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ande
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#12: Sign on for justice! Live interview with David Rose about The Big Eddy Club, at NOON, TUES. 3/4

[ Edited ]

Dear Book Explorers:

I hope by now you trust me when I say something is worthy of your attention. On Tuesday March 4th at noon I will be doing a live interview with award-winning Vanity Fair reporter David Rose, the author of The Big Eddy Club, an investigative expose of race, injustice, and serial murder in the Deep South.

Over the course of eight bloody months in the 1970s, a serial rapist and murderer terrorized Columbus, Georgia, killing seven elderly white women by strangling them in their beds. In 1986, eight years after the last murder, an African American, Carlton Gary, was convicted and sentenced to death. Though many in the city doubt his guilt, he remains on death row.

David Rose has followed this case for a decade in an investigation that led him to the Big Eddy Club—an all-white, members-only club in Columbus, frequented by the town's most prominent judges and lawyers . . . as well as most of the seven murdered women.

The Big Eddy Club is a gripping, revealing drama, full of evocatively drawn characters, insidious institutions, and the extraordinary connections that bind past and present. The book is also a compelling, accessible, and timely exploration of race and criminal justice, not just in the context of the South but in the entire United States, as it addresses the corruption of due process as a tool of racial oppression.

As you know by now, I am the editorial director of the Literary Ventures Fund. We have put our support behind this book to make sure that it finds the largest possible audience. Carlton Gary's attorneys have told us that this added spotlight may make a difference. But no need to take just my word for it -- see the list of impressive reviews, below. And please join us at noon on Tuesday, March 4. David will check in afterwards and will answer your posts all week and for as long as the discussion goes on.

Thanks to all,

Ande

"A gripping and brilliant piece of reporting that both lays bare an appalling miscarriage of justice and exposes its origins in the tortured history of the South."

—Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking

"A compelling legal drama and expose of racism in the justice system... a convincing case of separate but unequal justice for blacks and whites."

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Rose spent 10 years reporting this case, and his meticulous analysis is devastating... Rose's writing is persuasive and assured."

San Francisco Chronicle

"Its story is compelling. Questions raised beg for answers. It paints a picture of our town's loss of innocence."

Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

"We see from time to time in this country conversations here and there about the death penalty, about those who sit on death row, about miscarriages of justice, about the way the death penalty system is applied in a racist and unfair way. But every now and then, we come across a story that kind of wraps all that together, and that's what 'The Big Eddy Club' is all about... David Rose, thank you for your wonderful investigative journalism."

Tavis Smiley, PBS

"An engrossing blend of true crime, legal drama and acute exposé of racial antagonism... a compelling indictment of justice gone awry."

Publishers' Weekly
 


Message Edited by ande on 03-03-2008 01:40 PM
Melissa_W
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Where is the interview?

Ande, I'm going to be a bit obtuse here, but where are you doing the live interview?
 
Is it just going to be here on the board and you'll just answer questions back and forth?
(I think I have a meeting tomorrow :smileysad: but it might turn into a conference call instead - those I can do from my office!)
Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
balletbookworm.blogspot.com
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ande
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Re: Where is the interview?

Yes, thanks for asking. The interview will be here on the board. I'll ask the questions and David will answer them back and forth. I'll keep the thread on the board for as long as there is interest so that people can post additonal questions or comments and David can reply.
 
Ande
 
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David_Rose
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Re: Where is the interview?

Hi - I look forward to answering lots of questions - David Rose


Learn more about The Big Eddy Club.
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David_Rose
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Re: Where is the interview?

Hello - I am online.


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ande
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Welcome, David Rose, author of The Big Eddy Club

David:
Thanks so much for joining us at the Literary Ventures Fund's Book Explorer Club on bn.com. The Big Eddy Club is a great read and illuminates an issue that is in the news these days -- the death penalty and fair and equitable justice for everyone. I believe you are in London right now, where you live -- is that right?
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David_Rose
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Re: Welcome, David Rose, author of The Big Eddy Club

Actually I am in Oxford.


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ande
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Re: Welcome, David Rose, author of The Big Eddy Club

Oxford -- even better.
So, tell, us David. How is it that you, a Brit, became so interested in this case of American injustice?
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David_Rose
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Re: Welcome, David Rose, author of The Big Eddy Club

I have written about miscarriages of justice in the UK for many years - in 1992, for example, Bloomsbury published my book A Climate of Fear about the case of the Tottenham Three, three black men wrongly convicted of murdering a cop in a London race riot. (I dug up the evidence that proved they were innocent and led to their convicitons being reversed.)

In 1995, Georgia executed a brit, Nicholas Ingram. That case shocked me in several respects, and the following year I persuaded the Observer, the UK Sunday paper for which I was then crime and legal editor, to send me there for a couple of weeks to write a big feature piece. That led me to Columbus... and before long, to the case of Carlton Gary and the stocking stranglings, the subject (or part subject) of the Big Eddy Club.


Learn more about The Big Eddy Club.
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ande
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Re: Welcome, David Rose, author of The Big Eddy Club

I believe you have followed Carlton Gary's case for around a decade, is that right?
Note to Book Explorers: if you haven't read The Big Eddy Club a short summary of this case is in the first post in this thread.
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David_Rose
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Re: Welcome, David Rose, author of The Big Eddy Club

Yes.


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Re: Welcome, David Rose, author of The Big Eddy Club

I know when I read the book I was outraged by what seemed like such obvious evidence that Carlton Gary is most likely innocent. Explain briefly the racial climate in Columbus, Georgia and the role local institutions like the Big Eddy Club play.
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David_Rose
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Re: Welcome, David Rose, author of The Big Eddy Club

The Big Eddy Club is an elite institution - limited to 475 families - that until 2006 was all-white. Indeed, even black members' guests were very unusual 22 years ago, when gary was tried. It so happens that five of the seven victims of Columus's serial killer, the stocking strangler, were members of this club or frequent visitors, as were wll the main white officials - the police chief, the DA, the judge, etc etc - involved with is prosecution. I don't suggest that the club played a fuinctional role in the case per se, but it does symbolise the traditional state of race relations in Columbus.

As to what that was and is: it's a huge question, that takes up a large part of the book. I also think the situation is changing: slowly, attitudes are changing. But the short reply is that Columbus (pop. a little under 200,000) is an old, conservative place (one third African-American) with quite a dark and sometimes bloody history of racism, from pre-Civil War times onward. Jim Crow, lynching and the Klan all made their presence felt, and the book tries to illuminate some of the continuities between those times and the ere of Gary's trial. Some of the connections are very direct.


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JacobElliott
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Re: Welcome, David Rose, author of The Big Eddy Club

This is the most compelling read. I have long researched miscarriages of justice in the UK - as an academic - and I think that this book pulls together all of the key debates in the academic literature. I have recommended it to all of my academic colleagues, as well as to criminal justice agents. This has lessons for police, prosecutors and judges across the world, as well as for members of the public who may find themselves serving on juries. However, it has particular resonance for those living in jurisdictions which retain the death penalty - most notably, in this instance, the US. The number of exonertions in the US continues to rise and public opinion polls show that people are becoming more and more aware of the sheer number of innocent men sitting on the death rows around the US. Indeed, the spectre of innocent men being executed will probably ultimately lead to abolition. This book will help to persuade many more of the desirability of abolition in a country where the criminal process is still not adequately delivering due process. It should be required reading for all of those who make the decisions which eventually condemn people to decades enduring intollerable conditions on death row and finally to a sometimes painful (and certainly cruel and unusual) death. I highly recommend this book to all.
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ande
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Re: Welcome, David Rose, author of The Big Eddy Club

I'm sure many are curious about why DNA testing didn't rule Mr. Gary in or out. Tell us about the original samples and your efforts to procure new samples.
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Re: Welcome, David Rose, author of The Big Eddy Club

Thank you for that comment, JacobElliott. Aside from David's masterful reporting and telling of the tale, the focus on the issue of the death penalty is what convinced us at the Literary Ventures Fund to support this book.
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Re: Welcome, David Rose, author of The Big Eddy Club

Thanks, Jacob.


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David_Rose
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Re: Welcome, David Rose, author of The Big Eddy Club

DNA testing has not been possible, because according to the state, the crime scene semen samples have been destroyed as a "biohazard". However, lab notes - which weren't produced at the trial - indicate that the killer was a "non-secretor," ie he did not produce the blood group marker chemical (or antigen) in his semen or other fluids. Gary is a strong group O secretor, so appears to be excluded on this basis.


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Re: Welcome, David Rose, author of The Big Eddy Club

I should add that the federal judge who had the case at the time wouuldn't permit a test of Gary's semen, so I had to smuggle some out of death row. I cross matched it with hair he plucked in front of me to prove it was his, and a lab in California shopwed he is a secretor. The courts have so far refused to accept this evidence.


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ande
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Re: Welcome, David Rose, author of The Big Eddy Club

Did you help get new samples from Mr. Gary out of prison?