Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.
Inheriting the Trade: A Northern Family Confronts Its Legacy as the…
by Thomas Norman DeWolf
No current Talk conversations about this book.
Too much white angst, not enough about lasting solutions
I wish this book had more information about the DeWolf family and was more historical in nature. Being an apologist for the slave trade in your family is not something that I endorse, as I believe that one can not attone for the sins of "your father."
The trips that the author took to Ghana and Cuba (part of the slave trading triangle, along with Bristol, Rhode Island) seemed to me to only scrape the surface of the endeavors of his slave trading family.
I expected more in depth coverage of those areas as well as more information about the plantations as well as the DeWolf family mansion in Bristol. As the author had access to historical papers, I expected a story that brought to life - that slaves and their masters. Instead, the story revolves around the "family of 10" (DeWolf relatives) that travel to distant places to try to understand their families involvement. The author choose to share the discussions that family had with various people in Ghana and Cuba about his families plantation - but nothing had any real substance.
Too bad, this could have been a really interesting book, with access to historical papers and the knowledge of where the plantations were - the author could have delved deeper into the trade, not just skimmed the surface. fretting over whether to apologize or not for his family history.
In 2001, at forty-seven, Thomas DeWolf was astounded to discover that he was related to the most successful slave-trading family in American history, responsible for transporting at least 10,000 Africans to the Americas. His infamous ancestor, U.S. senator James DeWolf of Bristol, Rhode Island, curried favor with President Jefferson to continue in the trade after it was outlawed. When James DeWolf died in 1837, he was the second-richest man in America. When Katrina Browne, Thomas DeWolf's cousin, learned about their family's history, she resolved to confront it head-on, producing and directing a documentary feature film, Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North. Inheriting the Trade is Tom DeWolf's powerful and disarmingly honest memoir of the journey in which ten family members retraced the steps of their ancestors and uncovered the hidden history of New England and the other northern states. Their journey through the notorious Triangle Trade - from New England to West Africa to Cuba - proved life-altering, forcing DeWolf to face the horrors of slavery directly for the first time. It also inspired him to contend with the complicated legacy that continues to affect black and white Americans, Africans, and Cubans today. Inheriting the Trade reveals that the North's involvement in slavery was as common as the South's. Not only were black people enslaved in the North for over two hundred years, but the vast majority of all slave trading in America was done by northerners. Remarkably, half of all North American voyages involved in the slave trade originated in Rhode Island, and all the northern states benefited. With searing candor, DeWolf tackles both the internal and external challenges of his journey - writing frankly about feelings of shame, white male privilege, the complicity of churches, America's historic amnesia regarding slavery - and our nation's desperate need for healing. An urgent call for meaningful and honest dialogue, Inheriting the Trade illuminates a path toward a more hopeful future and provides a persuasive argument that the legacy of slavery isn't merely a southern issue but an enduring American one. "Tom DeWolf's deeply personal story, of his own journey as well as his family's, is required reading for anyone interested in reconciliation. Healing from our historic wounds, which continue to separate us, requires us to walk this road together." - Myrlie Evers-Williams, civil rights leader, chairman emeritus of the NAACP (1995-98), and author of The Autobiography of Medgar Evers, Watch Me Fly, and For Us, the Living "Inheriting the Trade is like a slow-motion mash-up, a first-person view from within one of the country's founding families as it splinters, then puts itself back together again." - Edward Ball, author of Slaves in the Family
No library descriptions found.
Thomas Norman DeWolf chatted with LibraryThing members from Sep 21, 2009 to Oct 2, 2009. Read the chat.
Amazon Kindle (0 editions)
Audible (0 editions)
CD Audiobook (0 editions)
Project Gutenberg (0 editions)
Google Books — Loading...
Melvil Decimal System (DDC)306.3Social sciences Social Sciences Culture and Institutions Economic institutions
2 editions of this book were published by Beacon Press.
Editions: 0807072818, 0807072826
But unfortunately, that doesn't mean it's a great book to read.
For me, the book was best when it focused on the actual things that the cousins were learning about their ancestors and about slavery. I found their trip to Ghana and the slave forts to be very powerful stuff. Same with the trip to Cuba, which was also interesting for its view of modern life under Castro. But when he got into the sections of the "big discussions" between community members and the cousins themselves and everyone started talking - and talking - about their own feelings, and experiences, and 'what it all means' - wow, talk about boring. I know that's just me, but it's like reading someone else's therapy session. I just don't want to know that stuff. What I would like to know is now that you've had this amazing experience and you have learned all this stuff about yourself, what are you going to do differently? Because to me, how you feel is not as important as what you do.
Still, I think this is an important book. Racism is still a secret thing in our society. No one wants to admit that it's there. But race has a profound influence on how we experience the world. We all have racial stereotypes we have to deal with, but so few people are willing to admit that. And until we admit it, we can't really change it. So I really admire the idea behind the book. I just found it rather tedious to listen to. ( )