Monday, June 16, 2014

Book Review: Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story by Timothy B. Tyson, read by Robertson Dean

In 1970, 10-year-old Tim Tyson was told by a neighborhood friend, "Daddy and Roger and 'em shot 'em a nigger." Civil Rights had come late to the small town of Oxford, North Carolina, north of Durham. And when 23-year-old African-American Henry Marrow supposedly said something unsavory at a store to the daughter-in-law of the owner, Robert Teel, Teel and his sons killed him (after beating him of course.) And they got off, despite multiple witnesses and long criminal records. The injustice inflamed the town, and riots started the night of the murder.

For a young white boy, the son of a liberal local minister, the events of that year were earth-shattering. In fact, Tyson's family moved to Wilmington shortly afterward to get away from the racism. But Oxford proved a magnet for Tyson, drawing him back every summer in school, and later as a history student on a quest for the truth. Part memoir, part history, all truth, Blood Done Sign My Name is a harrowing but very personal tale of the racism pervasive throughout the South and its aftermath. The audio book was well done. As usual, I wished it mentioned dates more (a problem I often have with audiobooks that I do not have in print, I think it's just a quirk of how I process information.) And partly that was because I was having a little trouble reconciling how late this happened, as it sounded like an incident from a decade or two earlier. The deep resonating voice of the narrator could have been a tad more Southern, but I was glad they didn't go the other way and choose someone with a real corn-pone accent. He was easy to listen to and it was easy to tell when people were talking in dialogue.

I bought this book from Audible.com.

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