816 pages; Amistad
In 1883—some 72 years before Rosa Parks refused to budge—four passengers and a conductor dragged the seething, scratching journalist and civil rights crusader Ida B. Wells from a whites-only train car. In Ida: A Sword Among Lions (Amistad), Paula Giddings painstakingly recounts Wells's evolution from the daughter of slaves in rural Mississippi to Memphis schoolteacher and, finally, scrappy muckraker whose editorials accused Southern white men of fabricating rape charges to justify lynching. After thugs gutted her newspaper office and fired death threats, Ida migrated north and pushed for reform from New York and Chicago while launching an antilynching campaign in England. At last, a groundbreaking biography gives this warrior her due.
— Kristy Davis