A Lynching at Port Jervis: Race and Reckoning in the Gilded Age


Product Details

$29.00  $26.97
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publish Date
6.34 X 9.37 X 0.92 inches | 0.99 pounds

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About the Author

Philip Dray is the author of several books of American cultural and political history, including At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America, which won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; There Is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America; and Capitol Men: The Story of Reconstruction Through the Lives of the First Black Congressmen. He is an adjunct professor in the Journalism and Design Department at Eugene Lang College. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.


A cleareyed, powerful account . . . riveting . . . the author is diligent and rigorous in his depiction of the racial animosity undergirding the entire ordeal . . . An important historical study of a topic that remains sadly relevant.

Vivid and well-researched . . . An illuminating and distressing look at America's history of racial violence.
--Publishers Weekly

A Lynching at Port Jervis paints a vividly disturbing picture of northern racism in the Gilded Age, reminding readers of the pervasiveness of anti-Black terrorism and its lethal consequences for Black Americans.

"Philip Dray's A Lynching at Port Jervis excavates the details of a rarely discussed 1892 horrific event in the American North, dispelling many of our preconceived notions that lynchings only occurred in the South. Yet what makes Dray even more than a faithful chronicler of this nation's troubling and troubled past--and trust that we do require chroniclers--is his extraordinary, artful storytelling. Dray eases his readers into this difficult history, displaying so much empathy for our eventual, truth-facing moments."
--Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, author of The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

"In this riveting, beautifully written book, Philip Dray shines a spotlight on the forgotten national dimensions of southern barbarism, lynching. He effortlessly weaves the story of a place, a crime, a people, and recovers its broader historical significance. Like his previous work, A Lynching at Port Jervis illustrates the terror of racism as well as the long fight against it. A timely and important book."
--Manisha Sinha, author of The Slave's Cause: A History of Abolition (2016)

"Impassioned and painfully relevant, Philip Dray's A Lynching at Port Jervis probes with gripping precision and deep humanity the hidden, ongoing injuries of the American past."
--Brenda Wineapple, author of The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation

"In this outstanding study of a northern lynching, Philip Dray shows us that the violent practice was/is no southern aberration but lies at the heart of our national culture."
--Paula J. Giddings, author, IDA, A Sword Among Lions, Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching, EA Professor, Emerita, Smith College

"African Americans have been victims of extrajudicial killings since their first arrival on America's shores. Plantation owners murdered their enslaved workers, white southern mobs lynched thousands after Reconstruction and in recent years police killings of African Americans have become shockingly common. In this gripping account of the lynching of Robert Lewis in a small New York town during the Gilded Age, we can observe in devastating detail how ordinary people can engage in the most horrific acts. Guided by Philip Dray's humanity and wisdom, this beautifully written account takes us deep into the politics, ideas and terrifying consequences of northern racism."
--Sven Beckert, Laird Bell Professor of History, Harvard University