Life of a Klansman: A Family History in White Supremacy

Edward Ball (Author)
Available

Product Details

Price
$28.00  $25.76
Publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publish Date
August 04, 2020
Pages
416
Dimensions
6.2 X 9.0 X 1.5 inches | 1.45 pounds
Language
English
Type
Hardcover
EAN/UPC
9780374186326

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About the Author

Edward Ball's previous books include The Inventor and the Tycoon, about the birth of moving pictures in California, and Slaves in the Family, an account of his family's history as slaveholders in South Carolina, which received the National Book Award for Nonfiction. He has taught at Yale University and has been awarded fellowships by the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard and the New York Public Library's Cullman Center. He is also the recipient of a Public Scholar Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Reviews

[A] resonant tale . . . [and] a self-searching meditation . . . An illuminating contribution to the literature of race and racism in America. --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

A violent legacy stirs a deep meditation on the nature of racism in this anguished study of Civil War-era New Orleans . . . [Edward Ball] vividly reconstructs the mindset that propelled [his great-great-grandfather]--a resentful, working-class striver nostalgic for his family's formerly privileged position atop New Orleans' complex racial hierarchy--into racist activism . . . The result is a clear-eyed work of historical reclamation and an intimate, self-lacerating take on memory and collective responsibility. --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Spanning most of the 19th century, Life of a Klansman is a nuanced case study of one cog within a machine of terrorism and oppression . . . [a] nuanced biography . . . In flexing his imagination, Ball creates a dynamic space for challenging reconciliation, breaking from the narrative periodically to reflect with empathy for family members acting in ways he abhors, yet never absolving them. --Shelf Awareness

There is no other writer of nonfiction about race writing today who has taken us deeper into our greatest national and familial dilemma than Edward Ball. Life of a Klansman is a deeply personal history, a brave work, and a lodestar for how we have arrived at yet another reckoning about white supremacy. Ball demonstrates here, for all who wish to try, just how to face, narrate, and understand our past even when we find ancestors and stories we might wish away. In his work, he allows for no looking away, and he does so in lyrical prose. --David W. Blight, Sterling Professor of History at Yale University and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

In this compelling narrative of the life of a klansman, Edward Ball reckons with the history of whiteness that has shaped the U.S. and which is his personal inheritance. Ball confronts the violence and hatred at the foundation of white authority and privilege by recounting his great-great-grandfather's worldview and acts of brutality. It is easy to recoil from the ugliness documented in these pages; much more difficult is the task of acknowledging that murder and terror are the bedrock of the nation. Life of A Klansman is a must-read, now more than ever. --Saidiya Hartman, professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University and author of Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments

"If you are a white American, Edward Ball calculates, the odds that you have a Klansman in your family tree are one in two. In this singular work of imaginative reconstruction, Ball brings his own family's Klansman out of the closet and into the light. With a detective's tenacity, Life of a Klansman personalizes the terror of white supremacy as it builds toward a crescendo that sears the soul." --Nancy MacLean, William H. Chafe Distinguished Professor at Duke University and author of Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America and Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan

Edward Ball's fascinating Life of A Klansman escapes genres. His art combines imagination and history to tell the story of the sometimes brutal, often mundane, life of his ancestor, a New Orleans carpenter who became 'our klansman.' Delicately balancing empathy and disgust, he examines the chokehold whiteness and white supremacy have fastened on public memory. --Richard White, Margaret Byrne Professor of American History at Stanford University and author of The Republic for Which It Stands