THE EXTRAORDINARY TRUE STORY
The year was 1899, as the old people told the story; the place a sweltering tobacco farm in Truevine, Virginia, the heart of the Jim Crow South, where everyone they knew was either a former slave, or a child or grandchild of slaves.
The Muse brothers, George and Willie, were just six and nine years old, but they worked the fields from dawn to dark. Until a white man offered them candy and stole them away to become circus freaks. For the next twenty-eight years, their distraught mother struggled to get them back.
But were they really kidnapped? And how did their mother, a barely literate black woman in the segregated South, manage to bring them home? And why, after coming home, would they want to go back to the circus?
At the height of their fame, the Muse brothers performed for royalty at Buckingham Palace and headlined over a dozen sold-out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden. They were global superstars in apre-broadcast era. But the very root of their success was in the color of their skin and in the outrageous caricatures they were forced to assume: supposed cannibals, sheep-headed freaks, even 'Ambassadors from Mars.'
The result of hundreds of interviews and decades of research, Truevine tells the extraordinary story of what really happened to the Muse brothers for the first time. It is an unforgettable story of cruelty and exploitation, but also of loyalty, determination and love.
About the Author
Beth Macy writes about outsiders and underdogs, and she is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Factory Man. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers and The Roanoke Times, where her reporting has won more than a dozen national awards, including a Nieman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard and the Lukas Prize from the Columbia School of Journalism.
"It's the best story in town," a colleague told Beth Macy decades ago, "but no one has been able to get it." She now has, with tenacity and sensitivity. She gives a singular sideshow its due, offering these "Ambassadors from Mars" a remarkable, deeply affecting afterlife -- Stacy Schiff
A sturdy, passionate, and penetrating narrative. This first-rate journey into human trafficking, slavery, and familial bonding is an engrossing example of spirited, determined reportage Kirkus
* Introduction - i: Prologue: I Am the True Vine* Chapter - 1: Sit Down and Shut Up* Chapter - 2: White Peoples Is Hateful* Chapter - 3: And Still the Cry Against Us Continues* Chapter - 4: your Momma Is Dead* Chapter - 5: Some Serious Secrets* Chapter - 6: A Paying Proposition* Chapter - 7: He Who Hustleth While He Waiteth* Chapter - 8: Comma, Colored* Chapter - 9: The Prodigal Sons* Chapter - 10: Not One Single, Solitary, Red Penny* Chapter - 11: Adultery's Siamese Twin* Chapter - 12: Housekeeping!* Chapter - 13: Practically Imbeciles* Chapter - 14: Very Good Old Colored Woman* Chapter - 15: Wilbur and John* Chapter - 16: God is Good to Me** Section - ii: Epilogue: Markers* Acknowledgements - iii: Acknowledgements* Section - iv: Notes* Index - v: Index