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Slaves in the Family

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Good

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Book Overview

More than twenty years after this celebrated work of narrative nonfiction won the National Book Award and changed the American conversation about race, Slaves in the Family is reissued by FSG... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Remarkable story

This is a remarkable story of Edward Ball's search for the descendants of the slaves acquired by his family once upon a time. The author's pursuit takes him across the U.S., and to Africa.I enjoyed reading about the origins of Mr. Ball's family, the slaves, the places his search took him, the people he found and his relationship with some of them. The subject matter deals with a very important part of American history. You won't regret reading this book. Fafa Demasio

Couldn't Put it Down

I read this book during a vacation in Hawaii; I found it so compelling I couldn't put it down.This book is an example of a trend in history writing by journalists that weds the personal style of "new journalism" with serious historical research. The book is both a "personal" account of the Ball family ownership of slaves and a well-researched and thoughtful history of slavery in the United States. Some readers have commented that the book was difficult to read; I thought the writing was elegant and easy to follow - much easier to digest than academic writing. Some readers have felt the book was superficial or self-indulgent on the part of the writer. I didn't find it to be either - the winding of the story made sense and like a good plot led naturally from one part to the next. The research underneath the story was thorough, and the analysis was thoughtful.

Insightful, but a Challenging Book to Read

I enjoyed this book a great deal. It helped make me more aware of how intertwined the African-American and White-American communities really are. It also helped be better understand the African-American experience. For me, this book is another step in that process.I have to say, though, that this is a fairly hard book to read. It is written, in my opinion, like a documentary, not a story. So there are a lot of details that you have to wade through. Reading this book felt like walking through molasses. Every step was an effort.Please don't misunderstand me. That style was probably necessary. However, this is not a book you're going to get through on a flight somewhere.Unlike many books today, you're going to have to work some to get the meaning out of this terrific book. The end result is well worth the work.

well-written, powerful confrontation with evil and family

This book is a moving and emotionallly powerful exploration and confrontation by one South Carolina-born writer with the moral consequences of the actions of his slave-owning and -selling ancestors. "Slaves in the Family" recounts Edward Ball's painstaking research into the history of his family, the first of whom settled near Charlestion at the end of the 17th century. He learns that his ancestors not only owned slaves,but that 2 family branches were large-scale slave traders, importing human beings directly from West Africa, He searches out descendants of slaves who lived on Ball family plantations, preparing careful geneologies and scrupulously identifying and acknowledging black families as descended from his own white ancestors as well as slave women on the plantations. This is the source of the title; he and these black people are members of the same family. Ball goes further than any other work I have seen in following the historic trail all the way to Sierra Leone, searching not only for descendants of some freed Ball family slaves who settled there, but for African families whose ancestors were sellers of other Africans. Ball's reports of his meetings with these African families are some of the most moving passages in the book. He is not the only person who must struggle to acknowledge evil done by family members in the past. I highly recommend reading this book,especiallly for white folks,as a major contribution to the attempt to reconcile and heal the scars of Americans' shared racial tragedy. Cheryl B
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