• All That She Carried

  • The Journey of Ashley's Sack, a Black Family Keepsake
  • By: Tiya Miles
  • Narrated by: Janina Edwards
  • Length: 9 hrs and 29 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (261 ratings)

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All That She Carried

By: Tiya Miles
Narrated by: Janina Edwards
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Publisher's Summary

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A renowned historian traces the life of a single object handed down through three generations of Black women to craft a “deeply layered and insightful” (The Washington Post) testament to people who are left out of the archives.

WINNER: PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, Lawrence W. Levine Award, Darlene Clark Hine Award • ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The Washington Post, Slate, Vulture, Publishers Weekly 

“A history told with brilliance and tenderness and fearlessness.”—Jill Lepore, author of These Truths: A History of the United States

In 1850s South Carolina, an enslaved woman named Rose faced a crisis: the imminent sale of her daughter Ashley. Thinking quickly, she packed a cotton bag for her with a few items, and, soon after, the nine-year-old girl was separated from her mother and sold. Decades later, Ashley’s granddaughter Ruth embroidered this family history on the sack in spare, haunting language. 

Historian Tiya Miles carefully traces these women’s faint presence in archival records, and, where archives fall short, she turns to objects, art, and the environment to write a singular history of the experience of slavery, and the uncertain freedom afterward, in the United States. All That She Carried is a poignant story of resilience and love passed down against steep odds. It honors the creativity and resourcefulness of people who preserved family ties when official systems refused to do so, and it serves as a visionary illustration of how to reconstruct and recount their stories today

FINALIST: Kirkus Prize, Mark Lynton History Prize • ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times, NPR, Time, The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Smithsonian Magazine, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Ms. magazine, Book Riot, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist

©2021 Tiya Miles (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“[A] powerful history of women and slavery.”—The New Yorker

“Through [Miles’s] interpretation, the humble things in the sack take on ever-greater meaning, its very survival seems magical, and Rose’s gift starts to feel momentous in scale.”—Rebecca Onion, Slate

“Tiya Miles uses the tools of her trade to tend to Black people, to Black mothers and daughters, to our wounds, to collective Black love and loss. This book demonstrates Miles’s signature genius in its rare balance of both rigor and care.”—Brittney Cooper, author of Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower 

What listeners say about All That She Carried

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An Astonishing Feat of Scholarship, Imagination and Empathy

As a white woman primarily educated in Texas, I was instilled with the sanitized, I might say whitewashed, history of slavery in America. For the past 20 or so years, I’ve sought to educate myself of its and our true history. This book (I plan to purchase the print version) made an indelible impression on my mind and my soul. I’m deeply indebted to the author and to the performer. Thank you both.

22 people found this helpful

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Illuminating and Heartfelt

I did not know what to expect from the title but I was swept up in the intimacy of this story. It was illuminating in a new way of knowing and carrying our story of enslavement. We are survivors and the ways we approached surviving are many and varied. I take with me a commitment to create survival sacks in our ongoing struggle for a just and equal world.

11 people found this helpful

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Read This Book!

It has opened me up like a flower to the love handed down from my female ancestors, my great grandmother, grandmother and mother to me. These are not just dresser scarfs and linens. These are generations of love.

There is so much more to be learned from this book about how women have communicated through time to other women via needlework. I am so grateful to the author.
What a gift this is to me.

9 people found this helpful

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Should be required reading

Have the hankies handy. I'm white, from a small rural town in upstate NY. I spent much of my reading furious and in tears. I know I can never truly understand the trauma enslavement inflicted on African-Americans, but I think this book brought me closer. This book should be required reading for high school social studies

6 people found this helpful

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Way overly sentimental and badly researched

Aside from the over-the-top use of adjectives, sentimental feelings conjecture, and useless sentences, the worst part about this book was the research. I only have one example because after that I stopped listening. Miles notes that pecans did not grow in South Carolina until the mid-1800s. Clemson university extension, the South Carolina agricultural University, notes the pecans have been grown in South Carolina since the 1600s. I’m done and I just cannot recommend this book. This puts all the other fact that she puts forth into question. The concept of the book was great but the embellishments are over the top.

5 people found this helpful

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beautiful

An extraordinary example of providing context where there seems to be none. I'll be recommending this to everyone. Thanks Prof. Miles!

5 people found this helpful

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Well researched

This really read more like a thesis or research book. It was good and you can tell a lot of searching through history went into it. Ashley’s sack serves as a tangible object that travels the reader through generations of free and enslaved Black women. It wasn’t until I looked up what the sack looked like in real life that the fullness of the book hit me, it’s an incredible artifact.

3 people found this helpful

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Outstanding!!

Suffice it to say, this book should be required reading in American History classes. There is so much to be learned from this vital and shameful part of human history.

2 people found this helpful

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Dry and long winded

I love Robin Miles and was looking forward to listening to this this title, but whatever story there was to tell got lost in the long winded details of the writing. This book felt less like a story of the past and more like a scientific research paper. I felt like the writing was more about explaining to the reader, rather than connecting and it for sure lost me. I listened to the first 3 chapters but could not finish.

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Repetitive research paper

I thought this book would be a story about what happened to the dependents of the person who created the sack but it seems to say the same thing over and over in a different way. All speculation about the sack and what happened based on general history of the time and after 2 chapters it just did not seem to be going anywhere. Bought in a 2 for 1 sale and sadly cannot return.

1 person found this helpful