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  • Gary May, Professor Emeritus of History in the History Department at the University of Delaware

    Professor Emeritus of History
    University of Delaware
    Newark, DE 19716


    ​Gary May specializes in American political, diplomatic, and social history since 1945. He received his Ph.D. from U.C.L.A. in 1974. He is the author of China Scapegoat: The Diplomatic Ordeal of John Carter Vincent (1979), Un-American Activities: The Trials of William Remington (1994), The Informant: The FBI, the Ku Klux Klan and the Murder of Viola Liuzzo (2005), John Tyler in the American Presidents Series edited by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. and Sean Wilentz (2008) and Bending Toward Justice: The Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American Democracy (2013).



    • Bending Toward Justice: The Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American Democracy (Basic Books, 2013).
    • John Tyler in the American Presidents Series. Edited by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. and Sean Wilentz (Times Book, 2008).
    • The Informant: The FBI, the Ku Klux Klan and the Murder of Viola Liuzzo (Yale University Press, 2005).
    • Un-American Activities: The Trials of William Remington (Oxford University Press, 1994).
    • China Scapegoat: The Diplomatic Ordeal of John Carter Vincent (New Republic Books, 1979).





Bending Toward Justice: The Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American DemocracyMay, GaryBasic Books2013<p>​When the Fifteenth Amendment of 1870 granted African Americans the right to vote, it seemed as if a new era of political equality was at hand. Before long, however, white segregationists across the South counterattacked, driving their black countrymen from the polls through a combination of sheer terror and insidious devices such as complex literacy tests and expensive poll taxes. Most African Americans would remain voiceless for nearly a century more, citizens in name only until the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act secured their access to the ballot.In <em>Bending Toward Justice</em>, celebrated historian Gary May describes how black voters overcame centuries of bigotry to secure and preserve one of their most important rights as American citizens. The struggle that culminated in the passage of the Voting Rights Act was long and torturous, and only succeeded because of the courageous work of local freedom fighters and national civil rights leaders—as well as, ironically, the opposition of Southern segregationists and law enforcement officials, who won public sympathy for the voting rights movement by brutally attacking peaceful demonstrators. But while the Voting Rights Act represented an unqualified victory over such forces of hate, May explains that its achievements remain in jeopardy. Many argue that the 2008 election of President Barack Obama rendered the act obsolete, yet recent years have seen renewed efforts to curb voting rights and deny minorities the act's hard-won protections. Legal challenges to key sections of the act may soon lead the Supreme Court to declare those protections unconstitutional.A vivid, fast-paced history of this landmark piece of civil rights legislation, <em>Bending Toward Justice</em> offers a dramatic, timely account of the struggle that finally won African Americans the ballot—although, as May shows, the fight for voting rights is by no means over.</p>
John Tyler in the American Presidents SeriesMay, Gary Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. and Sean WilentzTimes Book/Henry Holt and Co.2008<p>​Traces the events of the tenth executive leader's presidency from his unexpected ascent after the premature death of William Henry Harrison and unpopular veto of a proposed Bank of the United States to his indirect role in promoting secession.</p>
The Informant: The FBI, the Ku Klux Klan and the Murder of Viola LiuzzoMay, GaryYale University Press2005<p>​"In The Informant, historian Gary May reveals the untold story of the murder of civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo, shot to death by members of the violent Birmingham Ku Klux Klan at the end of Martin Luther King's historic Voting Rights March in 1965. The case drew national attention and was solved almost instantly, because one of the Klansmen present during the shooting was Gary Thomas Rowe, an undercover FBI informant. At the time, Rowe's information and subsequent testimony were heralded as a triumph of law enforcement. But as Gary May reveals in this provocative and powerful book, Rowe's history of collaboration with both the Klan and the FBI was far more complex. Based on previously unexamined FBI and Justice Department records, The Informant demonstrates that in its ongoing efforts to protect Rowe's cover, the FBI knowingly became an accessory to some of the most grotesque crimes of the civil rights era--including a vicious attack on the Freedom Riders and perhaps even the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. A tale of a renegade informant and an intelligence system ill prepared to deal with threats from within, The Informant offers a dramatic and cautionary tale about what can happen when secret police power goes unchecked."</p>
Un-American Activities: The Trials of William RemingtonMay, GaryOxford University Press1994<p>​In 1948, William W. Remington was one of the bright young men in the Truman administration. He was tall and handsome, a product of Dartmouth and Columbia. From 1940 on, he had risen through government ranks, serving on wartime boards, the President's Council of Economic Advisors, and eventually as a major official in the Department of Commerce, with a promising future ahead. By 1954, however, Remington was dead - assassinated in his cell by a team of inmates in a high-security Federal prison. In Un-American Activities, historian Gary May tells the fascinating story of William Remington - a story of intrigue, injustice, government corruption, and anti-Communist hysteria. May labored for eight years in reconstructing Remington's case, searching through FBI files and government documents, and waging an epic battle against then U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani to become the first historian to obtain access to grand jury records. The result is a brilliant account of one man's tragic odyssey and a government run amok. Remington's future collapsed in 1948, when he was charged with being a Communist and a Soviet spy. The accuser was Elizabeth Bentley, an admitted ex-Communist herself and a former courier for Soviet spymasters. Remington's life fell into a whirlpool as he fought government improprieties, illegalities, and the assumption he was guilty. Cleared by government loyalty boards, he was indicted by a grand jurywhose foreman was secretly helping Elizabeth Bentley prepare her memoirs. Remington suffered through two trials for perjury, and the chief witness against him was his own embittered ex-wife. He was convicted and sentenced to the federal penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where his reputation as a Communist preceded him. But May's account also offers fascinating insight into the depth of Soviet penetration into wartime America: As he follows Remington's life from the radical circles at Dartmouth and the Tennessee Valley Authority in the 1930s through his Washington career, he finds that Remington may well have been guilty of the charges against him. Gary May is one of the leading historians writing about postwar America. His first book, China Scapegoat, won the Allan Nevins Prize and was hailed as being "as well-written as a novel, as powerful as a good film" by The Los Angeles Times. Here he brings his analytical and narrative skills to bear on one of the forgotten stories of the McCarthy era, uncovering a gripping tale of espionage, corruption, and personal tragedy.</p>
China Scapegoat: The Diplomatic Ordeal of John Carter VincentMay, GaryNew Republic Books1979

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