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In 1933, a nightmare shook the quiet town of San Jose, California, when a young man named Brooke Hart was abducted while leaving his father’s department store. In the days that followed, the Harts, local and state police, and J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI scrambled to outwit the kidnappers, whose demands kept them at bay until they—and Brook Hart’s murder—were at last discovered.
Then the unthinkable: A band of vigilantes stormed the San Jose jail and hanged the two criminals in the town square as ten thousand watched. The next day the governor hailed the lynching as “a fine lesson”.
The San Jose lynching, which divided the nation and haunts the city still, is a chilling tale of fear, fury, and the collapse of justice—of a small American paradise turned inferno.