Books: The Hairstons: An American Family In Black And White

By Henry Wiencek

Wiencek tracks the postbellum rise of the black Hairstons against the decline of their former masters, once among the largest slaveholding families in the South. The central narrative unravels the 150-year-old mystery of a lost child, a story as brutal and romantic as anything by Faulkner. CBS is turning the book into a mini-series, but there are enough remarkable tales here for 10. A moving storyteller, Wiencek largely resists the temptation to moralize. Not since Mary Chesnut's Civil War has nonfiction about the South been as compelling as fiction.

--By Virginia Donelson

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