Review: Down Along With That Devil’s Bones by Connor O’Neill

own Along With That Devil’s Bones: A Reckoning with Monuments, Memory, and the Legacy of White Supremacy by Connor O’Neill is a book about the Confederate General and first Grand Wizard of the KKK Nathan Bedford Forrest, the monuments that honor him, and one white man’s journey to reckon with the legacy of the Confederacy and White Supremacy. O’Neill has written an amazing book that weaves the biography of Forrest and his impact on the present day very nicely. The book specifically focuses on the campaigns to remove Forrest monuments in four cities: Selma, AL; Murfreesboro, TN; Nashville, TN; and Memphis, TN. O’Neill does a phenomenal job providing the views of supporters and opponents of the removal of the monuments in all four cities. As can be expected some of the four stories end with these structures coming down while others remain standing to this day. O’Neill does a great job in this book showing that the erection of these monuments were more about responding to racial tensions than they were to actually commemorate Southern/Confederate heritage. A recent Southern Poverty Law Center study bears this out using data. As you read this book you will learn that Confederate monuments were used as “palliatives” for Americans to console themselves of the racial changes that were happening in the country at the time of Civil Rights movement and the end of Jim Crow. Near the end of this book O’Neill leaves us with the important question about what happens after the monuments comes down. Readers will learn that bringing down the monument is the easy part, tearing down the “thought monuments” and other structural forces is the hard task that remains. Readers of history and race relations will enjoy this fascinating work.

Thanks to NetGalley, Algonquin Books, and Connor O’Neill for a free ARC copy in exchange for an honest review. This book will be released on September 29, 2020.

Help local booksellers by purchasing Down Along With That Devil’s Bones at Bookshop. Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Bookshop.org and I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

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