Clif Hostetler's Reviews > Slaves In The Family

Slaves In The Family by Edward Ball
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's review
Oct 06, 2015

really liked it
bookshelves: history
Read in February, 2008

This book is written by a descendant of a South Carolina slave holding family who used his family's records to search for and find many of the living descendants of the slaves who had been owned by his ancestors. The narrative tells the stories of his search and his many interviews, and along the way he also tells the history of slavery in America. As best I can tell, the book tells things like they really were and doesn't try to protect his family's reputation. It's interesting to note that many of the slave descendants he interviewed were his distant cousins. Strong research and writing lead to stunning results in this story that won the National Book Award. I have to confess that I listened to an abridged audio version of the book which was the only audio format available. (The audio version didn't show up in a search of current publications.) I found the book interesting and easy to listen to.

The following short review is from the 2007 PageADay Book Lover's Calendar:
“Landmark.”­San Francisco Chronicle
“Brilliant.”­The New Yorker
“A masterpiece.”­The News & Observer
A family reunion in South Carolina got journalist Ball thinking not just about his own family, which in its heyday had run a large plantation, but also about the slaves the family had owned. Slaves in the Family traces the history of the slaves from one such family and their descendants, many of whom Ball finds, and many of whom turn out to be distant cousins. Strong research and writing lead to stunning results in this story that won the National Book Award.
SLAVES IN THE FAMILY, by Edward Ball (Ballantine Books, 1998)

The following is from the October 6, 2015 PageADay Book Lover's Calendar:
This 1998 National Book Award winner for Nonfiction is the gripping account of one man who decided to investigate his rice plantation ancestors in South Carolina. With a combination of in-person interviews and painstaking research, Edward Ball became a detective looking into the lives of both the masters and the slaves who lived on their land. The results are powerful and thought-provoking, and reveal searing truths about the lives of those caught up in the abhorrent institution.
SLAVES IN THE FAMILY, by Edward Ball (Ballantine, 1998)
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