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Wilmington's Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  107 ratings  ·  28 reviews
From Pulitzer Prize winner, David Zucchino, comes a searing account of the Wilmington riot and coup of 1898, an extraordinary event unknown to most Americans.

By the 1890s, Wilmington was North Carolina's largest city and a shining example of a mixed-race community. It was a bustling port city with a burgeoning African American middle class and a Fusionist government of
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 7th 2020 by Atlantic Monthly Press
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Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I first learned of the Wilmington Coup of 1898 when I wrote an English paper on the topic in undergrad. I developed a mild obsession with this historical event because I'm a NC native who grew up in a town 100 miles away from Wilmington and was never taught about the coup in public school. After writing the paper, I read two great novels based on the coup: The Marrow of Tradition by Charles Chesnutt and Cape Fear Rising by Philip Gerard. Wilmington's Lie is the first full length nonfiction ...more
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-history
They didn't want mediation. They didn't want arbitration. They didn't want compromise. They did not value understanding. They showed up armed to peaceful opposition protests and menaced the people that they disagreed with.

They publicly embraced law and order until law and order became an obstacle to achieving their ends. They manufactured outrage on the flimsiest pretexts. They repeated and reprinted lies and innuendo to whip up outrage. They publicly stated that they would pursue their ends by
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is such a powerful and moving examination of a deeply significant but disturbing episode in African American history that it was at times quite painful and difficult to read. To understand the present you need to have an appreciation of the past and this majestic, scholarly but always accessible account of the reasons and motivations of what was in effect a white supremacist armed and illegal seizure of power will undoubtedly help.

In 1898 Wilmington, North Carolina, was one of the most
Tonstant Weader
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Winston Churchill said, “History is written by the victors.” We in the United States know this is too simplistic. After all, the North won the Civil War and the South wrote the history with tales of happily enslaved people who loved their benevolent Scarletts and Melanies. They rewrote their war as a defense of federalism and limited government, not slavery. They erased their concerted domestic terrorism to drive Black people from the voting booth. Of course, if you consider white supremacy the ...more
J Earl
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wilmington's Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy is a thoroughly researched account of the organized mass murders and the subsequent effects of this illegal, immoral, and pure evil strategy.

This book gives as detailed an account as possible of the events of the coup as well as the lies told before, during, and after the murder spree by the whites both in North Carolina and across the country, especially in the south. There will be some who find this to be part of
Bob H
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an important, well-researched and compelling account of the overthrow, by armed force, of a multiracial city government in Wilmington, NC, in November 1898. The author has placed this event in context: it followed years of racist pushback against black and white Republican and Republican-populist (Fusion) elected officials in eastern North Carolina, notably in the then-integrated city of Wilmington. White-supremacist newspapers in North Carolina, notably the Raleigh News & Observer, ...more
I received this as an ARC from the publisher.
This is an excellent study of an often overlooked part of American history, the incident that kicked off the push by white Southerners to reverse the legal and social gains made by African Americans after the Civil War. The idea that a group of people would be able to use armed violence to reverse election results, and also to prevent a segment of the voting population from being heard from for 60 years, was horrific.
The only weak part of the book
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have to admit, I'm actually a little embarrassed that I didn't know most of the events that this book relates before reading it. I'm now very glad that I read this book. These events are n important part of American history, although they are hard to digest and make you wonder about the senselessness of racism and the attitudes that sadly still appear in our modern society.

This is a very well-written work that is not only interesting and factual but emotionally provoking as well. I found as I
Laura Berman
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Although I was a history major in college and studied Reconstruction in several courses, I knew nothing of the Wilmington uprising: an extraordinary "coup" undertaken by white supremacists to restore white control of Wilmington, N.C. by terrorizing the black community and banishing its leaders. David Zucchino, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, brings storytelling chops and a passion for historical accuracy to this horrifying episode of American history, but even an unadorned telling of this ...more
Craig Pearson
Dec 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. This is one of the untold stories, known by the relative few, of the horrible legacy of racism in the US. The Civil War did not end the problems that slavery engendered. This is the story of race riots and the domination of Wilmington by whites who would not give up their percieved superiority over blacks. The characters are unfortunately not very well developed and the wroiting style is somewhat dry.
Edward Sullivan
In this deeply researched, chilling account of white supremacist terrorism, Zucchino unravels decades of myth and propaganda to reveal the realities of the organized plot to completely destroy the black community of Wilmington, North Carolina, and its far-reaching, terrifying implications for the South's brutal Jim Crow era.
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A riveting history of horrific events in Wilmington, NC on November 10th 1898.
Istoria Lit
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wilmington's Lie is a dense history book. So much info about historical figures I never knew existed. Had to Google a few things in American history as I'm new to it. Would recommend to non-fic lovers.
Julia Holloway
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Disturbing. Fascinating. A must read.
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I live in Wilmington and was of course drawn to a history of my new town. I had heard of this coup and knew it involved race, but it was so much more than a violent coup. Zucchino shows us how deliberate the planners of this coup were and the extraordinary lengths they would go to to ensure white rule in Wilmington for a long time. The author also hints at how this coup has contributed to certain strategies that are still being used today to disenfranchise African Americans. I think this is the ...more
Kevin Carter
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Although I lived in Wilmington for three years, I had only known a tiny bit about the years detailed in the book. It’s meticulously researched and well written. The details make history come alive. We can’t really know our present until we understand our past. The book helped me understand how all that ties together.
Perry Ervin
Dec 27, 2019 is currently reading it

Though just getting into the first chapters of the book, I am reminded of "Richmond's Unhealed History." Having grown up in NC in the window of chaos of the 1970s, it's easier for me to see the reality of the denials put forth by many who want to cloak their racism under the 'heritage' heading. Yet, as racism goes, a rose is a rose is a rose.

I look forward to following this book and investigating its sources. I still find myself amazed at how far some white people will go to deny the
Gwen - Chew & Digest Books -
I cannot think of a book that has ever made me want to crawl under the table with shame for being a white person and what my peers have done, past & present, described in this book as painfully as Wilmington's Lie. And let's make it clear, it's not the book or the writing, it's the facts and Zucchino's skill at just laying it all out without really sharing an obvious opinion or judgment of his own.

I feel like giving a copy of this to everyone that I have even a wee inkling of bigotry,
Daisy Dooley
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wilmington's Lie was a difficult and shaming book to read but also a brilliantly written and intensively researched history of the events that occurred in Wilmington, North Carolina, before, during and after the 1898 elections. Wilmington's white supremacists engineered a sustained and deliberate campaign of violence and intimidation, not to mention, election fraud, against the black citizens of Wilmington, in order to bring a halt to any progress following the end of the Civil War. Threatened ...more
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you’re like me and you have a better than average grasp of American history and you think you know just how badly African Americans were treated by white people in the general period we call the “Jim Crow” era, you need to read this book. Zucchino does an outstanding job of pulling together a detailed and forthright account of what happened in Wilmington, NC, in 1898. This is a true account of White Supremacy in perhaps its most undiluted and virulent (post-slavery) form. The ruthless ...more
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Reads like a text book rather than a story, so it's not light reading.

However, there's definitely enough detail to prove that an extremely dark incident/time in our nation's history occurred as Zucchino discovered.

Unfortunately, this record 122 years subsequent to when it happened, was the victim of deep shame. So much so that this may be the most egregiously horrendous societal event that occurred in America. Then again, there are far too many others that we know about already.

The message of
Bill Warden
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the history and learning of what happened. I wasn't super thrilled about the political agenda that encompassed the last 25% of the book.

I'd recommend STOP READING before it gets to the Epilogue.

Feb 20, 2020 rated it liked it
The facts in this book are compelling, but unfortunately, the first half is very dry. The second half is better-written.
Janet Stevens
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A true harrowing account of what happens with racism, what it is, how it manifests over time, and becomes part of the system! It is disturbing yet all need to read!
Jaydee414 slack
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unknown history

Fascinating and relevatory account of yet another white-washed part of US historical race relations. An historical account that reads like a novel.
thoughts coming shortly
Don Healy
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Exceptionally well researched and written, but such a infuriating and disturbing subject, I started to abandon the boat numerous times. Frankly, the Nazis learned from the US.
Rod Zemke
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Well researched account of another piece of America's shameful record in its dealing with race after the Civil War. It would have been nice for the author to explain more fully how this happened at such a late date more perspective of what was happened in other southern states at the same time. The author does an excellent job of making it perfectly clear that there is still widespread attempts to limit the voting rights of blacks that continue through the time of the writing of this book. It ...more
Phil Overeem
rated it it was amazing
Feb 21, 2020
Brenna Rehan
rated it liked it
Dec 29, 2019
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