Drawn Into Hell

Non-Fiction - True Crime
176 Pages
Reviewed on 02/25/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Drawn into Hell is a work of non-fiction in the true crime, legal and social issues subgenres. It is best suited to the mature adult reading audience owing to references and descriptions of graphic violence, murder, racial abuse, prejudice, and discrimination. Penned by Don Vanlandingham Sr., the work takes us through the events leading up to, surrounding, and after the incident on June 21, 1964, where three young men in Mississippi were murdered for their involvement in helping people of color get access to voter registration and rights. Told in a narrative, novel style, the work follows the exploits of the struggle for justice in a time when no white person had ever been convicted for their crimes against people of color.

Don Vanlandingham Sr. takes readers on a journey through some of the darkest moments of American and modern social history, and he does it with a compelling sense of drama, timing, and narrative skill that will engage fans of crime fiction just as much as true crime readers. I was especially impressed by the raw honesty of the work in discussing many of the mistakes and ignorance happening at the time amongst ordinary people who, although not explicitly racist themselves, sat idly by as organizations like the Ku Klux Klan gained power around them. The book was both interesting and educational, but also emotive and harrowing in a way that I’ll remember for a long time ahead. Drawn into Hell is a compelling and essential read for anyone with an interest in learning more about social history and racial injustice.

Lex Allen

Drawn Into Hell by Don Vandlandingham, Sr. investigates what happened on June 21, 1964, when three young men were murdered in a small town in Mississippi by the Ku Klux Klan. Their crime; helping black people register to vote for the first time in the Jim Crow era of American history. The case became known as the Mississippi Burning case that monopolized the evening news for weeks in American homes across the nation. This is but one of the dozens of major crimes and atrocities perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan and offshoot groups on slaves and black citizens since the history of the United States began, most of which have been buried and hidden from history.

Drawn Into Hell by Don Vandlandingham, Sr. is both a fascinating and horrifyingly true story of a single event among thousands based upon racial division and hatred that has dominated the history of the United States since before the Declaration of Independence and the adoption of the Constitution. Unlike many non-fiction books that ultimately become bogged down and boring in the sheer quantity of facts, Vanlandingham has written this story in a fictional format that brings the events and the characters to life, and the reader is not only hooked on the historical aspects but also thoroughly entertained, eagerly turning the pages to learn what happens next.

Alma Boucher

Drawn Into Hell by Don Vanlandingham Sr is a true crime story about an American tragedy in 1964. To hold onto white dominance, people of color were kept from voting. A decision is made to send volunteers to Mississippi to help people of color register as voters. Three civil rights workers volunteer to go to Mississippi to assist with the registration. They go missing on their arrival on June 21, 1964. Everyone knows the Ku Klux Klan is responsible. Their disappearance starts the greatest manhunt in history which is known as MIBURN. Ben Hawkins is asked to interview people of color about any injustice done to them by the Ku Klux Klan. Ben wants to make a difference and his investigation reveals the Ku Klux Klan.

Drawn Into Hell is detailed and well-researched. Don Vanlandingham Sr. takes readers back in time with historical events, introducing us to the life of oppressed people of color because whites were not willing to coexist with them. It was heartbreaking to read what they had to endure; even the Ku Klux Klan members were not safe from each other. The storyline is detailed and engaging and I was intrigued from the start and had a hard time putting it down. It is beautifully written and packed with action, human cruelty, and politics. The characters are carefully recreated and match their parts in the story as historical events and characters are woven together. I enjoyed reading this book.