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University of Iowa News Release

March 24, 2006

April 7 WSUI Reading Features National Book Award Winner Kevin Boyle

Historian Kevin Boyle will read from "Arc of Justice," winner of a 2004 National Book Award, at 7 p.m. Friday, April 7, on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910.

Julie Englander will host the broadcast, which will originate in a free event in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen on the Internet at

Boyle, a professor of history at Ohio State University, will be in Iowa as a guest of the UI History Department -- for whom he will present a talk on writing history for a poplar audience, in a free public event at noon April 7 in Room 302 of UI Schaeffer Hall -- and as a participant in the Hoover Library Symposium, "Titans of the 20th Century," on April 8 in West Branch.

"Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age" portrays the origins of the civil rights movement through an incident in Detroit. Critic Vanessa Bush summarized, "In the steamy summer of 1925, Detroit, like many northern cities, was in the throes of rising tension from racism as native-born whites, immigrants, and blacks, drawn by the flourishing automobile industry, jockeyed for jobs and housing in the teeming metropolis.

"In the jazz-age era of changing social mores and rising expectations, Dr. Ossian Sweet, grandson of a slave, attempted to move into a working-class white neighborhood. His neighbors, fanned into a panic by avaricious real-estate brokers and the growing presence of the Ku Klux Klan, threaten Sweet and his family with violent eviction. In self-defense, Sweet and his friends arm themselves and end up killing a member of the mob.

"The murder indictment of Sweet, his wife, and their defenders attracts Clarence Darrow as defense attorney and the newly organized NAACP, which was in the midst of a national campaign against racial restrictions in housing. Boyle, a history professor, brings immediacy and drama to the social and economic factors that ignited racial violence, provoked the compelling court case, and set in motion the civil rights struggle."

David Maraniss, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, wrote, "What a powerful and beautiful book! Kevin Boyle has done a great service to history with 'Arc of Justice.' With deep research and graceful prose, he has taken a single moment, the hot September day in 1925 when Ossian and Gladys Sweet moved into a bungalow on Garland Avenue in Detroit, and from that woven an amazing and unforgettable story of prejudice and justice at the dawn of America's racial awakening."

For more information on the Hoover Library symposium call Matt Schaefer at 319-643-5301 or write

The History Department is an academic unit of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,