Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest; A True Story of the Jim Crow South

Beth Macy. Little, Brown, $28 (432p) ISBN 978-0-316-33754-0
The lives and fortunes, or misfortunes, of Willie and George Muse—two black albino brothers who were better known by their circus names, Eko and Ito—constitute the underpinning of this ramshackle book by journalist Macy (Factory Man). In 1899 the brothers, both under the age of 10, were at work in a tobacco field in Virginia, when they were kidnapped. They were displayed as freaks for the following 13 years and exhibited in various circuses and sideshows. They were labeled sheep-headed men from Ecuador, ministers from the African kingdom of Dahomey, Ethiopian monkey men, and, most famously, ambassadors from Mars found in a wrecked spaceship. In 1927 the brothers were reunited with their mother after years of her strenuous efforts to get them back. They returned as side-show performers under better, though often disputatious, contractual conditions. There’s a page-turner buried in Macy’s meandering account, but multiple backstories—circus history, Roanoke history, Jim Crow life for blacks and whites, Macy’s personal memoir (growing up in Roanoke, writing this book, building a relationship with a surviving Muse family member), and snippets from scholarly writing—disrupt the reader’s focus. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 06/20/2016
Release date: 10/18/2016
Paperback - 978-1-4328-4004-4
Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-0-316-33756-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-4789-4252-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-4789-4249-8
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4789-4251-1
Hardcover - 978-1-4104-9618-8
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-316-33752-6
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