Connor Towne O’NeillNov 4, 2020
Down Along with That Devil’s Bones
A Reckoning with Monuments, Memory, and the Legacy of White Supremacy
Algonquin Books 2020
In Down Along with That Devil’s Bones: A Reckoning with Monuments, Memory, and the Legacy of White Supremacy (Algonquin Books, 2020), journalist Connor Towne O’Neill takes a deep dive into American history, exposing the still-raging battles over monuments dedicated to one of the most notorious Confederate generals, Nathan Bedford Forrest. Through the lens of these conflicts, O’Neill examines the legacy of white supremacy in America, in a sobering and fascinating work sure to resonate with readers of Tony Horwitz, Timothy B. Tyson, and Robin DiAngelo.
When O’Neill first moved to Alabama, as a white Northerner, he felt somewhat removed from the racism Confederate monuments represented. Then one day in Selma, he stumbled across a group of citizens protecting a monument to Forrest, the officer who became the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and whom William Tecumseh Sherman referred to as “that devil.” O’Neill sets off to visit other disputed memorials to Forrest across the South, talking with men and women who believe they are protecting their heritage, and those who have a different view of the man’s poisonous history.
O’Neill’s reporting and thoughtful, deeply personal analysis make it clear that white supremacy is not a regional affliction but is in fact coded into the DNA of the entire country. Down Along with That Devil’s Bones presents an important and eye-opening account of how we got from Appomattox to Charlottesville, and where, if we can truly understand and transcend our past, we could be headed next.
Connor Towne O’Neill’s writing has appeared in New York magazine, Vulture, Slate, RBMA, and the Village Voice, and he works as a producer on the NPR podcast White Lies, which was a finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Audio Reporting. Originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, he lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and teaches at Auburn University and with the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project. This is his first book.
Dr. Christina Gessler’s background is in American women’s history, and literature. She specializes in the diaries written by rural women in the 19th century. In seeking the extraordinary in the ordinary, Gessler writes the histories of largely unknown women, poems about small relatable moments, and takes many, many photos in nature.