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Reviews

"Chavis, who has discovered period sources that shed new light on the lynching of Matthew Williams—a Black man who was killed by a mob in Salisbury, Maryland, in 1931—brings the sensibilities of both a scholar and a history detective to bear in scrutinizing the ins and outs of an often complicated story and narrative arc. This book is further enhanced by a number of excellent photographs and other illustrations, as well as some useful charts and maps."

"Chavis's book brings the painful truth of anti-Black violence to light and breaks the silence that, up until now, has surrounded the murder of Matthew Williams. For nearly 90 years, this lynching has haunted the Eastern Shore; now, Chavis's investigative work helps heal old wounds and opens new ones by revealing Williams's killers and those who assisted them. The detailed retelling of these fateful events—reconstructed from sources never before used by scholars—is powerful, timely, and devastating."

"The Silent Shore is excellent and essential reading. By recovering the tragic story of Matthew Williams, Charles L. Chavis Jr. enriches the history of lynching in America. Deeply researched and brimming with important insights, this book locates the 'free state' of Maryland as a critical site of contestation over race, democracy, and citizenship in ways that continue to reverberate in the age of Black Lives Matter."

"The Silent Shore is a must-read account of the 1931 lynching of a young Black man on a December evening in downtown Salisbury, Maryland. The event was a seminal one: an act of racial terrorism which, along with other lynchings on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, shaped the dynamics of race and power across the state for decades to come. Chavis digs deep, finding documents never before seen publicly, to present a rich and revealing story of how lynchings were planned and executed, and of the conspiracy of silence among white people in the region that shrouded the perpetrators of lynching from accountability. The story resonates with power and caution for our contemporary efforts to address racial violence and discrimination."

"A poignant and revelatory reflection on lynching, violence, and racism. Seemingly southern in its heritage of slavery and white supremacy, the 'Free State' of Maryland also had a robust tradition of Black activism. In this prodigiously researched and gracefully told story, Charles Chavis reveals the clash of these two traditions while tracing a surprising story of political courage and community resolve in the wake of the gruesome execution of Matthew Williams."