The year is 1964 and Carl Gordon is an ill-prepared New York Assistant U.S. Attorney who has lied his way into a transfer to Stockville, Alabama, where he is supposed to monitor and enforce the Civil Rights Act.
In a matter of days, the Ku Klux Klan takes aim at him, the outside agitator. Carl has agreed to represent Oleatha Geary, a black family matriarch who has inherited a mansion in an all-white, race-restricted neighborhood. Carl and Oleatha are engulfed in litigation that turns deadly. It’s anyone’s guess who will survive multiple assassination attempts, let alone whose integrity will remain intact.
Carl’s 12-year-old son, John, is unwelcome on Stockville’s white basketball team because of who his father is, and it seems there’s nowhere else for him to play. But ever-resourceful and impulsive Carl makes other plans for John, unwittingly putting John’s life, and the life of his new teammates, at risk. Ultimately, the young players don’t care as much about color lines as they do the lines on the basketball floor.
Praise for Black Hearts White Minds and Mitch Margo
“As I read Black Hearts White Minds, I was reminded by turns of Harper Lee, Willie Morris, and John Grisham. Like Grisham, Mitch Margo is an attorney; like Morris, he’s a former journalist, and like Lee, his writing is evocative with a moral center straight and true.”
-Richard H. Weiss, Former Daily Features Editor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“The early sixties are often thought of as a time of lost innocence. Margo reminds us that the era was anything but innocent in the American south. His novel rings with authenticity and his characters’ struggles in the fictional town of Stockville, Alabama foretell the problems we still face today. Stockville is not really so far from Ferguson.”
-Bill McClellan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Mitch Margo enriches his story of the institutional and personal conflicts during the Civil Rights era with characters whose responses are always felt and are at times surprising.”
-Kenneth J. Cooper, Pulitzer Prize Winner
“Black Hearts White Minds transports readers to a time and place in American history when the Civil Rights movement was slowly gaining traction, and segregationists, including the Ku Klux Klan, would stop at nothing to trounce the efforts of blacks and whites fighting for justice. Margo has crafted a narrative that is equal parts engrossing, heartbreaking and hopeful, populated with richly drawn, compelling characters, and an overarching essence that captures the enduring nature of the human spirit, no matter the obstacles.”
-Ellen Futterman, Editor, St. Louis Jewish Light
“At once magical and poignant and terrifying… You will be enchanted by this powerful story.”
-Michael A. Kahn, Award-winning Author, Rachel Gold Mysteries Series
“Mitch Margo sets his first novel in one Alabama town, allowing him to explore the era on a distinctly human scale through ordinary people and not so ordinary events. Margo has a knack for dramatic structure and a sharp eye for contrasting, engaging personalities. And his plot twists manage to be simultaneously startling and entirely credible, no mean feat.”
-Eric Mink, Writer, The Huffington Post
“I simply loved this book, the story, the characters, and of course the basketball concept on his first time out, Mitch Margo scores a triple double.”
-Ron Himes, Founder and Producing Director St. Louis Black Repertory Company
“Mitch Margo did an awesome job making me feel the joy, pain, frustration and passion of each character. I felt like I was right there in Stockville experiencing the story myself…”
-Sharonda McMullen Director, Create A New You
“Black Hearts White Minds is a lively, engrossing novel about two families struggling with the brutality of Jim Crow, one black, the other white. The plotting is deft, the characters vivid, and the ambience as thick as Southern humidity. Mitch Margo knows how to tell a story.”
-David Carkeet, Author, The Full Catastrophe
“Mitch Margo tells a story that combines love, painful history, politics, childhood innocence, prejudice and courage. You will want to read it more than once.”
-Lenora Billings-Harris, Author, The Diversity Advantage: A Guide to Making Diversity Work
“Black Hearts White Minds is an important book that lances the boil of prejudice, peels away the crusted layers of historic bigotry, and reveals a purer sense of what’s possible when we see ourselves and each other as whole and valid. Mitch Margo’s own life experiences coupled with his mastery of story puts him in a league with John Grisham and Taylor Branch.”
-Mara Purl, Bestselling Author, What the Heart Knows and Where the Heart Lives
About the Author
A former reporter for The Detroit News and Los Angeles Herald Examiner and a syndicated columnist for 14 years, Mitch Margo is a native New Yorker and St. Louis trial lawyer. He’s witnessed the clash of cultures which are woven into his first novel, Black Hearts White Minds. Much of the story is drawn from his personal experiences, interviews, and hundreds of hours of research. He credits his eclectic law practice for a new storyline every few days.
As general counsel to the Missouri Valley Conference, and a former youth coach, Mitch has an insider’s view of basketball that enables him to write about it authentically. He’s also a member of the Washington University Sports Hall of Fame, at one time holding the school record in just about every baseball statistic. He’s proud of his days as a student/athlete, but hasn’t lost sight of the fact that you can’t get too much farther from Cooperstown and still be in a hall of fame.
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