"To me there is no more haunted, complex terrain in America than the countryside between Port Gibson, Mississippi, and the river. The land is full of ghosts. . . . Medgar Evers returned here from infantry combat in France after World War II to attend Alcorn State University. Here he met and courted his future wife, Myrlie. And it is because of him and of her that I am maki"To me there is no more haunted, complex terrain in America than the countryside between Port Gibson, Mississippi, and the river. The land is full of ghosts. . . . Medgar Evers returned here from infantry combat in France after World War II to attend Alcorn State University. Here he met and courted his future wife, Myrlie. And it is because of him and of her that I am making this journey on this day to the Windsor Ruins a few miles north of the Alcorn campus. Just out of Port Gibson, a sign on the side of the road said: WINDSOR RUINS CLOSED TODAY. Hollywood had taken them over."Thus, Willie Morris begins an intensely personal journeyboth dramatic and emotionalinvolving racism, murder, history, and Hollywood.For years Morris has portrayed American life through lyrical evocations of his own experience. Now he brings together the harsh realities of race and the magical illusions of Hollywood in an unusual book about the making of the movie Ghosts of Mississippi and its more complicated historical background: the 1963 assassination of the courageous civil rights activist Medgar Evers and the conviction thirty years later of his killer, Byron De La Beckwith, in one of the most striking cases in the annals of American jurisprudence.The Ghosts of Medgar Evers is not only a dramatic account of the making of a major motion picture about one of the most heinous crimes of this century; it is also an examination of the murder itself and the people involved that explains why it took so long for justice to prevail.Morris was on hand both for the trial and for the making of the movie. As the filming progressed, layer after layerof ironies, of personal and public deja vus, unfolded. With director Rob Reiner and producer Fred Zollo, Morris traveled the Mississippi back roads known to him since boyhood, surveying the story's real locales. He was present when the assassination was reenacted at the actual murder scene, and on the Hollywood soundstages when the trial was filmedrecreations that involved a number of participants in the original events, including three of Evers's children, who witnessed his death in 1963. His sons Darrell and Van Evers portrayed themselves as adults in the movie, and his daughter, Reena, played a juror in the 1994 trial. The filming, Morris reports, was often emotionally wrenching, particularly for the family members: When Alec Baldwin, as assistant district attorney Bobby DeLaughter, made his final summary to the jury, Reena wept openly.The South today and the unadorned politics of race are juxtaposed and intermingled with the politics and mechanics of moviemaking. The Ghosts of Medgar Evers is Willie Morris at his best....
|Title||:||The Ghosts of Medgar Evers: A Tale of Race, Murder, Mississippi, and Hollywood|
|Number of Pages||:||228 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The Ghosts of Medgar Evers: A Tale of Race, Murder, Mississippi, and Hollywood Reviews
From The Orlando SentinelApril 19, 1998Morris’ ‘Ghost’ Fleshes Out Evers StoryThe Ghosts of Medgar EversA Tale of Race, Murder, Mississippi, and HollywoodBy Willie MorrisRandom House, $23, hardcover, 272 pages© Mary A. Mitchell Author William Faulkner contended that one had to know a place like his native Mississippi to know the world, a position central to his writing. In a striking blend of autobiography, history and analysis, fellow writer and Mississippian Willie Morris, follows similar threads in The Ghosts of Medgar Evers. Against a narrative backdrop that mingles pleasant childhood recollections with the harsh realities of racism, Morris stitches together a deeply moving and highly personal fabric of tragedy and triumph, cruelty and charity and, finally, illusion and reality. In a pattern that is somewhat jarring, he leaps among three stories: the life and eventual assassination of civil rights leader Evers in his Jackson, Mississippi, driveway in 1963, the conviction of white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith for the murder more than 30 years and three trials later and the making and premiere of Director Rob Reiner’s Ghosts of Mississippi, a film that concerned both. In 1994 as a journalist for a national magazine, Morris, who already had returned from the East to live in his home state, anxiously monitored the pivotal trial and its outcome. Later, he was instrumental in persuading producer Fred Zollo, who had made Mississippi Burning, to develop a movie that followed the valiant and tenacious efforts of assistant district attorney Bobby DeLaughter, a white conservative; Evers’ widow, Myrlie; and others in bringing De La Beckwith to trial after so long. Previous associations between Mississippi and Hollywood had been volatile and controversial. The perception of Mississippi was negative, whether the film was a faithful adaptation of Faulkner’s Intruder in the Dust in 1949 or Oliver Stone’s fictionalized account of the tragic 1964 murders of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County in 1988’s Mississippi Burning. The latter, despite its power, effectively stereotyped white Mississippians as ignorant bigots.Ghosts, Morris writes, was to take a different approach, which it did. Despite the camaraderie of the crew and actors and their commitment to the truth, many Mississippians were hesitant to cooperate. No one involved was prepared for the “roundly critical reception,” which Morris dissects and dilutes in his final chapters. As in previous books, including the acclaimed North Toward Home written in the 1960s, Morris calls upon his Mississippi past to reflect upon contemporary problems. He views the state’s racial problems as a microcosm of universal proportions, though hardly defending or denying Mississippi’s dreadful mistakes.Here, with the peculiar perspective of a liberal and compassionate native who has left and returned, he accounts for the state’s uneven progress amid the ghosts of slavery, murder and racism. Like Faulkner and Medgar Evers before him, he knows that one loves “a place not so much because of its virtues but despite its faults.” It is this ambivalent passion that brought him home and wrought the movie and this book.
I'm very fond of Willie Morris' writing. He has a knack for capturing the world through the lens of a Southern sensibility that is consistently pleasing to me. He speaks of the world of my Mother's generation, but of my own generation, too, never ceasing to ask the important questions: What does it mean to come from a land cursed by the sin of slavery? What does it mean to be Southern & away from home? How does the South shape who we are? How do we reconcile the beauty & the brutality, Faulkner & the KKK?In some ways this is a disappointing book, mainly I suspect because I expect so much of its author. What I had hoped would be an examination of the impact of Medgar Evers' assassination & the subsequent re-investigation & conviction of his killer was instead a lukewarm story of the making of the Hollywood film - The Ghosts of Mississippi. There are moments here when Morris approaches the underlying questions raised by Mississippi's civil rights history, by the continual Hollywood telling of this story through the eyes of white men, & by the difficulty of healing old wounds, but he seems to step gingerly through & around them without really confronting them. Still, the writing is lovely & there are some beautiful descriptions of the Delta. I wish he had dug deeper for this - I missed his voice here.
I love anything I have ever read by Mr. Morris. It is not his best book but it is Morris (i.e., still good!). While it told the story of Mr. Evers, it also told the first hand account of the making of the movie, "Ghosts of Mississippi". I would recommend for Morris fans and/or anyone interested in history. May we learn from this era in history!