How Grand a Flame: A Chronicle of a Plantation Family, 1813-1947

Clyde Bresee, Author
Clyde Bresee, Author Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill $21.95 (270p) ISBN 978-0-945575-55-9
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The author's childhood years spent on a former James Island, S.C., cotton plantation near Charleston inform his account of three generations of its onetime owners, the Lawtons, the last of whom converted the plantation to a dairy which Bresee's father managed. Devastation--wrought especially by Sherman during the War Between the States--and the postbellum struggle for survival were vividly recalled in long conversations between the writer's father and a loyal former house slave who served all three generations. The diary of a literate, teenage bride of a peevish Lawton also reveals intimate details of the family's often stormy relations, along with the everyday terrors and hardships of the postbellum years. Bresee helpfully relates individual experiences to events leading to the collapse of a system that transformed the existence of both masters and slaves. Despite frequent arguable conjectures by Bresee, a former Cornell University psychology lecturer, the book makes a rich addition to annals of the period. Photos. (Oct.)
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