GJB: Your first book, “Kings Of Tort,” was released just a few months ago. What was the first real surprise or shock for you? Holding the actual copy for the first time, reading your first review or watching someone purchase it?
Lange: The biggest surprise for me was the reactions that we got at our signings. I have had literally dozens of people at signings come up and express how much this narrative was needed to bring some closure and perspective to a very complicated series of events. People at these signings regularly relayed to me their experiences that they’ve had with people mentioned in the book that will likely never see the light of day. That confirmed to us that these weren’t just isolated series of events. It’s even more clear to me now that these people featured in the book cut a pretty wide swath across the business, political and legal landscape of Mississippi and have left a lot of damage in their wake.
GJB: Did you tone down any of your personal political convictions to make the book more objective?
Lange: This was not a political work to begin with. We reached out to every single person of any importance in this book and asked them to participate with an interview without any preconditions. With over 200 factual assertions and over a 30 page reference section, my co-author and I made every attempt to lay out what happened as factually as possible. When you do that, you really don’t leave much room to play it any other way than straight down the middle. In the last chapter of the book, we did make an attempt to connect the dots and explain what we thought the narrative actually means, but ultimately, we left it to the readers to decide.
GJB: Most people in Mississippi claim to know the story of Dickie Scruggs, his accomplices and their downfall—why, then, did you deem the book necessary to write in the first place?
Lange: My co-author and I were shocked at the amount of misinformation that was in the public domain throughout the reporting of the story as it happened. The story was simply to complicated to tell in a 90 second TV package or a few column inches of newsprint. A long narrative form was the only way the story could be adequately told. There will be other attempts to tell this story, but we were both convinced that no one would tell the story in a factual way. My only hope is that they follow our example of putting all the information in the public domain and letting the chips fall where they may.
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