Dan T. Carter

In 1968 when Dan T. Carter published his book, “Scottsboro:  A Tragedy of the American South,”  it was an immediate success.  Critics loved it and it earned the author a Bancroft Prize.  The New York Times stated, “This is a fortunate exception to the general rule about “case” books, which are too often thesis-ridden, partisan, and full of special  pleading.  Here is the genuine historian at his proper work of finding the truth, whatever it “teaches,” wherever he can find it, and whomever it indicates.”  The reviewer concludes, “[Carter] tells his story without fear and without favor.”  It has also been said of the book that “this detailed, unembellished, utterly engrossing history is a work of clarification, and the author’s ability to make the reader aware of much--from the individuality of each of the victims, to the social structure of rural Alabama, to what would now be called the level of black power (or powerlessness) in the North--is remarkable.

Despite the widespread praise his book received, one inaccuracy in Carter's book is proved noteworthy.  Carter reported that both Bates and Price died in 1961.  This information was relied upon by NBC when it used Carter's work as the primary source of material for the script of "Judge Horton and the Scottsboro Boys," a movie televised in 1976.  Price and Bates turned out to be alive and well, and Price surfaced to file a defamation and false light privacy lawsuit against the network.  Price's suit was dismissed in 1982 by a federal appellate court.

Carter is an historian and professor at Emory University.  His most recent book is a biography of George C. Wallace entitled, “Politics of Rage.”


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