Secret and Sacred: The Diaries of James Henry Hammond, a Southern Slaveholder

Carol Bleser, Editor, James Henry Hammond, Author Oxford University Press, USA $29.95 (380p) ISBN 978-0-19-505308-1
These previously unpublished diaries of Hammond, an antebellum parvenu South Carolina politician, planter and staunch advocate of an independent South who served as U.S. senator and governor of South Carolina, provide a startlingly candid insight into a brilliant but ruthlessly ambitious, tyrannical man who was also a keen observer and critic of the Old South and its plantation aristocracy. Hammond's uncontrolled sensuality, which he indulged with his slaves and his own nieces, caused not only estrangement from his wife but proved politically self-destructive. In his journals, skillfully edited by Bleser ( The Hammonds of Redcliffe ), this admittedly frustrated novelist gave vent to his anger, dreams and self-pity, comparing himself to Sisyphus and blaming everyone including God for his failures. Also vividly portrayed are the suffering and disruption of plantation life during the Civil War and Hammond's growing despair at his own decadence and the defeat of his beloved South. (August)
Reviewed on: 08/05/1988
Release date: 08/01/1988
Paperback - 376 pages - 978-0-19-506163-5
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