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A myth-shattering narrative of how a nation embraced "separation" and its pernicious consequences.

Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court case synonymous with "separate but equal," created remarkably little stir when the justices announced their near-unanimous decision on May 18, 1896. Yet it is one of the most compelling and dramatic stories of the nineteenth century, whose outcome embraced and protected segregation, and whose reverberations are still felt into the twenty-first.

Separate spans a striking range of characters and landscapes, bound together by the defining issue of their time and ours -- race and equality. Wending its way through a half-century of American history, the narrative begins at the dawn of the railroad age, in the North, home to the nation's first separate railroad car, then moves briskly through slavery and the Civil War to Reconstruction and its aftermath, as separation took root in nearly every aspect of American life.

Award-winning author Steve Luxenberg draws from letters, diaries, and archival collections to tell the story of Plessy v. Ferguson through the eyes of the people caught up in the case. Separate depicts indelible figures such as the resisters from the mixed-race community of French New Orleans, led by Louis Martinet, a lawyer and crusading newspaper editor; Homer Plessy's lawyer, Albion Tourgée, a best-selling author and the country's best-known white advocate for civil rights; Justice Henry Billings Brown, from antislavery New England, whose majority ruling endorsed separation; and Justice John Harlan, the Southerner from a slaveholding family whose singular dissent cemented his reputation as a steadfast voice for justice.

Sweeping, swiftly paced, and richly detailed, Separate provides a fresh and urgently-needed exploration of our nation's most devastating divide.

22 black and white photographs



About the Author

Steve Luxenberg

Steve Luxenberg, an associate editor at The Washington Post, has worked for more than 30 years as a newspaper editor and reporter.

Steve's critically-acclaimed nonfiction book, Annie's Ghosts: A Journey Into a Family Secret--part detective story, part history, part memoir--revolves around his mother's decision to hide the existence of a sister, Annie, who was institutionalized for 31 years in an asylum near Detroit. Annie's Ghosts was named to The Washington Post's Best Books of 2009 list, and was honored as a 2010 Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan. It made the Heartland Bestsellers list, representing the independent bookstores of the Midwest.

It has been featured on NPR's All Things Considered. The Michigan Humanities Council has selected the book as "The Great Michigan Read" for 2013-2014; it will be the focus of a year-long series of events and discussions throughout the state.

Steve's newspaper career began at The Baltimore Sun in 1974. He joined The Post in 1985 as deputy of the investigative staff, headed by assistant managing editor Bob Woodward. In 1991, he succeeded Woodward as head of the investigative staff. Post reporters working with Steve have won several major reporting awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes for explanatory journalism.

From 1996 to 2006, Steve was the editor of The Post's Sunday Outlook section, which publishes original reporting and provocative commentary on a broad spectrum of political, historical and cultural issues.

Steve has given talks and workshops about journalism issues and nonfiction writing at universities and discussion forums, and has made occasional guest appearances on radio and television shows to discuss the media. He also has a television "credit": Look carefully, and you'll see him as an extra in the fifth and final season of HBO's dramatic series, "The Wire," which aired in 2008. (Hint: It's a newsroom scene in episode three, and he's shaking his head.)

In his current role as a Post associate editor focusing on special projects, Steve has directed coverage of in-depth stories on the causes and consequences of the financial crisis that unfolded in the fall of 2008. One of those projects, on the rise and fall of insurance giant AIG, was a 2009 Pulitzer finalist.

He grew up in Detroit, where Annie's Ghosts primarily takes place. He and his wife, Mary Jo Kirschman, a school librarian, live in Baltimore. They have two grown children, Josh and Jill.



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