Nossiter, Adam 1961-
NOSSITER, Adam 1961-
PERSONAL: Born 1961; married. Education: Graduated from Harvard University (French history).
ADDRESSES: Home—2828 Coliseum St., New Orleans, LA 70115.
Of Long Memory: Mississippi and the Murder of Medgar Evers, Addison-Wesley (Reading, MA), 1994.
The Algeria Hotel: France, Memory, and the Second World War, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2001.
SIDELIGHTS: Adam Nossiter grew up in Paris, where his father was stationed as a correspondent. He returned to America and studied French history at Harvard, then worked as a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In 1991, he left his job there to spend time writing his first book.
Of Long Memory: Mississippi and the Murder of Medgar Evers examines the retrial of the murderer of civil rights activist Medgar Evers. In December of 1990, Byron de la Beckwith was indicted for the 1963 murder; in 1964, he had been released after two hung juries failed to convict him, even though the evidence was overwhelming that he had committed the crime. Beckwith escaped because at that time in Mississippi, racist attitudes ensured that no white person would be convicted for the murder of an African American. However, times changed, and at the retrial, justice was done. The book examines the careers of Evers, Beckwith, Mississippi governor Bill Waller, district attorney Bobby DeLaughter, Medgar Evers's brother Charles, and the white supremacist movement in Mississippi over the three decades between the trials. In the Washington Post Book World, Marilyn Chandler McEntyre wrote, "Each story provides a different angle of vision on America's high tolerance for bigotry." A Kirkus Reviews writer called Nossiter "a perceptive, observant journalist," and described the book as "wellresearched, fluidly written, and thoughtful."
Of Loving Memory helped Nossiter get a job as a journalist with the New York Times, where he worked for two years before beginning his next book, The Algeria Hotel: France, Memory, and the Second World War. Over the next three years, he traveled to Bordeaux, Vichy, and Paris, researching events that occured there during World War II. Vichy was the capital of Marshal Philippe Petain's government, which collaborated with the Nazis during that war, but this unsavory history has largely been swept under the rug and ignored by its citizens and historical society alike. Rather, citizens selectively remember how many Jewish people they saved from the Nazis, or remember small details rather than the whole. Regarding a day of mass hangings, people who were present recall German officers gorging on fresh cherries or the accordion music that played throughout the executions rather than the executions themselves. The historical society focuses on architecture from pre-Nazi eras; in the whole town, there is only one little-known plaque acknowledging any of the unsavory events of the collaborationist government era.
Before writing his book, Nossiter interviewed French people from all parts of society about the region's history and the collaborationist government. The book first examines the trial of Maurice Papon, who was charged with crimes against humanity for assisting in the deportation of Jews from Vichy to Nazi concentration camps. Next, it explores the town of Vichy and its collective attempt to forget and deny the era; and third, it discusses the execution of almost one hundred men in the town of Tulle by German troops. Nossiter examines the rationalizations and justifications that French people have used to ignore their participation in the Nazi death machine. In Newsweek International, Christopher Dickey wrote, "This is not a polemic, nor a dry analytic history. It's an elegantly written and deeply troubling portrait of humanity touched by enormous inhumanity." Lucy Hughes-Hallett wrote in the Sunday Times, "Nossiter's book is a study of the way that memories, individual and collective, accommodate intolerable historical fact." In the Daily Telegraph, Allan Massie wrote, "Memory is really Nossiter's forte: what people choose to recall and what to forget, what they are unable to recall or to forget."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 2001, Jay Freeman, review of The Algeria Hotel: France, Memory, and the Second World War, p. 1832.
Business and Society Review, summer, 1994, review of Of Long Memory: Mississippi and the Murder of Medgar Evans, p 76.
Daily Telegraph (London, England), August 18, 2001, Allan Massie, "What Do You Do When You Lose a War?"
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 1994, review of Of Long Memory, p. 463.
Library Journal, June 1, 1994, p. 130; June 1, 2001, Michael F. Russo, review of The Algeria Hotel, p. 186.
New York Times, August 12, 2001, "France's Dark Years," p. 4; August 1, 2002, p. B7.
New York Times Book Review, July 24, 1994, p. 16; July 15, 2001, Christopher Caldwell, "France's Native Disgrace," p. 9.
Newsweek International, August 27, 2001, Christopher Dickey, "Recollecting World War II," p. 50.
Publishers Weekly, April 11, 1994, review of Of Long Memory, p. 46; June 25, 2001, review of The Algeria Hotel, p. 64.
San Francisco Chronicle, August 26, 2001, John McMurtrie, "France's Painful Past," p. 80.
Sunday Times (London, England), August 19, 2001, Lucy Hughes-Hallett, "Learning to Live with Lessons of Collaboration," p. 40.
Washington Post, July 8, 2001, Susie Linfield, "What Lies Beneath," p. T04.
Washington Post Book World, July 10, 1994, review of Of Long Memory, p. 11.
Sudouesthttp://www.sudouest.com/ (February 6, 2003), Dominique Richard, "Regard d'un journaliste americain."
Welcome to the Best of New Orleans!,http://www/bestofneworleans.com/ (December 2, 2001), Jason Berry, "A&E Feature: Collaborative Effort."*