Friday, March 31, 2006

Slaves in the Family by Edward Ball

I read Slaves in the Family by Edward Ball five years ago and still think of it from time to time. I would expect many readers whose ancestors lived in the American South to think about it from time to time and wonder.

Edward Ball is a descendant of the Ball family of Charleston, South Carolina, a family that lived in the city in its early colonial days. Being prominent and landed, the Balls owned slaves - hundreds of them. They also married into families that shipped slaves from Africa and sold them in slave auctions in the city. It is an ancestory that the author regrets. After doing family and historical research, Ball began tracking down and meeting some of the descendants of his family's slaves. While not all were glad to meet him, some pulled out all their old pictures and Bibles and told family stories. The author learned more than he expected.

Though Slaves in the Family is a big book, 504 pages, it is hard to put down. You may read it quickly. I highly recommend it.

Ball, Edward. Slaves in the Family. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998. ISBN 0374265828

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am reading Slaves in the Family and yes, cannot put it down. I have read more than half the book, but am brimming with enthusiasm. Some books becauses of how they are written are more than what they first appear. The author writes elegantly bringing you into the story but moreover the entire history of our nation. The story of slavery has received short shrift and Ball makes the entire history of slavery alive. I can only say that this will be forever up there in my list of favorites along with The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, another book which infuses history into the story of a single Hmong child. I thank the author for his gift of this book. It has satisfied a long desire in my heart to be close to the story of slavery and to know the multitude of deviations from the simple images we have from our imagination. The complexity and raw nature of the period glistens from every page. Know slavery and you know America. Deep gratitude to Edwary Ball.