Side by Side: Moonshine and Murder in Mississippi
Side by Side: Murder and Moonshine in Mississippi is the true account of the murder of two federal marshals in 1901. The crimes were committed by the moonshiner and counterfeiter, Will Mathis and his father-in-law’s servant, Orlando Lester. In a place marked by mobs and lynchings, two men, one white and one black, are hung side by side.
This book is characterized by a lot of research. The author poured over court documents, letters, eyewitness testimonies and other books on the same topic to create a narrative of the events surrounding the murder. However, instead of coming across like In Cold Blood, this book feels more like a report you would write for school. There are pictures and actual excerpts from the trials, but not a lot else to catch your attention. Each chapter felt a little disjointed, with the author sometimes spending more time describing things that didn’t seem to be very crucial and there were times when he would quote the same thing more than once but it didn’t seem to be intentional.
It is an interesting crime, especially in a time marked by racial discrimination. I love the statement on the back of the book, “two men judged unequal in life but equal in death.” However, not the most thrilling true crime book ever written.
T. J. Ray