Literary Giants: When Good Men Do Nothing

During the 1940s and '50s, Phenix City, located in Alabama just across the state line from Columbus, Georgia, was considered to be "the most corrupt city in America." Known as "Sin City," the town's economy was based on prostitution, gambling, and bootlegging. In June of 1954, a time of great change in the state, Albert Patterson, the Democratic Party's Nominee for state attorney general, was assassinated as he was leaving his law office in Phenix City. Making the cleaning up of Phenix City his primary campaign promise had not endeared him to locals. Illegal income had become a way of life for politicians and businessmen in the area and no one wanted to see the status quo changed. Alan Grady has researched his topic thoroughly. Using the transcripts from the state's murder case, Patterson's private papers, National Guard reports, files from the Office of the Alabama Attorney General, and case files as well as interviews, the author has reconstructed the events surrounding Patterson's death. (Pam Kingsbury)