Stories of Scottsboro by James Goodman is an in-depth look at the case and overall events that occurred when nine black men are accused of raping two young white women. The black men range in age from thirteen to nineteen. And the two women whom they are accused of raping are seventeen and twenty-one years old. The men are arrested in March of 1931 at a train depot in Paint Rock Alabama after getting into a fight with a group of white men around the same age on the train earlier that day. They are then taken to a jail in Scottsboro Alabama because Scottsboro is the county seat of Jackson County. They were sentenced to death after a rushed and racially based trial, which caused much controversy within the United States and attracted attention around the globe.
Stories of Scottsboro is told from a third-person point of view and is written as a narrative. James Goodman is not presenting new information in this book; he is just arranging information that is already known to exist into an easy to follow retelling of the events that occurred during the trials through the eyes of people that were there. Goodman’s book is written in an interesting way. The book is divided into fifty-four rather short chapters in which he tells the story from a different perspective in each chapter, but still in the form of a narrative. With this narrative style and division of chapters into different perspectives, the book flows very well and captures the events taking place very thoroughly. He lists his sources in the bibliography and also briefly explains what his sources are in the preface. In the preface he says, “My sources include diaries, memoirs, oral histories, and autobiographies; previous histories of Scottsboro and numerous other works of history…”
Goodman’s goal with this book is to tell the stories of what happened on a more individual level in contrast to solely explaining why the men were arrested and how they were not given a fair trial. In the preface, he simply explains what he is setting out to do in his book “I retell people's stories, and I try to explain them, writing about what people saw and heard, where they got their news and information, and how their memories, ideas, and past experiences shaped their experience of Scottsboro. ” The author provides meticulous attention to detail as he tells the story of the Scottsboro Boys through the eyes of different individuals.
I find it hard to say whether or not other historians’ writings about this subject are in agreement with what Goodman is writing because I have not seen the story of Scottsboro written as a narrative in a form like this yet. There seems to be a consensus among historians on the subject of the trials for the Scottsboro Boys. I have yet to read any current publication that states that they were given a fair trial or that the case that the state of Alabama was presenting in court held any legitimacy. It is made evident that Goodman is trying to present these events in a new light.
Although he is telling the story from many different people's points of view, he is still able to focus much of his attention to the International Labor Defense (ILD), and the case that they presented. The book touches on the case that the state of Alabama has against the boys, which is very weak, but then goes back to focus on the ILD and their case as well as the fight between the ILD and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for control of the case. The fight between the ILD and the NAACP occurred because neither the ILD, nor the NAACP would represent the boys unless all the boys agreed to give their…