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The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White

by

The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White Cover

 

Awards

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

Synopses & Reviews

Please note that used books may not include additional media (study guides, CDs, DVDs, solutions manuals, etc.) as described in the publisher comments.

Publisher Comments:

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

The Hairstons is the extraordinary story of the largest family in America, the Hairston clan. With several thousand black and white members, the Hairstons share a complex and compelling history: divided in the time of slavery, they have come to embrace their past as one family.

The black family's story is most exceptional. It is the account of the rise of a remarkable people—the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of slaves—who took their rightful place in mainstream America.

In contrast, it has been the fate of the white family—once one of the wealthiest in America—to endure the decline and fall of the Old South, and to become an apparent metaphor for that demise. But the family's fall from grace is only part of the tale. Beneath the surface lay a hidden history—the history of slavery's curse and how that curse plagued slaveholders for generations.

For the past seven years, journalist Wiencek has listened raptly to the tales of hundreds of Hairston relatives, including the aging scions of both the white and black clans. He has crisscrossed the old plantation country in Virginia, North Carolina, and Mississippi to seek out the descendants of slaves. Visiting family reunions, interviewing family members, and exploring old plantations, Wiencek combs the far-reaching branches of the Hairston family tree to gather anecdotes from members about their ancestors and piece together a family history that involves the experiences of both plantation owners and their slaves. He expertly weaves the Hairstons' stories from all sides of historical events like slave emancipation, Reconstruction, school segregation, and lynching.

Paradoxically, Wiencek demonstrates that these families found that the way to come to terms with the past was to embrace it, and this lyrical work, a parable of redemption, may in the end serve as a vital contribution to our nation's attempt to undo the twisted historical legacy of the past.

Review:

"One would have to be hard-hearted indeed not to be moved by the big story this book tells....It is scrupulous and honest in all respects, and a powerful testament to what this country, at its best, can be." Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World

Review:

"Wiencek steps gracefully through the intricate web that links two family trees....Throughout, Wiencek writes without sentimentality but with great feeling." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"Wiencek does not have a dramatic flair for language, making this a very slow read indeed. But those with an interest in the subject will tough out this eerily fascinating account." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Not since Mary Chestnut's Civil War has nonfiction about the South been as compelling as fiction." Time

Review:

"Wiencek's lovingly detailed history...has been called a metaphor for the nation, but a more accurate description would lie in the words of Robert Penn Warren, who said, 'The past is never past.'" The Dallas Morning News

Review:

"The Hairstons is an epic....Enthralling...creates a profound understanding of slavery, Jim Crow, and the civil rights movement. [Wiencek] uses documents, sometimes centuries old, to bring these Hairstons vividly to life." Howard Kissel, New York Daily News

Review:

"This is a moving and timely story of that which separates and binds black and white America. The Hairstons helps us understand our common past and present." Julian Bond

Review:

"[A] voyage of discovery down the stream of history. Wiencek reminds us that no such story, especially one as compelling as this, can be rendered simply in terms of black and white." Library Journal

Synopsis:

The Hairstons is the extraordinary saga of the largest family in America, the Hairston clan. One family — black and white — has a history that is the story of slavery and its legacy in America. Yet this is not a tale of horror, but rather of love and heroism powerful enough to shake the foundation myth of the Old South. 16-page photo insert.

Synopsis:

With thousands of black and white members, the Hairstons comprise the largest clan in America; their long, complex history rivals the best fiction. Wiencek tells the story of how these people...once divided by slavery and its legacy...now embrace their troubled past as a single family.

Description:

Includes bibliographical references (p. 335-343) and index.

About the Author

Henry Wiencek was series editor of the Smithsonian Guide to Historic America, a twelve-volume descriptive guide to the country's historic sites. He is author of Old Houses, with essays on the histories of eighteen American houses and the families who built them, published in association with the National Trust for Historic Preservation; two books on Southern architecture—Mansions of Virginia Gentry and Plantations of the Deep South; and several books for Time-Life. He has contributed articles to American Heritage and Smithsonian Magazine. Born in Boston and educated at Yale, he lives in Virginia with his wife, the writer Donna Lucey, and their son.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780312253936
Author:
Wiencek, Henry
Publisher:
St. Martins Press-3pl
Location:
New York :
Subject:
Fiction
Subject:
African American Studies - History
Subject:
United States - General
Subject:
Slavery
Subject:
United States - State & Local
Subject:
African American Studies
Subject:
Race relations
Subject:
Southern states
Subject:
Afro-American families
Subject:
Slaves
Subject:
Slaveholders
Subject:
African American families
Subject:
Ethnic Studies - African American Studies - Histor
Subject:
United States - State & Local - General
Subject:
Southern States Race relations.
Subject:
Slaveholders -- Southern States.
Subject:
Ethnic Studies - African American Studies
Subject:
Americana-General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Series Volume:
no. FPT00-01
Publication Date:
February 2000
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Plus 16-page bandw photo insert
Pages:
400
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » African American Studies » General
History and Social Science » African American Studies » Slavery and Reconstruction
History and Social Science » Americana » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » Slavery
History and Social Science » US History » General

The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$11.00 In Stock
Product details 400 pages St. Martin's Press - English 9780312253936 Reviews:
"Review" by , "One would have to be hard-hearted indeed not to be moved by the big story this book tells....It is scrupulous and honest in all respects, and a powerful testament to what this country, at its best, can be."
"Review" by , "Wiencek steps gracefully through the intricate web that links two family trees....Throughout, Wiencek writes without sentimentality but with great feeling."
"Review" by , "Wiencek does not have a dramatic flair for language, making this a very slow read indeed. But those with an interest in the subject will tough out this eerily fascinating account."
"Review" by , "Not since Mary Chestnut's Civil War has nonfiction about the South been as compelling as fiction."
"Review" by , "Wiencek's lovingly detailed history...has been called a metaphor for the nation, but a more accurate description would lie in the words of Robert Penn Warren, who said, 'The past is never past.'"
"Review" by , "The Hairstons is an epic....Enthralling...creates a profound understanding of slavery, Jim Crow, and the civil rights movement. [Wiencek] uses documents, sometimes centuries old, to bring these Hairstons vividly to life."
"Review" by , "This is a moving and timely story of that which separates and binds black and white America. The Hairstons helps us understand our common past and present."
"Review" by , "[A] voyage of discovery down the stream of history. Wiencek reminds us that no such story, especially one as compelling as this, can be rendered simply in terms of black and white."
"Synopsis" by , The Hairstons is the extraordinary saga of the largest family in America, the Hairston clan. One family — black and white — has a history that is the story of slavery and its legacy in America. Yet this is not a tale of horror, but rather of love and heroism powerful enough to shake the foundation myth of the Old South. 16-page photo insert.
"Synopsis" by , With thousands of black and white members, the Hairstons comprise the largest clan in America; their long, complex history rivals the best fiction. Wiencek tells the story of how these people...once divided by slavery and its legacy...now embrace their troubled past as a single family.
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