A powerful vindication and thoughtful explication of the power and persistence of an oral tradition. Anchoring her work in long-term relationships and stellar research both in the library and in the field, Jane Beck shows how folk traditions, and the past, live on and shape our lives.
Beck has done an impeccable job of verifying the memories of Daisy Turner, clarifying what in her oral history is simply part of family lore and what is historically significant and accurate.
This amazing true story should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand American history. Jane Beck’s seminal book, built upon decades of rare historical research combined with rich oral narratives, reads like a vivid novel. The central narrative portrays three generations of Turner men and women whose . . . creativity, resilience, and spiritual strength are at the root of their survival. Drawing upon letters, photos, local records, and oral recollection, the author has woven this compelling, necessary tale that in praise of Daisy Turner’s determined truth-telling, encourages a reconsideration of traditional African American histories.
Turner’s recollections are interwoven with Beck’s research to provide an astonishing saga of a single African American family, an example of the oral history tradition across two continents, and an amazing woman who bridges generations of her family.
Folklorist Beck’s story of the Turner family’s transition from freedom to slavery to freedom again is a marvel of scholarly storytelling… An engrossing American tale.
I met and filmed Daisy Turner for my Civil War series and was struck by her vibrancy and the power of her voice. How fortunate we are that Jane Beck was able to both record and authenticate her family narrative. It allows us new insights into the experience of four generations of a family who maintained their identity and self-respect in spite of the dehumanizing circumstances they lived through. What an engaging and powerful story!