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APRIL 21 & 22
Melissa Fay Greene’s 1991 Praying for Sheetrock is a little masterpiece. An account of the struggle to desegregate McIntosh County, Ga., in the ’70s, Sheetrock is great journalism that reads like a novel. But Greene’s second book, The Temple Bombing, is great journalism that reads like mediocre journalism. It recounts one of the many lowlights of the civil rights era, the 1958 bombing of Atlanta’s most prominent synagogue, probably by a cadre of anti-Semitic white supremacists (the alleged bombers, who were fringe-y, anti–federal government losers, bear a startling resemblance to today’s right-wing militiamen). Greene uses the bombing to explore how the civil rights movement fractured the uneasy alliance between Southern, integrationist Jews and other Southern whites. The Temple Bombing is meticulously reported, well-written, compassionate, and far, far too long. It drags on for nearly 450 pages, and its narrative thread tangles in aside after aside, minor character after minor character. Greene reads at 7 p.m. Sunday at Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 364-1919; at 7 p.m. Monday at Chapters, 1512 K St. NW. FREE. (202) 347-5495. (David Plotz)