The Law of the White Circle

The Law of the White Circle


By (author) Thornwell Jacobs, Contributions by Paul Stephen Hudson, Contributions by Walter White, Contributions by William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, Foreword by W. Fitzhugh Brundage

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  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Format: Paperback | 168 pages
  • Dimensions: 126mm x 198mm x 12mm | 181g
  • Publication date: 15 September 2006
  • Publication City/Country: Georgia
  • ISBN 10: 0820328804
  • ISBN 13: 9780820328805
  • Edition: New edition
  • Edition statement: New edition
  • Illustrations note: 3 b&w photos

Product description

Long out of print, this is the only novel set during the infamous Atlanta race riot of 1906, in which dozens of African Americans were killed or injured. The "white circle" of the book's title delineates a realm of freedom, opportunity, and equality into which no black person could enter. The tensions that exploded into three days of deadly mob violence are explored through the intertwined stories of a white journalist, a black college professor, and the woman they both love - an artist of mixed race who chooses to pass as white. Until the riot, Atlanta had been touted as a place where blacks and whites lived peacefully, yet separately. Thornwell Jacobs tries to make sense of what happened by weaving into his story threads of thought on such issues as media sensationalism, interracial love, social Darwinism, and class divisions within black and white communities. This edition of "The Law of the White Circle" comes with additional writings that offer alternative perspectives on the Atlanta riot and put the novel and its real-world events in historical and sociological context. Included are a foreword by W. Fitzhugh Brundage, a noted historian of the South whose scholarly interests include lynching and historical memory; an essay by historian Paul Stephen Hudson, the recognized authority on Thornwell Jacobs; an excerpt from "A Man Called White", the autobiography of NAACP leader Walter White, whose family lived in Atlanta at the time of the riot; and the poem "A Litany of Atlanta," composed during the riot by the renowned African American scholar, writer, and civil rights leader W. E. B. Du Bois.

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Author information

Thornwell Jacobs was a prolific writer of poetry, history, and fiction. He was president of Oglethorpe University in Atlanta from 1915 to 1943.

Review quote

"The lasting significance of Jacobs's novella was not its critical and popular success--it enjoyed a measure of both--but its stark and concise encapsulation of a white worldview that today is, thankfully, seldom heard in public. By reading The Law of the White Circle, we can understand better the mind-set of the architects of Jim Crow as well as its defenders during the 1950s and 1960s."--W. Fitzhugh Brundage, from the foreword