Boughten Boyhood

TITLE: THEORY OF WAR

AUTHOR: JOAN BRADY

PUBLISHER: KNOPF; 257 PAGES; $21

THE BOTTOM LINE: A poignant novel explores slavery's destructive power.

In Kansas after the Civil War, Negroes (to use the term of the age) could no longer be enslaved, even surreptitiously. White orphans and the children of destitute ex-soldiers, however, were fair game. It was common practice for innocent minors to be "bound out," or indentured, to hardscrabble farmers, often by their own parents. They were deprived of hope, happiness and the dreams of childhood until they died, escaped or earned their freedom at 21. For many, the psychic...

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