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Winner of two 2013 Emmy Awards from the Southeast Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences

Today in Georgia History
is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.

May 2

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Murder in Savannah Inspires Bestselling Book

May 2, 1981 - Savannah
In Savannah it's "the book." John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was published in January 1994. The non-fiction account of antiques dealer Jim Williams' trial for murdering Danny Hansford became a major bestseller.

Waves of welcome tourists flooded Savannah, searching for the places and characters Berendt made famous: the Mercer House on Monterey Square; the Bird Girl statue in Bonaventure Cemetery; Emma Kelly, the lady of 6,000 songs; smooth-talking Joe Odom, inventor Luther Driggers, who kept flies tied to a string; Williams’s defense lawyer Sonny Seiler; and drag queen extraordinare Lady Chablis.

The book sold more than 3 million copies and spent a record 216 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. It -- and Clint Eastwood’s 1997 movie -- have helped power Savannah's $1 billion annual tourist industry.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil all began with Danny Hansford's homicide on May 2, 1981, Today in Georgia History.