For our readers who recognize the importance of Greg Iles’ “Natchez Burning” and “The Bone Tree,” please know that Stanley Nelson’s book, “Devils Walking” will set your hair on fire.
No wonder the best-selling Iles was so impressed with Nelson’s work that he created the character of Henry Sexton based on him and dedicated “Natchez Burning” to him, “a humble hero.”
I can only absorb the violent shocks in small doses, so I read a couple of chapters each evening from the galley LSU Press sent me in advance of the book’s release in October. I know of no journalist who is brave enough to tackle these Civil Rights era-cold murder cases and who would take on the evil that is the Ku Klux Klan in such a fierce way.
Nelson was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in journalism in 2011.
He will be at Winnsboro Center for the Arts on Saturday, Oct. 8, at 10:30 a.m. for a book signing.
Imagine that. A Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist is coming to our town to talk about the work that has all but consumed his life for almost a decade.
While he’s here, he’s going to speak to some WISD classes. How lucky are our students to hear from someone this distinguished?
The book signing is a free event, with no tickets needed. We have seating for about 100 and are expecting a full house.
I had the pleasure of meeting Nelson in his office at The Concordia Sentinel in Ferriday, LA, on my way to Natchez in 2014. He drove my traveling companion Pat Lawrence and me to some of the sites in his book, including the location of Frank Morris’ shoe shop that was firebombed on Dec. 10, 1964. Morris died four days later from the horrific injuries he received during the blaze.
It was the Morris case that led Stanley to his work on the Klan-related murders along the Mississippi River during the Civil Rights era.
Nelson is as kind and gracious a man as you’ll ever meet, and like so many from that part of the country, he is a born storyteller.
He’ll be signing copies, taking questions from the audience and reading from the book. Copies of the book will be available at Winnsboro Emporium a couple of weeks in advance or you can pick up a copy at the signing.
A lot of things had to fall into place to make this visit possible and I am truly grateful to Conrad Wolfman, Maryann Miller and the arts center for helping to make it happen.
I look for this book to be on every non-fiction list during the next awards cycle. This is important work. I’ll bet a Pulitzer is in Nelson’s future this time around.