Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Robert Whitaker's "On The Laps of Gods"

Robert Whitaker is the award-winning author of The Mapmaker’s Wife and Mad in America. His manuscript of On the Laps of Gods won the prestigious J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to On the Laps of Gods: The Red Summer of 1919 and the Struggle for Justice That Remade a Nation, and reported the following:
I was quite curious to see what would turn up on page 99 of my book, On the Laps of Gods, and it so happens that this page relates the book's first climatic moment. The first third of the book details the massacre of black sharecroppers in the Mississippi Delta in 1919, and page 99 brings the killing on the first day of the massacre to a close (the killing went on for several days). On page 99, there are several eyewitnesses who recall the killing that went on that day, and perhaps the most powerful testimony comes from one of the white posse members. "During that afternoon," he recalled, "a crowd of men came from Mississippi and began the indiscriminate hunting down, shooting and killing of Negroes. They shot and killed men, women and children without regard to whether they were guilty or innocent of any connection with the killing of anybody, or whether members of the union or not. Negroes were killed time and time again out in the fields picking cotton, harming nobody."

At the very least, I think you could read page 99 of On The Laps of Gods and gain a pretty quick sense of whether this might be a book you would like to read.
Read an excerpt from On The Laps of Gods, and learn more about the author and his work at Robert Whitaker's website.

--Marshal Zeringue