He made history as a lawyer by winning the most important case of the 20th Century, Brown v. Board 
of Education.

He made history as a justice by becoming the first black man to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

But before he could make history, Thurgood Marshall 
had to survive the most explosive and deadly case of 
his career.  


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On May 3, 1946, in St. Martinsville, Louisiana, a seventeen-year-old black boy was scheduled for execution by electric chair. Willie Francis had been charged with murder of a white pharmacist; his trial had been brief; his death sentence never in doubt. When the executioners flipped the switch, Willie screamed and writhed as electricity coursed through his body. But Willie Francis did not die.

Only Bertrand DeBlanc, a young Cajun lawyer and best friend of the victim, would agree to take Willie’s case, and he soon uncovered a haunting truth that the town of St. Martinville had hoped to bury.  The Execution of Willie Francis offers a heroic and heart-stopping tale of two young men who grew up blocks away from each other but worlds apart, and their unlikely bond as they search for justice in the Bayou state of Louisiana.  

“...strangely charming and unforgettable.”

                                         -Kirkus Starred Review

“...almost certainly the best book on capital punishment in America since Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song.”

                                         -Counterpunch Magazine



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Gilbert King