TITLE/AUTHOR: SLAVES IN THE FAMILY by Edward Ball
PUBLISHER: Ballantine Books, NY, NY, Copyright 1999, Ballantine Books: January 1999, 1st Edition stated, Number line 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
ILLUSTRATOR: Black-and-white maps and 48 pages of glossy photographs
DESCRIPTION: Soft cover, Pictorial covers, 505 pages including index, Approx. 5 1/2 x 8 1/8 inches
CONDITION: VERY GOOD, Covers clean, Slight curl to tips of first 28 pages, Inside pages are clean with slight tanning around edges
DUST JACKET: None, As issued
ABOUT THE BOOK: Writer Edward Ball opens SLAVES IN THE FAMILY with an anecdote: "My father had a little joke that made light of our legacy as a family that had once owned slaves. 'There are five things we don't talk about in the Ball family,' he would say. 'Religion, sex, death, money and the Negroes.' "
Ball himself seemed happy enough to avoid these touchy issues until an invitation to a family reunion in South Carolina piqued his interest in his family's extensive plantation and slave-holding past. He realized that he had a very clear idea of who his white ancestors were -- their names, who their children and children's children were, even portraits and photographs -- but he had only a murky vision of the black people who supported their livelihood and were such an intimate part of their daily lives; he knew neither their names nor what happened to them and their descendents after they were freed following the Civil War. So he embarked on a journey to uncover the history of the Balls and the black families with whom their lives were inextricably intertwined, as well as the less tangible resonance of slavery in both sets of families. From plantation records, interviews with descendents of both the Balls and their slaves, and travels to Africa and the American South, Ball has constructed a story of the riches and squalor, violence and insurrection -- the pride and shame -- that make up the history and legacy of slavery in America.
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Edward Ball has written a nonfiction American saga like no other. Part history, part journey of his discovery, this is the story of black and white families who lived side by side for five generations -- and a tale of everyday Americans confronting their vexed inheritance together. Using the copious plantation records of his family, supplemented by both black and white oral tradition, ball uncovers the story of the people who lived on his ancestor's lands -- the violence and opulence, the slave uprisings and escapes, the dynastic struggles, and the mulatto children of Ball slaveholders and "Ball slaves." He identifies and travels to a prison in Africa from which his family once bought workers. Most remarkably of all, Ball also locates and visits some of the nearly 12,000 descendants of Ball slaves and reveals how slavery lives on in black and white memory and experience.
In 1698, Elias Ball traveled from his home in Devon, England, to Charleston, South Carolina, to take possession of his inheritance: part of a plantation and twenty slaves. Elias and his progeny built an American dynasty that lasted for six generations, acquiring more than twenty plantations along the Cooper River near Charleston, selling rice known as Carolina Gold, and enslaving close to four thousand Africans and African Americans until 1865, when Union troops arrived on the lawns of the Balls' estates to force emancipation.
Ball chronicles the lives of people who lived on his ancestors' lands: the violence and the opulence, the slave uprisings and escapes, the white and black heroes of the American Revolution, the mulatto children of Ball masters and "Ball slaves", and the culminating shock of the Civil War. He reconstructs the genealogies of slave families -- from the first African captives, through ten generations, to the present -- and travels to Sierra Leone to visit a prison from which his family once bought workers.
Edward Ball has traveled all over the United States to meet descendants of Ball slaves (who number between 75,000 and 100,000 living Americans). In a series of memorable encounters, Ball hears from black families -- some of whom are his blood kin -- their stories, passions, and dreams, and reveals how the effects of slavery live on in black and white life and memory. SLAVES IN THE FAMILY is a microcosm of America's defining national experience, a story of people confronting their inescapable common history.
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