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Red River by Lalita Tademy
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“Red River” is an amazing fictionalized account of an African-American family from the tumultuous time of Reconstruction into the late 1930s. Tademy does an incredible job of portraying the raw emotions and experiences that encompass this tragic period of American history. A follow up to previous novel, ”Cane River”, she guides through her family’s generations with their accomplishments, tragedies, struggles and successes. Her use of regional language and descriptions take you back in time. With scattered pictures and copies of documents you come to realize that though this is a novel it is based on fact. It will horrify you, make you cry, make you cheer them on, give you hope and strength and you will admire the fortitude of the people who were able to change society. ( )
  JEB5 | Oct 30, 2013 |
In 1873, after slavery is abolished, black families had set up farms in Colfax Louisiana and were developing independent lives including voting. When a new white sheriff is elected due to the black votes, a tragic battle occurs between hundreds of black and white men over the courthouse. The story focused mainly on two black families, their involvement in the courthouse battle and their continued struggles through several generations. This was well-written and straightforward,based on the history of the author’s family. ( )
  gaylebutz | Nov 18, 2012 |
More excellent historical fiction based upon the Tademy family. ( )
  dgmlrhodes | Oct 27, 2012 |
This book is a beautiful read very sad at times but makes you realise how people will not be knocked down no matter what life throws at them ( )
  ilurvebooks | Dec 9, 2010 |
A historical novel covering the Colfax Massacre of Easter Sunday 1873 in Louisiana. As this was an incident I’d not heard of before, this was an educational novel for me. In a contested election, with both sides claiming victory, the freed blacks decided to hold the courthouse for the government officials they’d voted for. Members of the White League (precursor to the KKK) joined forces with the democrats to try to force the blacks and their republican officials out of the courthouse. Neither side backed down. The democrats had much superior firepower, and showed no mercy when the skirmish was over, resulting in the deaths of 100 to 150 freed blacks, with little loss of life for the whites involved. It was a horrendous story. While I am grateful to the author for telling it, I didn’t find the story particularly well told. It seemed twice as long as it needed to be, and lagged too often in the narrative. However, the characters (including, apparently, some of the author’s forbears) and the setting of the village of Colfax and surrounding lands were very believably rendered.

Overall a good read. ( )
1 vote countrylife | Nov 7, 2009 |
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For Nathan Green Tademy, Jr. Daddy, I owe you.
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Come closer. This is not a story to go down easy, and the backwash still got hold of us today.
Quotations
Did we not march? Did we not march to the polls anyhow, one hundred black men here in Colfax, in 1868, cast our vote one after the other for the party of Lincoln, the Republican Party?
All you people trying to stay in the middle. There ain’t no middle. Ask the White League and the Democrats, turning everything into white against black.
Jackson Tademy has grown into manhood the way a child grows into hand-me-down clothes, at first straining to fill out the cloth, but by and by outstripping the limitations of the garment. His growth spurts were late, and when they came, each gave him hope that he had the potential to catch up to the height, if not the stature, of his older brother.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0446578983, Hardcover)

When Cane River was published in 2001, Lalita Tademy established herself as the chronicler of her own family's life, since their arrival here as slaves in the 1800s. Mixing family history, fiction, and fact made the story rich and unforgettable enough that Cane River became an Oprah's Book Club®. Now, with Red River, Tademy has done it again. Writing is a second career for Tademy, who is a former vice-president of Sun Microsystems. She left the corporate world to immerse herself in her family's history--and the history of the south.

In 1873 in the small southern town of Colfax, Louisiana, history tells us there was a riot. The Tademy family knows different. "1873. Wasn't no riot like they say. It was a massacre..." The blacks are newly free, just beginning life under Reconstruction, with all its promises of equity, the right to vote, to own property and, most importantly, to decide their own future as individuals. Federal Government troops are supposed to arrive to protect the rights of the colored people--but they are not yet on the scene.

In one wretched day, white supremacists destroy all the optimism and bright promise by taking Colfax back in an ugly and violent manner. The tragedy begins with the two sides: the white Democrats of Montgomery and the colored and white Republicans of Colfax in the courthouse, finally meeting face to face to discuss their differences. Then, a group of white thugs kills a colored man who was not involved in the courthouse struggle. He was home minding his business and the ugliness came and found him.

The confrontation that follows results in the death of more than 100 black men, killed by white supremacists bent on denying them their voting rights and keeping in office those who uphold the status quo prior to the Civil War. The massacre is only the beginning of Tademy's story. Using reliable sources wherever they may be found, she tells the hard and proud story of Sam Tademy, Israel Smith and their families as they fight their way back from the massacre. They get a foothold in Colfax, finally starting a school, owning land and businesses and becoming full-fledged citizens, as they were meant to be.

Tademy tells part of our history that we would like to forget; she also tells the story of her family, which is a story worth remembering. --Valerie Ryan

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:50 -0400)

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"The intertwining stories of two Louisiana families--three generations of African-American men--and their struggles to make a place for themselves in a country deeply divided in the aftermath of the Civil War and beyond"--Provided by publisher.

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