Death of an Overseer : Reopening a Murder Investigation from the Plantation South
In May of 1857, the body of Duncan Skinner was found in a strip of woods along the edge of the plantation near Natchez, Mississippi, where he worked as an overseer. Although a coroner's jury initially ruled his death to be accidental, an investigation organized by planters from the community concluded that he had been murdered by three slaves acting under instructions from John McCallin, an Irish carpenter. Now, almost a century and a half later, Michael Wayne has reopened the case to ask whether the men involved in the investigation arrived at the right verdict. Part essay on the art of historical detection, part seminar on the history of slavery and the Old South, Death of an Overseer is, above all, a murder mystery-a murder mystery that allows readers to sift through the surviving evidence themselves and come to their own conclusions about who killed Duncan Skinner and why.
- Hardback | 272 pages
- 161 x 241 x 24.9mm | 602.15g
- 01 Apr 2001
- Oxford University Press
- Oxford, United Kingdom
- 6 halftones, 3 maps
Relaxed style ... cleverly designed ... willingness to experiment with form in order to get readers to grapple with the methods, as well as the conclusions, of historians * J. William Harris, Times Literary Supplement * Death of an Overseer is far more than an engrossing tale about the Old South. It is at least as much a book about the writing of history ... will quickly become required reading in courses on the Old South - and in courses that explore the ways historians practice their craft. * The Journal of American History *
About Michael Wayne
Michael Wayne teaches history at University College, the University of Toronto. His first book, The Reshaping of Plantation Society, won multiple prizes, including the Francis Butler Simkins Award of the Southern Historical Association.