Bluff County, S.C. 1950
While Frank Finklea and his muckmates were sloughing trees out of the primal ooze, engineers in silver safety helmets stood off to the side drawing imaginary lines in the air. There was talk they were building the world’s biggest bomb factory. That’s why there was so much secrecy surrounding the project. The feds had bought up 300 square miles of rural South Carolina so it would have plenty of buffer if anything went wrong.
And there was plenty that could go wrong.
Finklea’s survival instincts drew him out of the swampland to become one of the most powerful men in the state. As he ruthlessly built his empire, Finklea cared little for those he left in his wake: his trusting father-in-law, his beautiful, brutalized wife, his troubled mistress, and his gentle son. He gave no thought to the poor blacks he exploited or the neighbors he humiliated. Yet as time and the Savannah River flow through Bluff County, Finklea’s sins were carried out of the swamps and into the open. In a single, violent day, decades of racial conflict and government corruption explode in South Carolina.
Swallow Savannah is the story of a rural southern community caught between one man’s all-consuming ambition and the dawning reality of civil rights.