Reviewed by J. Keith Jones
In “Winston & Salem: Tales of Murder, Mystery and Mayhem” Jennifer Bean Bower tells the bloody old history of the twin cities of North Carolina. Winston-Salem resulted from the merger of two smaller cities whose downtown areas were separated by mere blocks. Despite being separate the towns of Winston and Salem had been referred to collectively as Winston Salem for some time before their official merger in 1913. The main distinction between the two was religious. Salem was one of the early Moravian communities in North Carolina and home to Salem College and Academy.
As associate curator of photographic collections at Old Salem Museums and Gardens, Bower has unusual access to the stories and photographic history of Winston-Salem and this book reflects it. This book – as noted in the preface – is not a feel good soft and fuzzy history of the area. Instead, it is a recounting of the two cities’ most gruesome and tragic events during their early years as separate towns.
Written in an easy and interesting style, “Winston & Salem” is as fun as it is scarey. If you are a follower of North Carolina history – particularly the Piedmont Triad – this book is not to be missed.