Book

Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Mobster

Cover of the book titled "Invisible."

Stephen L. Carter, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law

(Henry Holt and Co.)

Eunice Hunton Carter, Stephen Carter’s grandmother, was raised in a world of stultifying expectations about race and gender. Yet by the 1940s, her professional and political successes had made her one of the most famous black women in America.

Eunice Carter was a graduate of Smith College and the granddaughter of slaves, and without the strategy she devised as a prosecutor, Lucky Luciano, the most powerful Mafia boss in history, would never have been convicted. When special prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey selected 20 lawyers to help him clean up the city’s underworld, she was the only member of his team who was not a white male.

However her triumphs were shadowed by prejudice and tragedy. Greatly complicating her rise was her difficult relationship with her younger brother, Alphaeus, an avowed Communist who — together with his friend Dashiell Hammett — would go to prison during the McCarthy era. Yet she remained unbowed.