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Our Town: A Heartland Lynching, a Haunted Town, and the Hidden History of White America
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Our Town: A Heartland Lynching, a Haunted Town, and the Hidden History of White America

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  131 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
The brutal lynching of two young black men in Marion, Indiana, on August 7, 1930, cast a shadow over the town that still lingers. It is only one event in the long and complicated history of race relations in Marion, a history much ignored and considered by many to be best forgotten. But the lynching cannot be forgotten. It is too much a part of the fabric of Marion, too mu ...more
ebook, 512 pages
Published March 21st 2006 by Crown (first published 2006)
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David Mills
Dec 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ned Gillum, if you are reading this (and I hope you are), I want you to know that I have you all figured out. You “set me up” when you lent me a copy of Cynthia Carr’s Our Town and said I might find it “interesting”.

If your are reading this and are not Ned Gillum then bear with me for a moment as I explain. Ned knew that I was moving into 215 East 3rd Street Marion, Indiana. To me this was the site of an available apartment. To Ned and every other long time resident of Grant County this was the
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On August 7, 1930, the courthouse square in Marion, Indiana was the location of one of the most shocking events in the town's history -- the lynching of two young black men who were dragged from the city jail and brutally beaten before being hung from a tree in the square. A third young man escaped being lynched to tell the tale. Because of him, and because of an infamous photo of the scene showing hundreds of perpetrators and spectators viewing the crime, (a photo that was sold by the thousands ...more
Jenny Shipp
Jan 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is very tenderly written. Cynthia Carr has lived in NYC for years and written for the Village Voice. However, she is from Marion, Indiana. This was the site of a famous lynching in 1930. She finds out that her grandfather was in the Klan and wonders if he was part of it. The book describes her journey into her past and the past of Marion, Indiana. she talks to may Klan folks, she talks to the people in her town and is a fine journalist in her seeking out of information. Her voice is ne ...more
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I had heard about this for years as I was growing up. The lynching of two black teenagers. But had never heard all the story, just about the hanging of the three people. I am ashamed to say this happened in my home town. I was outraged that something like this could happen and no one offered to help those poor boys. Cynthia Carr came back to Marion to research this book. She came up against a brick wall when trying to find people to talk about this. Even in the early 2000's no one wanted to talk ...more
Jun 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Picked this one up on a "help yourself" shelf at a bookstore. It has taken me two years to finally get to it. What timing! A long, sometimes tedious story of the lynching of two Afro=Americans in Marion Indiana in 1930----who did it; why? and why relevant today? Lots of detail on the KKK.....and interesting linkages to Milwaukee and its Afro=American Holocaust Museum (did you know that?).What it did though was to release of flood of childhood memories.....things I had not thought about for years ...more
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This for me was a haunting book. I grew up in Wabash, 15 miles or so from Marion. It wasn't until I had left Wabash that I realized the lynching picture that was so often referenced in history, was from Marion, August 1930. The author's beloved Grandfather was a Kan member. This motivates her to learn all she can about the event, to address her greatest fear, that her Grandfather participated in this event. The more she searches for the truth, the more elusive the truth becomes. It also becomes ...more
Jack Heller
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been reading this because I am working on a commemoration of the lynching, working along with the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. A good book. An important book.
May 24, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book touching on race relations between black and white is bound to strike a nerve; I read one review that picked on Ms. Carr for being "me-focused", for patting herself on the back as an enlightened white, for writing too long of a book, for spending too much time with the pathetic white supremacists. Ultimately I enjoyed her narrative and insights into the Klan, which as a PacNWer I had no concept of, as well as her willingness in submerging herself in her home town, county, and state of Ind ...more
David Ward
Feb 22, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Our Town: A Heartland Lynching, A Haunted Town, and the Hidden History of White America by Cynthia Carr (Crown Publishers 2006)(305.89607) is an interesting story of a lynching that took place in Marion, Indiana on the night of August 7, 1930 when three young black men were taken from the jail by a mob following the robbery, murder, and reported rape of a white woman. Interestingly, after two of the men were killed many times over and then hung in the courthouse square, they released the third y ...more
Tamsin Bourgeois
Jul 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meticulously researched over more than a decade, this is a fascinating history of racism in a small town in Indiana, the location of a 1930 lynching (the last to take place in the USA north of the Mason-Dixon Line). While I was not as absorbed by this book as I was by Carr's incredible, perfect biography of David Wojnarowicz, it is a similarly impressive work; epic, forensic and underpinned by a personal-political quest. Carr explores the emotional legacy of the lynching on the town as she faces ...more
Feb 20, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that makes you recoil from what you may see in a mirror.
The famous photo of the lynching in Marion, Indiana led Ms. Carr (a longtime resident of New York and reviewer for the Village Voice) to re-exmine her native town and those people she grew up among.
What she discovered about long-time family acquaintances and even her own family will make you reconsider what you think you know about your home town, who you are and what you think you know.
This book develops slowly and with all
An unforgettable voyage of discovery into the secrets, not just of a family, but of an entire town in Indiana. In this book I learned about the 20s and the current-day KKK (two very different incarnations), the events surrounding a famous lynching and the wildly contradictory narratives people carry with them about it. The author interviewed the man who survived the lynching, eyewitnesses, police, neighbors, ministers, her own family -- you name it. The story gets more confused -- and weirdly, m ...more
Judy Aulik
Marion, Indiana is one of the cities of Indiana considered to have been a modern Klan hotbed. In 1930, two--and nearly three--African-American men were lynched for being suspected in a rape of a white woman. That story alone was riveting. When the 1990s-2000s edition of the Klan was included, I could not believe these attitudes still persisted. Only after the numbers given by an ex-member were revealed did I feel comfortable again.
A must read for small town Americans. This should be required hig
May 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading James Madison's "A Lynching in the Heartland" while in college, I felt compelled to read this followup written by a journalist who was from Marion, Indiana, and might have had family involved in the 1930 lynching. It's a very interesting story of genealogy, family secrets, and race relations in the North.
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I REALLY liked the author's style. It was that style that kept me reading the book, but after a while it felt like a slog - I'm gonna get through this, I'm gonna get through this.
There was just too much stuff about the KKK. I got the picture that they were low-lifes without the added 100 pages that drilled it in.
The good part was the conversation about race - so well written, so well said.
Aug 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carr is a great writer I wish more people would discover. This book is complicated, curious and beautiful -- and her "Fire in the Belly," about artist David Wojnarowicz, might be the best biography I've ever read.
K.A. Krisko
Oct 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history, race relations readers
Although there were sections that included perhaps too much detail, particularly towards the end, this expose and autobiographical revisitation of the author's hometown history merits a solid five stars from me. Unabashed, in your face, painful, and shocking. And relevant still.
Aug 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing tale. I didn't love her style (it sometimes read more like a journal of a journalist than like a compiled thesis based on her research)--but I appreciated her points. It rang true. Worth reading.
Oct 22, 2010 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Interested to read about my hometown of Marion, IN...
Nov 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lukas-books
The narrative drags a little at points, but still an interesting story of how the past demands to be dealt with.
Brad Thompson
Sep 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book. I personally know Cinthia. Im in this book.
Marilyn Litt
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Sarah Koppelkam
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Josh Oliver
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Kathy Kattenburg
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Jun 17, 2012
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