WHAT VIRTUE THERE IS IN FIRE was named the winner of this year's Malcolm Bell Jr. and Muriel Barrow Bell Award at the Georgia Historical Society's annual meeting Thursday.
The award recognizes the best book in Georgia history published in the preceding year. A list of previous winners can be found here.
In his book, Arnold approaches the study of the 1899 lynching of Sam Hose in Newnan, Georgia through close analysis of newspaper accounts, letters and speeches at the time of the incident and in the decades thereafter. Arnold's work seeks to more fully understand how different versions of this history were used to serve different interests.
As noted by ForeWord Reviews, the case is thought to be the inspiration for the Newnan-born writer Erskine Caldwell's TROUBLE IN JULY, and also provoked the interest of Margaret Mitchell and William Faulkner. The reviewer concludes: "Depending upon whom you believe, Sam Hose was either a family-destroying killer or the innocent victim of a skewed and Southern brand of bad justice. That he was tracked, captured, hung, and dismembered is not in dispute. Author Arnold compiles prodigious research from both sides and chooses to let the reader decide, while still not letting history off the hook."