The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White

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St. Martin's Press, 1999 - History - 361 pages
3 Reviews
The Hairstons are extraordinary families, both black and white, who share a complex and compelling history that embodies the legacy of slavery and shows how that legacy has passed into our own time. The black family's story traces the triumphant rise of a remarkable people - the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of slaves - who took their rightful place in mainstream America. They are people who tilled the land, built schools and churches, fought for civil rights, and shed their blood in war. In contrast, it was the fate of the white family, once one of the wealthiest in America, to endure the decline and fall of the Old South. At the heart of their experience lies the story of a lost child. Wiencek's search for the true account of her life peels away layers of lies and myth to reveal a tale the slaveholders and their descendants had kept hidden for almost a century and a half. Surprisingly, it was a tale not of horror, but rather of love and heroism powerful enough to shake the foundation myth of the Old South. The Hairstons ultimately addresses the universal human struggle to come to terms with the past, and offers a parable of redemption, one that may in the end serve as a vital contribution to our nation's attempt to undo the twisted historical legacy of the past.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Janientrelac - LibraryThing

A grim and fascinating book. The amazing cruelty and self deception involved in slavery and in the post civil war era. the book raises and cannot answer the question of how a slave owner could own and ... Read full review

THE HAIRSTONS: An American Family in Black and White

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A look at the largest slaveholders in the South and black and white families they spawned. Once they ruled over a pre—Civil War kingdom that spanned 45 plantations spread out over four states and ... Read full review

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About the author (1999)

HENRY WIENCEK, a nationally prominent historian and writer, is the author of several books, including "The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White", which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and "An Imperfect God". He lives with his wife in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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