393 The Evidence of Things Not Seen

evidenceofthingsnotseenby James Baldwin, 1985

The Evidence of Things Not Seen is, in some respects,  a true-crime book, and in other respects, a continuation of Baldwin’s preferred subject of the problem of race in America. While Baldwin was living in France, he was contacted with the suggestion of going to Atlanta to write about children who had gone missing there. The children would eventually turn up murdered, and Wayne Williams would be convicted of killing two adults men, though he would be seemingly tried for 23 of the child murders. This short book isn’t an investigation into the crimes, but an examination of the justice system and the opportunity to cast doubt on the trial that took place. Baldwin doesn’t necessarily advocate for the complete innocence of Williams, but rather questions the city’s eagerness to attribute the murders of all of these black children to one man, who is also black. That doubt is enough to make the reader wonder what really happened within the minds of the jurors and whether any justice was done in this trial.

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