• Slaves in the Family

  • By: Edward Ball
  • Narrated by: Edward Ball
  • Length: 20 hrs and 16 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (136 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This program is read by the author.

Twenty years after this celebrated work of narrative nonfiction won the National Book Award and changed the American conversation about race, Slaves in the Family makes its audio debut, with a new preface by the author. 

The Ball family hails from South Carolina - Charleston and thereabouts. Their plantations were among the oldest and longest-standing plantations in the South. Between 1698 and 1865, close to 4,000 Black people were born into slavery under the Balls or were bought by them.

In Slaves in the Family, Edward Ball recounts his efforts to track down and meet the descendants of his family's slaves. Part historical narrative, part oral history, part personal story of investigation and catharsis, Slaves in the Family is, in the words of Pat Conroy, "a work of breathtaking generosity and courage, a magnificent study of the complexity and strangeness and beauty of the word ‘family.'" 

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

©1998, 2014 Text copyright Edward Ball, Preface copyright Edward Ball (P)2019 Macmillan Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about Slaves in the Family

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Gives a good insight for moving forward today

It was hard to keep the lineage and family tree straight. The author did a good job trying to help me keep it straight. I think maybe for me to read it in print would help. We like to think that the slave issue is not our issue and with freedom people should “get over it”. The author reminds us that even though the past can’t be changed we can change the future. The past should be a guide and a prod to help us all do better. White and black. We all see things through the filter of what had gone before. This book is a great reminder that to change there must be respect, kindness and most of all charity. If you like history or sociology this book is for you

9 people found this helpful

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Mind blowing - Excellent

Thank you so much for what must’ve been an extraordinary effort to put this information together. So well written, it’s as if I were back in time observing and seeing the stories right before my eyes. The book has transformed my entire understanding of slavery. I’m grateful for the good members of this family throughout the years and I’m also grateful for the labor and toil of each slave. I feel that this book goes along way to heal and apologize for what has occurred, Although clearly it could never be sufficient. Thank you.

- Mark Kennedy of Nauvoo, Illinois
Mark.kennedy305@gmail.com

5 people found this helpful

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Exceptional vision

Remarkable American history research. Beautiful, insightful, honest writing; extraordinary narration by author, who manages to suggest the voices of different people.

5 people found this helpful

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Fantastic book

A great listen. I would like to obtain the maps and photographs associated with the book. I will read more of Edward Ball’s books. Thoroughly enjoyable and informative.

2 people found this helpful

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It's personal

Edward Ball is a toning for the misery his ancestors wrought in their slave owning. His tone is matter of fact. The writing is good.
It is a bit long. I recommend doing tasks while listening. Hiking, cleaning, and yard work were my favorites.
I am not sure I could summarize this in one sentence. It wasn't as focused as it might have been. If it were it would have been cut a bit. The Ball history is rich zand well-documented

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A journey of discovery and forgiveness

I was mesmerized by this book. As a Black Woman, I would be grateful beyond belief if I could meet my black and white relatives in this way. The research done by the author was extensive and thorough. The conviction he brought to bear was amazing. I learned more from each chapter, each generation, each reflection, than I have in any history book in school. I cried, I laughed, I raged, I mourned, as I journeyed through the centuries with the Ball family and those enslaved by them. I recommend to everyone to take the time to read and re-read this book. I will spend many hours pouring through it with my own family in hopes of finding our own roots. For those of us who were taken, this country is a riddle which can only be solved through deep investigation, much like Edward Ball did here. Many of us have neither the time nor financial resources to do this. Thank you to all who participated in this discovery, especially Edward Ball. I don't have enough words or space to garner my full appreciation and gratitude for his courage and tenacity to write an American story many of us can only dream of.

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Where's the movie!!!!!

This story needs to be put on the screen. it reminded me of Miss Jane Pitman.

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didnt finished

I tried but i just couldnt finished this. I listen to the audible version. The first few chapters was good, but soon I found myself falling asleep. And try as I may, its just so boring. Maybe because the story goes from 1 character to another that I lost interest.

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Excellent view into the history of slavery from both a human and economic perspective.

Listened to it multiple times and plan to purchase it in hard cover for my library. The range of time shows the economic impact earlier than the usual civil war period. Already gifted it , to help spread the reality of slavery.

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First person histories

Although I was interested in this story and thought it would be important to know, I didn’t realize it would be so captivating. I sometimes lost track of who specific people were in this complicated family, but it didn’t affect my overall understanding and appreciation of this detailed family history of enslaved people and their enslavers. But the best part was Edward Ball’s narration and his ability to give subtle differences to the voices of all the people he wrote about—I actually didn’t realize the author was the narrator until the end. Amazing!