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Publisher's Summary

A Black descendant of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings’ family explores America’s racial reckoning through the prism of her ancestors — both the enslaver and the enslaved.

Gayle Jessup White had long heard the stories passed down from her father’s family, that they were direct descendants of Thomas Jefferson — lore she firmly believed, though others did not. For four decades the acclaimed journalist and genealogy enthusiast researched her connection to Thomas Jefferson, to confirm its truth once and for all. 

After she was named a Jefferson Studies Fellow, Jessup White discovered her family lore was correct. Poring through photos and documents and pursuing DNA evidence, she learned that not only was she a descendant of Jefferson on his father’s side; she was also the great-great-great-granddaughter of Peter Hemings, Sally Hemings’s brother.

In Reclamation she chronicles her remarkable journey to definitively understand her heritage and reclaim it, and offers a compelling portrait of what it means to be a black woman in America, to pursue the American dream, to reconcile the legacy of racism, and to ensure the nation lives up to the ideals advocated by her legendary ancestor.

Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2021 Gayle Jessup White (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Reclamation

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Outstanding Writing, Story and Presentation

This is one of the best books I have ever read. Gayle's writing skills and wordsmithing are just remarkable. They are particularly remarkable to me since I have know Gayle since she was a child having grown up in her neighborhood and being friends with her older sister and brother, Pat and Bruce Jessup. And then in later years renewing our friendship as adults. I knew she was a TV journalist but I had no idea that Gayle has such literary talent She not only tells a compelling story about tracking down her descending from Sally Hemmings but she does it in a pleasant and erudite literary manner. It is simply a joy to read. I listened to it on an audio book and then went back and read the written word. I understand why she is receiving rave reviews from all corners. I highly recommend this book, especially if you have an interest in Thomas Jefferson and his slave relations and want an entertaining uplifting read.

The audible presentation was also outstanding. The presenter actually sounds a lot like Gayle. I thought it was her until I was told otherwise.

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Slow start, eventually a worthwhile story

Gayle has clearly pursued her dream of confirming and supporting the story of her family’s relationship with President Jefferson. By the time the book ended, I had great respect for her. However, I found much of the beginning of the book was undermined by what seemed her need to establish her middle class credentials .