Mississippi, a state long recognized for its great writers and their widely-recognized literary contributions, has a new author on the scene. Stokes McMillan, a native of Attala County who now lives in Houston, Texas, has recently published his first book, "One Night of Madness," and early sales show the book is already a huge success. McMillan's book, which grew out of his interest in a scrapbook he inherited from his mother that contained photos taken by his late father, is the result of over seven years of research, interviews, and skilled writing that brings the details of the story all together.
The setting for "One Night of Madness" is Attala County, Mississippi, where several generations of McMillan's own family once lived and where his father was a photographer for the local newspaper owned by his family, The Star-Herald. The cover of the book itself is a copy of an actual photograph taken by the author's father, Billy McMillan, a photograph that won him an award for Best Picture of 1950 from the National Press Club.
As he develops the backdrop for this book about the murder of a black family by three white men, McMillan, uses his personal knowledge of Attala County and his appealing and easy-to-follow descriptive writing to intricately tell a story that began several decades before the tragic events of early 1950 unfolded. His keen use of detailed information gleaned during personal interviews with certain central characters in the book allow the reader to become intimately acquainted with the real people about whom the story is told. Throughout the book, the author further documents this true story that drew national attention with copies of more photographs taken by his father and with facts about the people and the events he uncovered during years of research in various archives.
"One Night of Madness" is a book that I highly recommend. It has all the elements of a successful movie, including love, race, fear, revenge, politics, and courtroom drama. And for me, reading the book was a spell-binding experience, one that I will not forget. I expect we will see more books by this talented new author - I sincerely hope so.