A Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of the Year
On April 5, 1976, as the city of Boston simmered with racial tension over forced school busing, newsman Stanley Forman arrived at City Hall to photograph that day’s protest. He was just in time to snap the image that his editor would title “The Soiling of Old Glory.” A white man, rage written on his face, lunges to spear a black man who is being held by another white with a flag pole bearing the American flag. The photo made headlines across the U.S. and won Forman his second Pulitzer Prize. It shocked Boston, and America: Racial strife had not only not ended with the 1960s, it was alive and well in the land of liberty.
In this “biography of a photograph,” Louis P. Masur examines the power of photography and the meaning of the flag, asking why this one picture had so much impact. Most poignantly, Masur recreates the moment and its aftermath, drawing on extensive interviews with Forman and the figures in the photo to reveal not just how the incident happened, but how it changed the lives of the men in it. The Soiling of Old Glory
, like the photograph after which it is named, offers a dramatic window onto the turbulence of the 1970s and race relations in America.