Alan Dershowitz’s Introduction to Dinnerstein’s The Leo Frank Case


By Alan M. Dershowitz

The trial, conviction, death sentence and its commutation and eventual lynching of Leo Frank during the second decade of the twentieth century, constitute a major episode not only in American legal history, but also in the development of American political institutions. The Knights of Mary Phagan, formed to avenge the murder of the young factory worker for which Frank was convicted, became an important component of the twentieth century resurrection of the Ku Klux Klan. The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith was founded in reaction to the anti-Semitism generated – or at least disclosed – by the Frank case.

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Leonard Dinnerstein: Artful Dodger of the Leo Frank Case

Leonard Dinnerstein

by Reed Miller

RETIRED ARIZONA Professor Emeritus of Judaic Studies, Leonard Dinnerstein, I am sorry to say, has joined the eternally dark pantheon of history-falsifiers. Dinnerstein is best known for being a scholar of the Leo Frank case. He doesn’t deserve to be so known.

Dinnerstein’s book The Leo Frank Case is shameless falsification of history. It is an embarrassment to American scholarship. Dinnerstein verifiably omitted some 99% of the facts contained in the 1,800 page official Leo M. Frank Georgia Legal Record that encompasses the 1913 murder trial of Frank and his State Supreme Court Appeals from 1913 through 1914. These legal records fortunately survived in their entirety into the 21st century — and they show us clearly how Dinnerstein cherry-picked his sources to give a bizarrely skewed view of the case.

Despite its essential worthlessness, Dinnerstein’s book has gone through edition after edition…

Dinnerstein has, to speak frankly (no pun intended), a racist agenda. He seems to want to perpetuate Jewish-gentile conflict by imputing anti-Semitism to 1913 Atlantans, when nothing could be further from the truth. And, just like the Frank legal team a century ago, he tries to lay the blame for Mary Phagan’s murder on an innocent Black man. Students of law and history should study the primary sources of the Leo Frank case — and then cross-reference them with any and every edition (from 1968 to today, there are many) of Dinnerstein’s book. They’ll soon see the real Leonard Dinnerstein at work. It’s not a pretty sight. Doubtless the great Professor Emeritus didn’t anticipate the easy availability of these primary source documents since the rise of the Internet, or he would have been more careful.

The main purpose of The Leo Frank Case is to smear the people of the South as violent Jew-haters (actually, the South was the most solidly pro-Jewish section of the United States then, and is now); defame one of the greatest statesmen of the Southern progressive era, Hugh Dorsey, as an unscrupulous political climber; perpetuate unfounded racist allegations against African-Americans; and shamelessly rehabilitate the image of Atlanta’s B’nai B’rith President, Leo M. Frank — the serial rapist-pedophile (see: GA Supreme Court Records, 1913, 1914), strangler, and convicted child killer. Quite an ambitious combination that might well daunt any author — I have to grant Professor D. a six-pointed gold star for audacious chutzpah. Frank was convicted in 1913 for bludgeoning, raping, garroting, and ordering the necro-mutilation of 13-year-old Mary Anne Phagan who worked in the sweatshop he operated in Atlanta, the National Pencil Company.

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The Leo Frank Case: A Pseudo-History

Leonard Dinnerstein

Leonard Dinnerstein

by Elliot Dashfield

a review of The Leo Frank Case by Leonard Dinnerstein, University of Georgia Press

IN 1963, nearly a half century after the sensational trial and lynching of Leo Frank become a national cause célèbre, a graduate student named Leonard Dinnerstein (pictured) decided to make the Frank case the subject of his PhD thesis. Three years later, Dinnerstein submitted his dissertation to the political science department of Columbia University — and his thesis became the basis of his 1968 book, The Leo Frank Case. Dinnerstein’s book has undergone numerous tweaks, additions, and revisions over the years – more than a half dozen editions have been published. His latest version, published in 2008, is the culmination of his nearly 50 years of research into the Leo Frank affair.

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