Publication Date: 01/02/2024 ISBN: 9781800818217 Category:

All That She Carried

Tiya Miles

Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Publication Date: 01/02/2024 ISBN: 9781800818217 Category:
Paperback / Softback


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‘An astonishing account of love, resilience and survival’ Sunday Times
‘A remarkable book’ New York Times
‘An extraordinary tale through the generations’ Guardian

In 1850s South Carolina, Rose, an enslaved woman, faced a crisis: the imminent sale of her daughter Ashley. Thinking quickly, she packed a cotton bag with a few items. Soon after, the nine-year-old girl was separated from her mother and sold. Decades later, Ashley’s granddaughter Ruth embroidered this family history on the sack in spare, haunting language.

That, in itself, is a story. But it’s not the whole story. How does one uncover the lives of people who, in their day, were considered property? Harvard historian Tiya Miles carefully traces these women’s faint presence in archival records, and, where archives fall short, she turns to objects, art, and the environment to write a singular history of the experience of slavery, and the uncertain freedom afterward. All That She Carried gives us history as it was lived, a poignant story of resilience and love passed down against steep odds.

Publisher Review

All That She Carried stands as an astonishing account of love, resilience and survival, one that helps to plug that archival abyss * Sunday Times * All That She Carried finds a way to give voice to the wordless by using a mundane, domestic object - a cloth sack and its contents - to thread an extraordinary tale through the generations * Guardian * A remarkable book -- Jennifer Szalai * The New York Times * Deeply layered and insightful ... [a] bold reflection on American history, African American resilience, and the human capacity for love and perseverance * Washington Post * Through [Miles's] interpretation, the humble things in the sack take on ever-greater meaning, its very survival seems magical, and Rose's gift starts to feel momentous in scale -- Rebecca Onion * Slate * Deeply and lovingly researched ... a testament to the power of story, witness, and unyielding love * Atlanta Journal-Constitution * Tiya Miles is a gentle genius . . . All That She Carried is a gorgeous book and a model for how to read as well as feel the precious artifacts of Black women's lives -- Imani Perry, author of South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation A brilliant exercise in historical excavation and recovery ... With creativity, determination, and great insight, Miles illuminates the lives of women who suffered much, but never forgot the importance of love and family -- Annette Gordon-Reed, author of The Hemingses of Monticello A history told with brilliance and tenderness and fearlessness -- Jill Lepore, author of These Truths: A History of the United States All That She Carried is a moving literary and visual experience about love between a mother and daughter and about many women descendants down through the years. Above all it is Miles's lyrical story, written in her signature penetrating prose, about the power of objects and memory, as well as human endurance, in the history of slavery. The book is nothing short of a revelation -- David W. Blight, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom [A] powerful history of women and slavery * The New Yorker * [A] brilliant and compassionate account * Kirkus Reviews (starred review) * [A] sparkling tale * Oprah Daily * [An] extraordinary story ... unique and unforgettable * Ms. Magazine * This absorbing, heartfelt and beautifully written book traces the story of one family through a simple cotton sack to reveal the determination of one woman, sold into slavery, to protect the next generations from harm. In researching Rose's life, Tiya Miles uncovers the - too often unheard - voices of Black female slaves; and tells of their appalling suffering and remarkable stoicism. -- Clare Hunter, Sunday Times-bestselling author of Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle and Embroidering Her Truth It is such a small sack, made of such very rough material. Yet as Tiya Miles shows, this textile given by a mother to her child at a time of greatest peril not only holds within it the whole unforgivable history of Transatlantic slavery, it also contains the greatest thing that anything can contain: love -- Victoria Finlay, author of Fabric: The Hidden History of the Material World Tiya Miles has crafted a powerful, poignant narrative through a single, wondrous, ordinary object. The bag that Ashley carried stands for hope in the bleakest of times and of love. History writing at its best -- Kate Strasdin, author of The Dress Diary of Mrs Anne Sykes: Secrets from a Victorian Woman's Wardrobe Ashley's Sack, as it is known, with its short and simple message of intergenerational love, becomes a portal through which Tiya Miles views and reimagines the inner lives of Black women. She excavates the history of Black women who face insurmountable odds and invent a language that can travel across time -- Michael Eric Dyson, author of Long Time Coming: Reckoning with Race in America Tiya Miles uses the tools of her trade to tend to Black people, to Black mothers and daughters, to our wounds, to collective Black love and loss. This book demonstrates Miles's signature genius in its rare balance of both rigor and care -- Brittney Cooper, author of Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower All That She Carried is a masterpiece work of African American women's history that reveals what it takes to survive and even thrive. Read this book and then pass it on to someone you love -- Martha S. Jones, author of Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All Tiya Miles has written a beautiful book about the tragic materiality of black women's lives across three generations, through slavery and freedom. This book is for anyone interested in learning about black people's centrality to American history -- Stephanie Jones-Rogers, author of They Were Her Property

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