years, his team was able to bring justice for the 4 girls kilos that day. This book is part personal memoir and part legal history. It shows that homegrown terrorism is not new in this country, but also that good people can defeat evil. Great book!
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I Liked:
- fairly easy to read
- it goes beyond just the trials, Jones talks about his early life and his life after the bombing trials
- not super long

What I Wasn’t A Fan Of:
- although I enjoyed the parts about things outside of the trials, the book was completely marketed as the story of the trials so I feel it was a little misleading to not market it as more of a memoir about Jones’ career that was mostly focused on the trials rather than a history book about just the bombing and trials
- I
Senator Doug Jones' memoir is not always an easy or pleasant read. He takes us deep into the hearts and lives of Bobby Frank Cherry and Tom Blanton, the two KKK members whom he successfully prosecuted for their roles in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing that killed Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, and Carole Robertson.

We see a lot about the racial politics of the 1960s, in which all four perpetrators were set free by a white jury, and how those politics had not changed
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wendy by: Goodreads Giveaway
Shelves: history
Set in the volatile atmosphere of Birmingham Alabama sparked by change with a 1954 Supreme Court ruling on the unconstitutional precedent of black and white separate schools, “Bending Towards Justice” follows the racial anxiety and unrest that finally burst with the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963 that killed 4 young black girls. Reopening the case years later, Alabama Attorney General William Baxley sought justice for the murdered girls with the conviction of Klu Klux Klan suspect ...more
Michelle Adamo #emptynestreader
"Bending Toward Justice" is a detailed, yet highly readable account of the the righting of a terrible wrong. An untoward miscarriage of justice reflected in our nations tragic history of racism. The crime: the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL caused the death of 4 innocent little girls and the injury of 22 others. The perpetrators were believed to be local members of the Ku Klux Klan who were unhappy about, among other things, the upcoming integration of the City’ ...more
Lesley  Parker
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Doug Jones tells the story of his prosecution of two of the KKK men who, on September 15, 1963, were responsible for the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, with resulted in the murder of four young girls and the injury of more than twenty other people. In 2018, Doug Jones was elected by the people of Alabama to represent the state in the United States Senate. In this book, he also tells that story, as well as that of his childhood and family life.

I found this book

Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Doug Jones was the Attorney General who prosecuted the remaining bombers decades after they ) the bomb that killed four girls at church, and seriously wounded a fifth. This is the story of that prosecution in the context of racism that facilitated the attack. It moved me to tears at times. It's not uniformly gripping, and I lost track of the many people he talks about, but I really liked it (and you can always skim). Jones is also good on the need for Democrats not to write off the South as just ...more
Oct 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s extraordinary how a book about compelling issues and moments could be written about in such a boring manner.
Also it was incredibly annoying to here him repeatedly misunderstand the concept of justice delayed is justice denied. This sentiment is that every moment we delay there are true moments of inequality that forever shape people’s lives. Every student who went through another year in segregated schools that were woefully underfunded was denied justice (and in our still segregated
Sharon Griffitts
When the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church happened in 1963 I was the same age as two of those girls- fourteen. In fact they were born the same month as I was - April. At the time it was a horrible thing which I did not understand how or why anyone could do such a thing.

By the time of the trials I was living in Alabama and had a better idea of the why and how. When I read Doug Jones was presenting his book in Birmingham in that very church I knew I had to be there. It was an informative
Brandi Harper
Sep 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed *most* of this book. I definitely recommend the first 12 chapters to everyone! He goes into great detail about the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL and the delayed prosecutions of the perpetrators. His story-telling is really engaging. After that, he veers hard left (pun intended) into politics which is maybe not for everyone. I like him for the most part but disagree with him on a few things which is fine. My issue with this political part is that he ...more
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This isn't bad for a "I want to be President" book, but it's really two stories - one about the role Doug Jones played in prosecution of the Church Bombing, and another about his campaign bid as Senator (and laying out his politics in a manner reminiscent of all potential presidential/vice presidential books). It was carefully written to make no enemies (full of praise for individuals involved except for the suspects and some of the less palatable witnesses), along with talking about being "good ...more
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Justice At Last

Such a powerful story of how important justice is no matter how long it may take. Victims, their families and their communities deserve it. Totally relevant to our current state of affairs in this country. Doug Jones’ commitment, loyalty to his community and the girls’ families is truly inspirational. The book does a great job of detailing the climate of Birmingham in Jim Crow Alabama as well as modern day. I could’ve done with a little less of the political journey portion of
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding!!!! In depth accounting of the trials of the Klan members who were responsible for the bombing of the 16th St. Baptist Church which resulted in the murders of four young girls. The author, Senator Doug Jones was responsible for the conviction of two of the three murderers. Woven into the narrative are descriptions of the trials, the history of the civil rights movement and the desegregation of school In Alabama and their influences that led to the deaths of the young girls. Although ...more
Ph. D.
Dec 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I finished this book several days ago and I'm still thinking about it. That's a pretty good criterion for a successful read.

To Doug Jones and his team of investigators: Thank you for your tenacity, courage, and passion.

To African-Americans who have been denied justice for centuries: We will stand together for you and for all victims of oppression, everywhere.

To the families of the four victims: May God bring you healing and peace.

To Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins and
Kristen Mcknight
While I learned a lot about the tragic history of the killing by the KKK of 4 young girls at a church in Birmingham, AL in 1963, the book was (for me anyway) more of a research project for the author. It was heavy in details that seemed to be repeated from one chapter to the next. I skimmed through much of the second half of the book.
I would not recommend it unless someone wanted a thorough history of this church bombing or was doing research on the subject.
Mary Entriken
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Doug Jones is a dedicated public servant who believes in “justice for all”. He explains in detail the search for the KKK members of who bombed the Baptist church in Birmingham in 1963. It took years to finally have enough evidence to try and convict the 4 men who were responsible for this hate-filled crime. Jones gives the reader insight into the legal struggles the black communities face in the south.
An important read. I think everyone would benefit from reading this book.
Jennifer Hawes
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sen. Doug Jones offers a fascinating insider look at prosecuting two of the three KKK members convicted for involvement in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in 1963. Unlike many books by national political figures, Jones avoids falling into self-congratulations and instead does a fine job of explaining the racial-political climate of Birmingham at the time, then following the long slog of time that passes before the victims' families see any justice.
Phil Hardin
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great book. The determination of lawyer Doug Jones to bring justice to the despicable church bombing crime thirty nine years later is amazing and most commendable.
It is truly a shame that hatred toward a certain race can result in such terrible acts which are a most embarrassing part of our country’s history.
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Doug Jones is a US Senator who has made finding common ground a hallmark of his tenure. In 2017, he became the first Democrat to win a Senate election in Alabama since 1992. As U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama from 1997 to 2001, Jones prosecuted two former Ku Klux Klan members for their roles in the racially-motivated 1963 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing that took the lives of ...more