Truevine : two brothers, a kidnapping, and a mother's quest : a true story of the Jim Crow South

by Macy, Beth,

Format: Print Book [2016]
Availability: Available at 1 Library 1 of 1 copy
Available (1)
Location Collection Call #
Braddock Carnegie Library Non Fiction 791.35 MAC
Location  Braddock Carnegie Library
Collection  Non Fiction
Call Number  791.35 MAC
NATIONAL BESTSELLER The true story of two African-American brothers who were kidnapped and displayed as circus freaks, and whose mother endured a 28-year struggle to get them back.
The year was 1899 and the place a sweltering tobacco farm in the Jim Crow South town of Truevine, Virginia. George and Willie Muse were two little boys born to a sharecropper family. One day a white man offered them a piece of candy, setting off events that would take them around the world and change their lives forever. Captured into the circus, 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 a pre-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." Back home, their mother never accepted that they were "gone" and spent 28 years trying to get them back.
Through hundreds of interviews and decades of research, Beth Macy expertly explores a central and difficult question: Where were the brothers better off? On the world stage as stars or in poverty at home? TRUEVINE is a compelling narrative rich in historical detail and rife with implications to race relations today.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "*Starred Review* Macy's exploration of the long-hidden fate of two young African Americans and how that fate illuminates the atrocities of the Jim Crow South is as compelling as Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2012). Both books star victims of systemic abuse. Both shine a light on treatment of African Americans in the twentieth century. And both are absolutely stunning examples of narrative nonfiction at its best. The story Macy uncovers starts with the kidnapping of two sharecropper brothers in Truevine, Virginia, both albinos, who were abducted by a circus agent from the field where they were working and forced into the circus in 1899, members of one of the wildly popular freak shows. The Muse brothers toured the country, performing at Madison Square Garden, becoming celebrities based on humiliation. Macy's own story of how she tracked down what happened to the brothers, how their mother searched for them, and how they eventually escaped the circus is riveting in itself, as she follows their trail from one photograph seen on Facebook through documents and hundreds of interviews. In the process, Macy exposes the casually cruel treatment of African Americans during the sharecropping era, and she provides a fascinating look at the circus, which, she notes, was among the main sources of entertainment for Americans from the 1840s through the 1940s. Certain to be among the most memorable books of the year.--Fletcher, Connie Copyright 2016 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "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.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Muse, George, -- 1890-1971.
Muse, Willie, -- 1893-2001.
Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Combined Shows -- History.
Albinos and albinism -- Biography.
Circus performers -- United States -- 20th century -- Biography.
Children of sharecroppers -- Virginia -- Biography.
Racism in popular culture -- History.
Child circus performers -- Biography.
African Americans -- Biography.
United States -- Race relations.
Publisher New York :[2016]
Edition First edition.
Other Titles Two brothers, a kidnapping, and a mother's quest :
Language English
Notes Maps on lining papers.
Description x, 420 pages : illustrations (some color), maps ; 24 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 353-404) and index.
ISBN 9780316337540
Other Classic View