Books: The Heart of Darkness

ALL GOD'S DANGERS: THE LIFE OF NATE SHAW

by THEODORE ROSENGARTEN 561 pages. Knopf. $10.

Only an accident saved this astonishing narrative from oblivion. In 1969, Theodore Rosengarten, a young Amherst graduate, and a friend were doing research on a sharecroppers' union that surfaced briefly in Alabama during the Depression. Visiting the state, they stumbled across Nate Shaw, then 84, a onetime union member who had served twelve years in prison for resisting the trumped-up confiscation of a neighbor's property back in 1932. A single question, "Why did you join the union?" spurred the...

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