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Blood in the Soil: A True Tale of Racism, Sex, and Murder in the South

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Blood in the Soil is the first book about the investigation into the shooting of Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt and his country attorney in Gwinnett County, Georgia, in 1978. But this book is not primarily about Larry Flynt, or even his shooter (the serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin), though both men are of course important characters in the story. This true accoun Blood in the Soil is the first book about the investigation into the shooting of Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt and his country attorney in Gwinnett County, Georgia, in 1978. But this book is not primarily about Larry Flynt, or even his shooter (the serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin), though both men are of course important characters in the story. This true account is told alternately from the perspective of Detective J. Michael Cowart and by following Franklin’s life from childhood through his execution. The monster that was Joseph Paul Franklin was the result of a perfect storm of circumstances, which included poverty, cruel abuse as a child, the detestation and mistrust between blacks and whites, integration, and the hate groups that operated and recruited openly. Detective Cowart tells the story of his first introduction to Franklin, and the cat-and-mouse game that ensued. A self-proclaimed truth-seeker, the detective had to appear to befriend Franklin to get him to provide enough information to prosecute him in the Flynt shooting. In the course of developing this rapport, Cowart gains astonishing insight into many of Franklin’s other cold-blooded killings and crimes, and his twisted justification for them. This book tells of a very real struggle between right and wrong. It details with stark honesty the terrible truths that characterized the South during the volatility of the sixties and seventies, and of the ugly reality that lies just beneath the veneer of a beautiful region known for its warm hospitality. Along the way, it examines some hard lessons about life, trust, and compromise.


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Blood in the Soil is the first book about the investigation into the shooting of Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt and his country attorney in Gwinnett County, Georgia, in 1978. But this book is not primarily about Larry Flynt, or even his shooter (the serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin), though both men are of course important characters in the story. This true accoun Blood in the Soil is the first book about the investigation into the shooting of Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt and his country attorney in Gwinnett County, Georgia, in 1978. But this book is not primarily about Larry Flynt, or even his shooter (the serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin), though both men are of course important characters in the story. This true account is told alternately from the perspective of Detective J. Michael Cowart and by following Franklin’s life from childhood through his execution. The monster that was Joseph Paul Franklin was the result of a perfect storm of circumstances, which included poverty, cruel abuse as a child, the detestation and mistrust between blacks and whites, integration, and the hate groups that operated and recruited openly. Detective Cowart tells the story of his first introduction to Franklin, and the cat-and-mouse game that ensued. A self-proclaimed truth-seeker, the detective had to appear to befriend Franklin to get him to provide enough information to prosecute him in the Flynt shooting. In the course of developing this rapport, Cowart gains astonishing insight into many of Franklin’s other cold-blooded killings and crimes, and his twisted justification for them. This book tells of a very real struggle between right and wrong. It details with stark honesty the terrible truths that characterized the South during the volatility of the sixties and seventies, and of the ugly reality that lies just beneath the veneer of a beautiful region known for its warm hospitality. Along the way, it examines some hard lessons about life, trust, and compromise.

30 review for Blood in the Soil: A True Tale of Racism, Sex, and Murder in the South

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Blood in the Soil by Carole Townsend is a tough read. It's about the investigation into the shooting of Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt and his country attorney in Gwinnett County, Georgia, in 1978 although this book is written in alternating perspectives between the life of shooter, Joseph Paul Franklin, and the investigator, Detective J. Michael Cowart. I live in Georgia, very close to Gwinnett County, and this is a case that has fascinated me for some time. The book promises to tell "a Blood in the Soil by Carole Townsend is a tough read. It's about the investigation into the shooting of Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt and his country attorney in Gwinnett County, Georgia, in 1978 although this book is written in alternating perspectives between the life of shooter, Joseph Paul Franklin, and the investigator, Detective J. Michael Cowart. I live in Georgia, very close to Gwinnett County, and this is a case that has fascinated me for some time. The book promises to tell "a very real struggle between right and wrong" as it details the terrible truths that characterized the South during the volatility of the sixties and seventies. As I've recently witnessed examples of racism during my trip to Savannah and I've seen the ugly battles over the Religious Liberty bill I was curious about this historical local event as well. The thing is, this book can be tough to read at times. Books like this, the ones that delve in to the darkness and ugliness of people, usually can be hard to read but I stuck it out. If you have any interest in history and can handle the terrible truths of some people, then I recommend it for a read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Zippergirl

    Move aside, Ann Rule. White supremacist and serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin was born in abject poverty in the Deep South and died on death row. A child of abuse and neglect, he grew up angry and mean. He embraced Mein Kampf and the vengeful God of the Old Testament, and racial hatred became his sole focus in life. "He had a fierce need to rebel, and incite others to rebel, against an ever-growing, dark-skinned tyranny" that was destroying white America. Impatient with the Ku Klux Klan and the Move aside, Ann Rule. White supremacist and serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin was born in abject poverty in the Deep South and died on death row. A child of abuse and neglect, he grew up angry and mean. He embraced Mein Kampf and the vengeful God of the Old Testament, and racial hatred became his sole focus in life. "He had a fierce need to rebel, and incite others to rebel, against an ever-growing, dark-skinned tyranny" that was destroying white America. Impatient with the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party for their failures to act, he picked up a sniper rifle and began his three year "mission." Before he was apprehended, he killed at least twenty-two people in cold blood, and injured many more, including civil rights leader Vernon Jordan and Hustler publisher Larry Flynt. Blood in the Soil examines the history of Southern racism, from the Trail of Tears to the civil rights movement of the 20th century, providing a grim background to the biography of a home-grown racially-motivated serial killer. Free from lurid tabloid journalism, this new true-crime story climbs right over some classics into my top ten. I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nicola Mansfield

    A good read if a bit unorthodoxly written for a true crime. This is the story of Joseph Paul Franklin, the man best known for shooting pornography king Larry Flynt, but he was a genuine serial killer by the time he added Flynt's shooting to his roster. The book is about Franklin but Flynt's shooting does take up a chapter and beyond that point can't help but become a major part of Franklin's life story. This was a totally fresh introduction to a serial killer for me as I'd not seen the movie mad A good read if a bit unorthodoxly written for a true crime. This is the story of Joseph Paul Franklin, the man best known for shooting pornography king Larry Flynt, but he was a genuine serial killer by the time he added Flynt's shooting to his roster. The book is about Franklin but Flynt's shooting does take up a chapter and beyond that point can't help but become a major part of Franklin's life story. This was a totally fresh introduction to a serial killer for me as I'd not seen the movie made about Flynt some years ago. Franklin was a racially motivated killer, a brutally abused child who tried to find somewhere to belong. He first tried Christianity but could only settle on the Old Testament God, his hatred for Jews conflicted with that moving him on to neo-Nazi groups, the KKK, and the like but found them all talk and no action. He then found his mentor and mission when he read Mein Kampf and decided to eradicate all mixed-race couples, blacks, and Jews. He didn't mind pornography per se, but Flynt hit his list when he started featuring mixed-race couples in his "filthy" magazine. The author interviewed lead Detective Michael Cowart extensively and with his permission, writes this book from his point of view, alternating with chapters written in the all-knowing perspective about Franklin, often, the author admits, putting thoughts into his head, which she feels justified doing from her extensive research of his letters and interviews. This, of course, has to be taken with a grain of salt, but it is compelling and makes for interesting reading. Frankin admits to killing 22 blacks and jews and it was ultimately the conviction for killing a Jewish man in a death penalty state which saw him put on death row and legally murdered by the state by lethal injection in 2013. Worth a read, especially as an introduction to the case, if you're unfamiliar with Joseph Paul Franklin as I was.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jo-Ann Murphy

    This is a very well written book about the serial killer, Joseph Paul Franklin, who shot the publisher, Larry Flynt. The writer does a very good job of helping us understand the making of this purely evil person. It should serve as a cautionary tale in our world today when hate speech is prevalent, even among our country's leaders. Ms Townsend discusses how the rhetoric against race can lead to senseless violence that tears lives apart. She takes on the task of trying to shed light on the factors This is a very well written book about the serial killer, Joseph Paul Franklin, who shot the publisher, Larry Flynt. The writer does a very good job of helping us understand the making of this purely evil person. It should serve as a cautionary tale in our world today when hate speech is prevalent, even among our country's leaders. Ms Townsend discusses how the rhetoric against race can lead to senseless violence that tears lives apart. She takes on the task of trying to shed light on the factors that produced this serial killer rather than just documenting his abhorrent actions. The story moves quickly and at times can be hard to put down. Much of it is told from the remembrance of the lead detective but she also tries to get into Franklin's head and speculate upon his thoughts as he perpetrated his crimes. The author brings the scenes to life with many vivid details. At many times, the reader feels as if they are in the room with the characters. Truth is always stranger than fiction and this book helps prove it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bill reilly

    Back in 1978, the adult magazine publisher Larry Flynt was shot and paralyzed. Blood in the Soil is a riveting account of the shooter, Joseph Paul Franklin. The psychopath was raised in Mobile, Alabama and aligned with the American Nazi Party of the 1970’s who preached hatred against n****** and Jews who were destroying the country. Ironically, Flynt was neither black nor Jewish. He had grown up poor in the mountains of Kentucky. After reading “Mein Kampf” in high school, Franklin joined the KKK Back in 1978, the adult magazine publisher Larry Flynt was shot and paralyzed. Blood in the Soil is a riveting account of the shooter, Joseph Paul Franklin. The psychopath was raised in Mobile, Alabama and aligned with the American Nazi Party of the 1970’s who preached hatred against n****** and Jews who were destroying the country. Ironically, Flynt was neither black nor Jewish. He had grown up poor in the mountains of Kentucky. After reading “Mein Kampf” in high school, Franklin joined the KKK. The Christmas 1975 edition of Flynt’s Hustler magazine featured a series of explicit photographs of a black man and a white woman. Flynt’s obscenity trial in Georgia provided the opportunity for Franklin’s rage. Gwinnett County was once Cherokee land until the 1800’s when they were forced out and on to Oklahoma in the infamous Trail of Tears march. Cotton became king and tens of thousands of slaves worked the fields from dusk to dawn. Franklin’s sense of white entitlement stemmed from the regions sad and troubled history. Flynt was shot on a sidewalk by a .44 rifle from a building just blocks from the county courthouse. Franlkin drove away without being seen. Flynt nearly died from a loss of blood and was paralyzed by the .44 slug near his spine and the subsequent intense pain led to a long drug habit. Detective Mike Cowart was contacted by Franklin in 1983 in order to make a deal to be transferred from the Marion, Illinois prison where he had been stabbed by several black inmates. The killer admitted to shooting a boy as he left his bar mitzvah in St. Louis and the gunning down of an interracial couple in Tennessee. The killing spree spanned from 1977 to 1982. He was finally arrested in Kentucky with a stolen car. He confessed to 22 killings, 16 bank robberies and the bombings of several synagogues. After receiving six life sentences, Franklin was given a death sentence for the murder of the boy in St. Louis. Like an old and tired dog, J.P. Franklin was put to sleep was a nice dose of pentobarbital on November 20, 2013. Blood in the Soil is one hell of a good read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Trisha

    "Small town secrets and shame." I live in Gwinnett county, Georgia so I figured I should probably read this book. Somehow I had no idea that Larry Flynt was shot in Gwinnett county at the old courthouse building I just walked by last night....it's mind blowing to even think. But somewhere between the writing style and being in the head of the shooter made this not an enjoyable read. And I have to be honest - not being a native - I struggle to see a lot of differences from Georgia in the 70's and n "Small town secrets and shame." I live in Gwinnett county, Georgia so I figured I should probably read this book. Somehow I had no idea that Larry Flynt was shot in Gwinnett county at the old courthouse building I just walked by last night....it's mind blowing to even think. But somewhere between the writing style and being in the head of the shooter made this not an enjoyable read. And I have to be honest - not being a native - I struggle to see a lot of differences from Georgia in the 70's and now. The KKK is still active here and rally at Stone Mountain (also in Gwinnett County) at least once a year - 3 years ago, it bumped my oldest child's prom from Stone Mtn for fear of violence. It's just mind blowing that some people in the south still refer to the civil war as the War of Northern Aggression. It's disheartening and this book didn't add anything against the racism and horrible face the south can sometimes put forth.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carole Townsend

    Full d disclosure: I'm the author of this book. However, I would ld like to add that this true crime story earned me the 2017 GA Author of the Year - FINALIST designation in mystery/suspense. More importantly, the subject matter has kept this book in the news nearly 3 years since its April 2-016 publication. I say this not to boast, but to demonstrate the power of the message and the depth of what ails the United States as a nation. Yes, this is the riveting story of a twisted man who shot Larry Full d disclosure: I'm the author of this book. However, I would ld like to add that this true crime story earned me the 2017 GA Author of the Year - FINALIST designation in mystery/suspense. More importantly, the subject matter has kept this book in the news nearly 3 years since its April 2-016 publication. I say this not to boast, but to demonstrate the power of the message and the depth of what ails the United States as a nation. Yes, this is the riveting story of a twisted man who shot Larry Flynt in a small GA town in 1978, but the story is as relevant today as it was then, because the reason for the shooting is just as relevant. I hope you'll give this book a read, as the message is a powerful one. My Best, and Happy Reading! Carole Townsend

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Good book about a not well known serial killer I knew that Larry Flynt had been shot and paralyzed, but that's all I knew. I had never heard of Joseph Paul Franklin, despite the fact he murdered 20+ people and injured many more. The author puts the killings and shootings and bombings in context: Franklin's rotten childhood, Southern racial prejudice, poverty, the changing culture. It's an informative read that does a good job covering Franklin's life and execution. The one thing I wasn't crazy abo Good book about a not well known serial killer I knew that Larry Flynt had been shot and paralyzed, but that's all I knew. I had never heard of Joseph Paul Franklin, despite the fact he murdered 20+ people and injured many more. The author puts the killings and shootings and bombings in context: Franklin's rotten childhood, Southern racial prejudice, poverty, the changing culture. It's an informative read that does a good job covering Franklin's life and execution. The one thing I wasn't crazy about is how the author repeats information from one chapter to the next. But overall, well worth a read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Technically I didn’t finish this. I got within about 30 pages of the end and just couldn’t stand it any more. The writer was so repetitious — often within a page of each — that I couldn’t bear it any longer. Chapters being told in the 1st person by someone other than the author was a weird literary style.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jane Thompson

    True Crime This is a good book, though rather short. Joe Franklin was a well known killer during this time, though I had never read a book about him before. The author made a point of trying to explain why he was the way he was. It is a scary book

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This is the story of Joseph Paul Franklin, a serial murderer who went on a 3 year killing spree from 1977 to 1980. The book tells the story of his life, how he came to be a murderer, his crimes, and how he was caught. Amongst his crimes was the shooting of Larry Flynt, the much maligned publisher of Hustler magazine. The shooting left Flynt alive but paralyzed from the waist down and in constant pain. I was initially drawn to this book because of the Larry Flynt angle. In the conservative communi This is the story of Joseph Paul Franklin, a serial murderer who went on a 3 year killing spree from 1977 to 1980. The book tells the story of his life, how he came to be a murderer, his crimes, and how he was caught. Amongst his crimes was the shooting of Larry Flynt, the much maligned publisher of Hustler magazine. The shooting left Flynt alive but paralyzed from the waist down and in constant pain. I was initially drawn to this book because of the Larry Flynt angle. In the conservative community I was raised in Flynt was considered to be the height of evil. What I discovered in this book is that evil is much uglier than just publishing pornography. Joseph Paul Franklin had a hatred for Jews and black people that ran as deep as the river Styx. Every murder he committed was motivated by this hatred. He say himself as being on a mission from God to take revenge. The story is told alternately from the perspective of Joseph Franklin and that of Detective Michael Cowart, the lead investigator of the Larry Flynt shooting. I found the author’s telling to be compelling and well-researched. I think any fan of true crime would enjoy “Blood in the Soil”.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alisiya

    I would give this poorly written book zero stars if I could :/

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    Shallow overview of the man who confessed to the shooting of Larry Flynt.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

  15. 5 out of 5

    brian

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Renfrow

  17. 5 out of 5

    Connie Wiggins

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tamahrah W

  19. 4 out of 5

    GiGi Dawn Rockwell

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

  21. 5 out of 5

    Adrian Morris

  22. 5 out of 5

    ChristyT

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tana Poncsak

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mzfitted

  26. 5 out of 5

    Scott Freeman

  27. 5 out of 5

    John Archer

  28. 5 out of 5

    April Haugen

  29. 4 out of 5

    Eden

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mark

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