Down Along with That Devil's Bones: A Reckoning with Monuments, Memory, and the Legacy of White Supremacy (Paperback)
October 2020 Indie Next List
“The small town of Pierson, Illinois, is so fortunate to have the bright, hard-working Becky Farwell as town treasurer. She really understands finances and how to get the most out of the town’s limited resources. But despite her best efforts, there is never enough to repair the roads, maintain the river walk, or fund the schools. In another world, people wonder what the story is behind the glamorous, high-flying art collector Reba Farwell, who has no visible means of support. Does it matter, as long she has an unfailingly discerning eye and gives great parties? Watch and wonder as the talented Miss Farwell keeps all the plates spinning in this totally absorbing study of obsession and deception.”
— Brian Lampkin, Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC
"We can no longer see ourselves as minor spectators or weary watchers of history after finishing this astonishing work of nonfiction." --Kiese Laymon, author of HeavyConnor Towne O'Neill's journey onto the battlefield of white supremacy began with a visit to Selma, Alabama, in 2015. There he had a chance encounter with a group of people preparing to erect a statue to celebrate the memory of Nathan Bedford Forrest, one of the most notorious Confederate generals, a man whom Union general William Tecumseh Sherman referred to as "that devil." After that day in Selma, O'Neill, a white Northerner transplanted to the South, decided to dig deeply into the history of Forrest and other monuments to him throughout the South, which, like Confederate monuments across America, have become flashpoints in the fight against racism. Forrest was not just a brutal general, O'Neill learned; he was a slave trader and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. O'Neill encountered citizens who still hold Forrest in cult-like awe, desperate to preserve what they call their "heritage," and he also talked to others fighting to tear the monuments down. In doing so he discovered a direct line from Forrest's ugly history straight to the heart of the battles raging today all across America. The fight over Forrest reveals a larger battle, one meant to sustain white supremacy--a system that props up all white people, not just those defending the monuments. With clear-eyed passion and honest introspection, O'Neill takes readers on a journey to understand the many ways in which the Civil War, begun in 1860, has never ended. A brilliant and provocative blend of history, reportage, and personal essay, Down Along with That Devil's Bones presents an important and eye-opening account of how we got from Appomattox to Charlottesville, and of our vital need to confront our past in order to transcend it and move toward a more just society.