In this sensitively told tale of suffering, brutality, and inhumanity, Worse Than Slavery is an epic history of race and punishment in the deepest South from emancipation to the Civil Rights Era—and beyond.
Immortalized in blues songs and movies like Cool Hand Luke and The Defiant Ones, Mississippi’s infamous Parchman State Penitentiary was, in the pre-civil rights south, synonymous with cruelty. Now, noted historian David Oshinsky gives us the true story of the notorious prison, drawing on police records, prison documents, folklore, blues songs, and oral history, from the days of cotton-field chain gangs to the 1960s, when Parchman was used to break the wills of civil rights workers who journeyed south on Freedom Rides.
David M. Oshinsky, PhD, is a professor in the NYU Department of History and director of the Division of Medical Humanities at the NYU School of Medicine. In 2005, he won the Pulitzer Prize in History for Polio: An American Story. His other books include the D.B. Hardeman Prize–winning A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy, and the Robert Kennedy Prize–winning “Worse Than Slavery”: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice. His articles and reviews appear regularly in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.