Tag Archives: legal history

Loving vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell

Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case by Patricia Hruby Powell. January 31, 2017. Chronicle Books, 260 p. ISBN: 9781452125909.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 720.

From acclaimed author Patricia Hruby Powell comes the story of a landmark civil rights case, told in spare and gorgeous verse. In 1955, in Caroline County, Virginia, amidst segregation and prejudice, injustice and cruelty, two teenagers fell in love. Their life together broke the law, but their determination would change it. Richard and Mildred Loving were at the heart of a Supreme Court case that legalized marriage between races, and a story of the devoted couple who faced discrimination, fought it, and won.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Violence; Mild sexual themes; Racism and racist language

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (November 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 6))
Grades 7-10. Readers meet sixth-grader Mildred Jeter, known to her family as String Bean, walking to school in 1952. Descended from African slaves and Indians, the kids in the Jeter family attend segregated schools, though in their small, racially mixed rural Virginia community, all enjoy music and square dancing together. Richard Loving enters her life as a white friend of her older brothers. As the years go by and Mildred grows up, the couple’s story becomes one of love, courtship, marriage, tribulation, and triumph. The local sheriff hauls them off to jail in 1958 for violating a statute prohibiting interracial marriage. After court battles, the law is overturned in the landmark 1967 Supreme Court decision known as Loving v. Virginia. Written in free verse, Powell’s novel unfolds in a series of concise, evocative first-person narratives alternating between Richard and Mildred. Placing their personal stories within the broader context of the major events of the civil rights movement happening at the time, occasional sections feature archival photos as well as significant quotes. Powell’s thorough research includes 10 interviews. Not seen in final form, Strickland’s expressive illustrations draw on a mid-twentieth-century style. Fine, dramatic storytelling in a memorable verse format.

Kirkus Reviews starred (November 1, 2016)
A powerful and riveting account of an American couple in love when that love was ruled illegal in many American states.In the early 1950s a boy and a girl in rural Virginia fell in love and got married. Her family was “descended / from African slaves. / And their owners.” He was white. Their love was scorned and against the law in their state. The couple, Mildred and Richard Loving, alternate and sometimes join together to tell their stories in beautifully rendered free verse. Love, children, marriage, jail, flight to Washington, D.C., long court battles, and final unanimous vindication in 1967 from the Warren Supreme Court fill the pages, detailing every particle of their strong feelings for each other and the equally strong bigotry of the local sheriff and state judicial system. Full-page photographs of school segregation and civil rights demonstrations clearly set the time frame. Excerpts from court decisions, period headlines, and quotations from Dr. King strengthen the learning curve for readers. Strickland’s blue-, gray-, and yellow-toned illustrations have a strong retro feel and tenderly reinforce the written words. A song of love vs. a cacophony of hate—all in a beautiful model of bookmaking. (timeline, bibliography, credits and sources) (Historical verse fiction. 11-18)

About the Author

Patricia Hruby Powell’s previous book, Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker, won a Sibert Honor for Nonfiction, a Coretta Scott King Honor, and five starred reviews. She lives in Illinois with her husband and tree walker hound, Lil.

Her website is talesforallages.com.

Teacher Resources

The Loving Story from Teaching Tolerance

Loving vs. Virginia Teaching Guide

Around the Web

Loving vs. Virginia on Amazon

Loving vs. Virginia on Goodreads

Loving vs. Virginia on JLG

Loving vs. Virginia Publisher Page

Blood, Bullets, and Bones by Bridget Heos

Blood, Bullets, and Bones: The Story of Forensic Science from Sherlock Holmes to DNA by Bridget Heos. October 4, 2016. Balzer + Bray, 272 p. ISBN: 9780062387622.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Ever since the introduction of DNA testing, forensic science has been in the forefront of the public’s imagination, thanks especially to popular television shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. But forensic analysis has been practiced for thousands of years. Ancient Chinese detectives studied dead bodies for signs of foul play, and in Victorian England, officials used crime scene photography and criminal profiling to investigate the Jack the Ripper murders. In the intervening decades, forensic science has evolved to use the most cutting-edge, innovative techniques and technologies.

In this book, acclaimed author Bridget Heos uses real-life cases to tell the fascinating history of modern forensic science, from the first test for arsenic poisoning to fingerprinting, firearm and blood spatter analysis, DNA evidence, and all the important milestones in between. By turns captivating and shocking, Blood, Bullets, and Bones demonstrates the essential role forensic science has played in our criminal justice system

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Descriptions of violent deaths; Prostitution

 

Reviews

Booklist (September 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 1))
Grades 9-12. Ever heard of the Styrian defense? How about Bertillonage? Heos’ latest covers these and more, examining forensic science from its debatable conception (a 221 BCE ancient Chinese “crime-scene handbook”) to “the dawn of DNA evidence.” Through arsenic poisoning, autopsies, fingerprint evidence, and criminal profiling, Heos sheds light not only on forensic innovations but also forensic imperfections, often embedding research with court cases that are as historically crucial as they are ambiguous. The trial of Sacco and Vanzetti, for example, relied heavily upon two decidedly unreliable elements: eyewitness testimonies and incomplete firearm analysis. Investigators in the Samuel Sheppard case, on the other hand—where blood spatter tests were prominently employed for the first time—were scrutinized for their preferential treatment of a wealthy, white defendant. Punctuated by fascinating photos, a smattering of educational asides, and astute pop-culture references (Dexter, Les Misérables, The Silence of the Lambs), and followed by a glossary of key terms, this is sure to appeal to wannabe FBI agents, budding history buffs, armchair detectives, and everyone in between.

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2016)
Thanks to such popular television shows as Bones and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, forensic science is typically thought of as a modern, cutting-edge dimension of criminal investigation, but this fascinating history reveals that it has been practiced for thousands of years.Two thousand years ago, Chinese coroners determined murder as cause of death through the examination of victims’ bodies. The ancient Chinese also pioneered fingerprint evidence. The first poison test was used in 1751 to prove that Englishwoman Mary Blandy murdered her father with arsenic. Heos adeptly uses many such real-life cases to chronicle the history and evolution of forensic science. England was the first country to require all coroners to be medical doctors, expanding the field of forensic pathology. English investigators also pioneered the use of firearm evidence to solve a 1794 murder. The rises of other investigative methods, such as criminal profiling, DNA analysis, forensic anthropology, and victimology, are examined in the context of such famous investigations as the Jack the Ripper murders, the Sacco and Vanzetti case, and the murder of the Romanovs in 1918. Heos also takes pains to discuss how often DNA analysis has been used to exonerate the wrongfully convicted. Vivid and occasionally gruesome but always engrossing. (photos, glossary, notes, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

About the Author

Bridget Heos is the author of I, Fly, illustrated by Jennifer Plecas, Mustache Baby, illustrated by Joy Ang, and the sequel, Mustache Baby Meets His Match. She has also written more than 80 nonfiction children’s titles, including Stronger Than Steel, with photographs by Andy Comins. The Scientists in the Field  and I, Fly were Junior Library Guild selections, and Mustache Baby has won several state awards. Bridget lives in Kansas City with her husband and four children.

Her website is www.authorbridgetheos.com.

Teacher Resources

Collection of Forensic Science Lesson Plans

Forensic Detectives Activities

Around the Web

Blood, Bullets, and Bones on Amazon

Blood, Bullets, and Bones on JLG

Blood, Bullets, and Bones on Goodreads

 

American Heiress by Jeffrey Toobin

American Heiress: the Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes, and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin. August 2, 2016. Doubleday, 384 p. ISBN: 9780385536714.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile 1110.

On February 4, 1974, Patty Hearst, a sophomore in college and heiress to the Hearst family fortune, was kidnapped by a ragtag group of self-styled revolutionaries calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army. The already sensational story took the first of many incredible twists on April 3, when the group released a tape of Patty saying she had joined the SLA and had adopted the nom de guerre “Tania.”

The weird turns of the tale are truly astonishing—the Hearst family trying to secure Patty’s release by feeding all the people of Oakland and San Francisco for free; the bank security cameras capturing “Tania” wielding a machine gun during a robbery; a cast of characters including everyone from Bill Walton to the Black Panthers to Ronald Reagan to F. Lee Bailey; the largest police shoot-out in American history; the first breaking news event to be broadcast live on television stations across the country; Patty’s year on the lam, running from authorities; and her circus-like trial, filled with theatrical courtroom confrontations and a dramatic last-minute reversal, after which the term “Stockholm syndrome” entered the lexicon.

The saga of Patty Hearst highlighted a decade in which America seemed to be suffering a collective nervous breakdown. Based on more than a hundred interviews and thousands of previously secret documents, American Heiress thrillingly recounts the craziness of the times (there were an average of 1,500 terrorist bombings a year in the early 1970s). Toobin portrays the lunacy of the half-baked radicals of the SLA and the toxic mix of sex, politics, and violence that swept up Patty Hearst and re-creates her melodramatic trial. American Heiress examines the life of a young woman who suffered an unimaginable trauma and then made the stunning decision to join her captors’ crusade.

Or did she?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Racial taunts; Violence; Strong sexual themes; Drugs; Alcohol; Criminal culture

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (July 2016 (Vol. 112, No. 21))
On February 4, 1974, two women and one man burst into the Berkeley, California, apartment that Patricia Hearst, heir to the fortune of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, shared with her fiancé, Steven Weed. They clubbed Weed and dragged a thrashing, screaming, 19-year-old Hearst into the trunk of their car. This was the start of a prolonged, violent, and sometimes absurd cross-country odyssey that led from cramped, filthy safe houses to isolated rural farmhouses. The kidnapping, travels, and trials of Hearst and her “companions” would draw in a variety of willing and unwilling characters, including a radical sports journalist; a greedy, alcoholic, but brilliant defense attorney; and even a high-school baseball player. The saga transfixed the nation as key moments played out on national television, including a horrific shootout and fire in which some of the kidnappers died, and during which Hearst, rebellious and unhappy about her impending marriage, appeared to embrace the cause espoused by her abductors, members of the Symbionese Liberation Army. With access to previously off-limit documents, best-selling Toobin (The Oath, 2012), New Yorker staff writer and senior legal analyst for CNN, has written an outstandingly detailed and insightful account of the Hearst case and its impact.

Library Journal (August 1, 2016)
The bones of Patty Hearst’s story are relatively well known-pampered heiress kidnapped by radicals joins their ranks, famously helping them rob a bank at gunpoint-but as Toobin (The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson) here shows, the details that flesh out the saga of Hearst and the group calling themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) are weirder and more compelling than any work of fiction. For instance, while the group was among the most wanted in America, SLA leader Donald DeFreeze decided to recruit new members by going door to door in San Francisco’s Western Addition Neighborhood. (Not only did no one he spoke to report him to the police, but he actually brought on board people who would turn out to be crucial allies.) The narrative is peppered with appearances by such recognizable names as Jim Jones, Joan Baez, future judge of O.J. Simpson’s criminal trial Lance Ito, and Sara Jane Moore, who would later attempt to assassinate President Gerald Ford. Toobin’s meticulous research is the book’s bedrock, but his flair for dramatic storytelling makes it a pleasure to read. Though the author never states directly whether he believes Hearst’s conversion was real, he provides all of the pieces needed for readers to assemble the puzzle for themselves. VERDICT An essential purchase. Stephanie Klose, Library Journal.

About the Author

Jeffrey Toobin is a staff writer at The New Yorker, senior legal analyst at CNN, and the bestselling author of The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court, The Nine, Too Close to Call, A Vast Conspiracy, The Run of His Life and Opening Arguments. A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, he lives with his family in New York.

His website is www.jeffreytoobin.com.

 

Teacher Resources

American Heiress Discussion Questions

Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst Full HD Documentary

Patty Hearst Case on the FBI’s Famous Cases

Around the Web

American Heiress on Amazon

American Heires on JLG

American Heiress on Goodreads