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Flames after MidnightFlames after Midnight

Murder, Vengeance, and the Desolation of a Texas Community, Revised Edition

Monte Akers


Book published by University of Texas Press


What happened in Kirven, Texas, in May 1922, has been forgotten by the outside world. It was a coworker's whispered words, "Kirven is where they burned the [Negroes]," that set Monte Akers to work at discovering the true story behind a young white woman's brutal murder and the burning alive of three black men who were almost certainly innocent of it. This was followed by a month-long reign of terror as white men killed blacks while local authorities concealed the real identity of the white probable murderers and allowed them to go free.

Writing nonfiction with the skill of a novelist, Akers paints a vivid portrait of a community desolated by race hatred and its own refusal to face hard truths. He sets this tragedy within the story of a region prospering from an oil boom but plagued by lawlessness, and traces the lynching's repercussions down the decades to the present day. In the new epilogue, Akers adds details that have come to light as a result of the book's publication, including an eyewitness account of the burnings from an elderly man who claimed to have castrated two of the men before they were lynched.

Monte Akers lived in Freestone County, Texas, where the events in this book took place, for nine years. He is now a partner in the Akers & Boulware-Wells law firm in Austin. He is also an adjunct professor at Texas State University–San Marcos.

REVIEWS:

“Flames after Midnight vividly captures [a] culture in all its repugnance, exploring the tenor of the times and delving into the character of the story’s central figures. While it cannot by its nature be pleasant to read, it is a well-written and compelling history that in its scope extends beyond Kirven [Texas]. Akers holds up a mirror so that we see ourselves, in historical retrospect, at our worst.”

USA Today





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