AfriGeneas Books~Authors~Reviews Forum
The Sweet Hell Inside : Review
In Response To: Ed Ball Has New Book ()
As Edward Ball writes, "Family history is history in miniature."
by Steven Harvey for the AJC
In his National Book Award-winning "Slaves in the Family" (1998), Ball
Now he has written a second installment, "The Sweet Hell Inside," which
Ball learned about the Harlestons from Edward Harleston Whitlock, an 85-year old black woman who lives in Atlanta. (Her daughter, Mae Gentry,
Like the first book, "The Sweet Hell Inside" begins with the relationship between
One of the daughters married the Rev. David Jenkins, the founder of an orphanage that produced musicians who played key roles in early Amerian jazz. Their son, Jenks Jenkins, was an important jazz innovator who lived in London, and some of
Another family member~ Teddy Harleston, was the finest portrait painter in Charleston. His father, an indomitable undertaker called "the Captain," saw little value in art but reluctantly allowed Teddy to go , to Harvard to study. Eventually
In the course of telling the story of all these artists, Ball also gives a history of America through the eyes of black Southerners.
We learn about lynchings and Plessy vs. Ferguson and Jim Crow. We have vignettes about minstrel shows and W.C. Handy and Tin Pan Alley. We have a tour of Europe as blacks serve in segregated troops in World War 1. And we come to understand how "Porgy" got its start in the music of the Jenkins Orphanage band.
But all history is family history - that is Ball's thesis - and what makes this book compelling is the way we can trace these seminal events through the generations of a family we come to know and care about, a family caught in the mesh of America's racial confusions.
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