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Slaves in the Family with Edward Ball
If you knew that you were a descendant of a slave- owner, would you tell anyone?
If you had an opportunity to apologize to descendants of those enslaved by your family, would you?
Edward Ball is a writer of narrative nonfiction and the author of five books, including The Inventor and the Tycoon (Doubleday, 2013), about the birth of moving pictures. The book tells the story of Edward Muybridge, the pioneering 19-century photographer (and admitted murderer), and Leland Stanford, the Western railroad baron, whose partnership, in California during the 1870s, gave rise to the visual media.
Edward Ball’s first book, Slaves in the Family (1998), told the story of his family’s history as slave-owners in South Carolina, and of the families they once enslaved. Slaves in the Family won the National Book Award for nonfiction, was a New York Times bestseller, was translated into five languages, and was featured on Oprah.
Edward Ball was born in Savannah, raised in Louisiana and South Carolina, and graduated from Brown University in 1982. He worked for ten years as freelance journalist in New York, writing about art and film, and becoming a columnist for The Village Voice.
His other books, all nonfiction, include The Sweet Hell Inside (2001), the story of an African-American family that rose from the ashes of the Civil War to build lives in music and in art during the Jazz Age; Peninsula of Lies (2004), the story of English writer Gordon Hall, who underwent one of the first sex reassignments—in the South during the 1960s—creating an outrage; and The Genetic Strand, about the process of using DNA to investigate family history.
Edward Ball lives in Connecticut and teaches at Yale University.
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It's good to talk.