God’ll Cut You Down combinesan unlikely journalist, a murder case in Mississippi, and a fascinatingliterary true crime story in the style of Jon Ronson.
A notorious white supremacist named Richard Barrett wasbrutally murdered in Mississippi in 2010 by a young black man named VincentMcGee. At first the murder seemed a twist on old Deep South race crimes. Butthen new revelations and complications came to light. Maybe it was a disputeover money rather than race—or, maybe and intriguingly, over sex.
John Safran, a young white Jewish Australian documentarian,had been in Mississippi and interviewed Barrett for a film on race. When helearned of Barrett’s murder, he returned to find out what happened and becamecaught up in the twists and turns of the case. During his time in Mississippi,Safran got deeper and deeper into this gothic southern world, becoming entwinedin the lives of those connected with the murder—white separatist frenemies,black lawyers, police investigators, oddball neighbors, the stunned families,even the killer himself. And the more he talked with them, the less simple thecrime—and the people involved—seemed to be. In the end, he discovered howprofoundly and indelibly complex the truth about someone’s life—and death—canbe.
This is a brilliant, haunting, hilarious, unsettling storyabout race, money, sex, and power in the modern American South from anoutsider’s point of view.