Alex Heard

Alex Heard is the Editorial Director of Outside magazine and has also edited and written for The New York Times Magazine, Wired, The New Republic, Slate, and many other publications. Heard's first book is APOCALYPSE PRETTY SOON: TRAVELS IN END-TIME AMERICA, a fascinating and sometimes frightening trip into the realm of America's most intensely religious and political believers.

His most recent book is THE EYES OF WILLIE MCGEE, the gripping story of the execution of a black man accused of raping a white woman in the American South that became an international incident at the height of the Cold War when the Communist Party funded McGee's defense.


The Eyes of Willie McGee: A Tragedy of Race, Sex, and Secrets in the Jim Crow South

John Grisham, author of THE INNOCENT MAN: "The case of Willie McGee is an enduring mystery, but there's no doubt he was the victim of a primitive and unfair judicial system. Alex Heard's excellent account of his life and death is tragic, sad, and very compelling."

Walter Isaacson, author of EINSTEIN and STEVE JOBS: "The case of Willie McGee became one of the celebrated causes at the dawn of the Civil Rights movement. In this riveting personal journey of discovery and investigation, Alex Heard explores the political and social forces at play and then peels them away to reveal the fascinating human drama under it all. It's like a real-life TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, but with even more subtleties, drama, and complexities."

New York Times Book Review: "Gritty, precise reporting . . . he succeeds impressively [in placing] the story in the historical context of the civil rights movement."

Washington Post: "Alex Heard, a veteran journalist who grew up in Mississippi, uncovers a story that is a good deal more intriguing, if less dramatic, than Harper Lee's iconic Southern novel . . . Heard has produced a book that, in arresting prose, captures a significant slice of the past and a case whose verdict was all but preordained."

Chicago Tribune: "A book that should be must reading for serious students of 20th century U.S. history."

Douglas Brinkley, author of THE GREAT DELUGE: "Alex Heard's THE EYES OF WILLIE MCGEE is going to win a slew of prestigious awards. A stout case can now be made that the execution of McGee in 1951 launched the civil rights movement. A stunning narrative achievement based on a bevy of new documentary evidence. Essential reading for all Americans."

Jon Meacham, author of AMERICAN LION: "In this gripping story of a world at once remote yet painfully familiar, Alex Heard has crafted a memorable narrative of a civil rights case that deserves a larger place in American memory."

Publishers Weekly: "An iconic criminal case--a black man sentenced to death for raping a white woman in Mississippi in 1945--exposes the roiling tensions of the early civil rights era in this provocative study . . . Heard finds no easy answers, but his nuanced, evocative portrait of the passions enveloping McGee's case is plenty revealing."

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Watch Alex Heard discuss the book:

The Eyes of Willie McGee from Regal Literary on Vimeo.

Apocalypse Pretty Soon: Travels in End-Time America

"[A] funny, unsettling, crank-packed book.... Heard's mix of humorous skepticism for these obsessed, unquenchable characters results in an engagingly sane book that acknowledges the cultural need for eccentrics and weirdos and also the cultural need to keep an idea on them."

New York Post: "Hysterical.... Heard's compassion for society's outcasts, bound together in a struggle against the clock and convention, is powerful and compelling." - Entertainment Weekly

"Funny, opinionated, boldly subjective, fascinating, and entertaining." - Library Journal