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Emmett TillEmmett Till

The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement

Devery S. Anderson

Narrated by Brandon Church

Available from Audible

Book published by University Press of Mississippi

A gripping reexamination of the abduction and murder that galvanized the civil rights movement.

Emmett Till offers the first truly comprehensive account of the 1955 murder and its aftermath. It tells the story of Emmett Till, the fourteen-year-old African American boy from Chicago brutally lynched for a harmless flirtation at a country store in the Mississippi Delta. His death and the acquittal of his killers by an all-white jury set off a firestorm of protests that reverberated all over the world and spurred on the civil rights movement. Like no other event in modern history, the death of Emmett Till provoked people all over the United States to seek social change.

For six decades the Till story has continued to haunt the South as the lingering injustice of Till's murder and the aftermath altered many lives. Fifty years after the murder, renewed interest in the case led the Justice Department to open an investigation into identifying and possibly prosecuting accomplices of the two men originally tried. Between 2004 and 2005, the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the first real probe into the killing and turned up important information that had been lost for decades.

This book will stand as the definitive work on Emmett Till for years to come. Incorporating much new information, the book demonstrates how the Emmett Till murder exemplifies the Jim Crow South at its nadir. The author accessed a wealth of new evidence. Anderson has made a dozen trips to Mississippi and Chicago to conduct research and interview witnesses and reporters who covered the trial. In Emmett Till Anderson corrects the historical record and presents this critical saga in its entirety.

Devery S. Anderson is an editor at Signature Books in Salt Lake City. He has authored or coauthored several books on Mormon history, two of which won the Steven F. Christensen Award for Best Documentary from the Mormon History Association.


“Drawing on new evidence and interviews with Till’s family members, witnesses to the murder, and reporters who covered the trial that exonerated the accused killers, Anderson offers a very detailed examination of the murder and its significance in the long history of racial abuses in the South under Jim Crow. He details the lives of Emmett and Mamie Till, his mother, in Chicago; the fateful trip to Mississippi; and the aftermath. In a separate section, Anderson looks at how the story of Till’s death reemerged after 50 years and sparked an intense investigation, including the exhumation of Till’s body. He concludes with his own theory about the case and its legacy, a fund to investigate cold cases of civil rights murders prior to 1970. Photographs enhance this very thorough and compelling look at the murder that galvanized the civil rights movement and continues to act as a rallying call for racial justice.”


“Devery S. Anderson’s Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement provides a full and detailed picture of the murder of Emmett Till and its legacy. While there have been numerous books and several documentaries on Till’s murder, trial, and its aftermath―including the posthumously published Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America by Till’s mother―Mr. Anderson’s book takes readers deep inside the political psyche and cultural mindset of Mississippi at the time. Emmett Till is masterfully researched, drawing on public archives and public collections to present the most detailed account of this horrific story.”

Wall Street Journal

“You may think, as I did, that you know the totality of this tale, but you will learn much that is new, as I did. That is because Anderson has tracked down every source; read every testimony, description, and transcript; interviewed every living witness; and read the memories of the departed. He has searched every newspaper and magazine story, including the most obscure, and gathered every conflicting version. Where witnesses conflict, he offers the likeliest version and acknowledges the disagreement. He places this horrendous crime where it belongs: centrally in the civil rights movement.... This is a book that covers its subject magnificently.”

—from the foreword by Julian Bond, chairman emeritus, NAACP

“No one knows more about this brutal murder and its contested legacy than Devery Anderson. In his long-anticipated and meticulously researched study, he has delivered, as we all expected, the definitive account of this case. Anderson has read every source, tracked every lead, assessed every claim, and weighed every piece of evidence in his passionate quest to know the truth. This is the Emmett Till book that historians have been waiting for, and it is the book that Emmett Till’s legacy deserves.”

—Christopher Metress, associate provost for academics, Samford University; editor of The Lynching of Emmett Till: A Documentary Narrative

“Devery S. Anderson has written the definitive account of the heinous lynching of Emmett Till in 1955, a crime that galvanized the American civil rights movement. Emmett Till explores the case inside and out, presenting information, evidence, and testimonies that have never been acknowledged publicly in sixty years. With over a decade of industrious research into the case, Anderson leaves no stone unturned. Thanks to him, this unforgettable book will allow readers of all generations to reflect on and learn of the true story of a fourteen-year-old youth from Chicago, murdered in Mississippi over a wolf whistle. Just when you thought you knew everything about the case, this book will unequivocally change your mind.”

—Ryan M. Jones, museum historian, National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel

“Anderson grapples with the Rashomon-like quality of Till’s murder through consistently careful research and thoughtful analysis. This compelling narrative will hold the attention of readers who are otherwise unfamiliar with the case, and it is likely to be the definitive work on this subject for decades to come.”

—David T. Beito, professor of history, University of Alabama; coauthor of Black Maverick: T. R. M. Howard‚Äôs Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power

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University Press Audiobooks
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University Press Audiobooks