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Sapelo's People: A Long Walk into Freedom - Softcover

 
9780393313772: Sapelo's People: A Long Walk into Freedom

"A searing metaphorical X-ray of a people battling to find space where they can become themselves. . . . I am deeply grateful for McFeely's magnificent effort of thought, empathy, scholarship and imagination." ―Roger Wilkins, Los Angeles Times Book Review (front-page review)

In this moving and original work, William S. McFeely, one of this country's most distinguished historians, retells the history―and enters into the current-day lives―of the people who inhabit Sapelo's Island off the coast of Georgia, descendants of slaves who once worked its huge cotton plantations. It is at once a richly detailed work of historical reconstruction, a sensitive portrait of the lives of black Americans in this particular place and in our own time, and a moving meditation on race by a writer who has made its painful dilemmas his life's work as a historian.

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About the Author:
William S. McFeely is Abraham Baldwin Professor of the Humanities, Emeritus, at the University of Georgia. He is the author of Yankee Stepfather: General O. O. Howard and the Freedmen; Grant: A Biography, for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the Parkman Prize; Frederick Douglass, which received the Lincoln Prize; Sapelo’s People: A Long Walk into Freedom; and Proximity to Death.
From Kirkus Reviews:
McFeely, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his biography of President Grant (1981) and acclaim for his more recent biography of Frederick Douglass (1991), offers a slender ``meditation on race'' in this resonant study of the people of Sapelo Island. McFeely returned to this barrier island off the Georgia coast for the 125th anniversary of its First African Baptist Church, and his visit engenders a series of ruminations and the recounting of a lot of island history. The island's population consists entirely of the descendants of slaves, living in the village of Hog Hammock. Thanks to a genealogist hired by the state, Mae Ruth Green, their family lines are fully charted, enriching family lore with fact. So when McFeely goes to Behavior, the island cemetery, looking for Bilali, the Muslim slave and slave driver who was one of the island's first inhabitants, he is also looking for the great-great- great grandfather of Allen Green, a basketmaker of great skill who has become the author's friend. Using the island's geography as a Proustian prod, McFeely traces its history in quick, bold strokes, from slavery through the Civil War, with its promise of liberation, and Reconstruction, with its all-too-brief taste of self- determination. Finally, he writes movingly of the need to preserve not only the island, but the community that lives on it, of the comfort that he, a white, New York-born academic, finds among its black Southern inhabitants. One might even say of the book what McFeely says of the cemetery: ``There is...abundant evidence in the names and dates on the gravestones of the connectedness of people, of the continuity of life.'' Although his intentions are avowedly modest, McFeely has crafted a beautiful, often poignant essay on this small community, a book that does credit to his subject and to its author. Highly recommended. (Author tour) -- Copyright 1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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  • PublisherW. W. Norton & Company
  • Publication date1995
  • ISBN 10 0393313778
  • ISBN 13 9780393313772
  • BindingPaperback
  • Number of pages200
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