Down Along with That Devil's Bones
A Reckoning with Monuments, Memory, and the Legacy of White Supremacy
“The past won’t go anywhere — especially the racist past endorsed by the contemporary enablers of the Nathan Bedford Forrest mythology. O’Neill’s combination of historical research on the ‘Southern Cause’ and Jim Crow racism, combined with visits to the most contentious monuments to slavery, bring this work to visceral life. Down Along with That Devil’s Bones brings to mind Tony Horwitz’s Confederates in the Attic, but there’s much less to laugh about as O’Neill gives us the endless monumental horror of a country’s refusal to shake free from the roots of a long racist history.”Brian Lampkin, Scuppernong Books
When O’Neill first moved to Alabama, as a white Northerner, he felt somewhat removed from the racism Confederate monuments represented. Then one day in Selma, he stumbled across a group of citizens protecting a monument to Forrest, the officer who became the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and whom William Tecumseh Sherman referred to as “that devil.” O’Neill sets off to visit other disputed memorials to Forrest across the South, talking with men and women who believe they are protecting their heritage, and those who have a different view of the man’s poisonous history.
O’Neill’s reporting and thoughtful, deeply personal analysis make it clear that white supremacy is not a regional affliction but is in fact coded into the DNA of the entire country. Down Along with That Devil’s Bones presents an important and eye-opening account of how we got from Appomattox to Charlottesville, and where, if we can truly understand and transcend our past, we could be headed next.