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Weevils in the Wheat

Interviews with Virginia Ex-Slaves
Charles L. Perdue, Jr., and Thomas E. Barden

BUY Paper · 405 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813913704 · $29.50 · Dec 1991

For Henry Adams at the turn of the twentieth century, as for his successors in the twenty-first, the relation of mind to a world remade by technology and geopolitical conflict largely determined the destiny of civil life. Henry Adams and the Need to Know presents fourteen essays that articulate Adams' ongoing preoccupation with knowledge, stressing his eclecticism and his need to clarify the role of critical intelligence in public life. Adams' work appeals to a wide spectrum of historical and literary inquiry and claims a place in multiple scholarly contexts. The topics covered in this volume range from international politics (of Adams' age and ours) to portraiture, from orientalism and travel literature to the disintegration of the human mind. Here, leading scholars explore often-overlooked details of Adams' relationships with people and ideas. They reopen settled topics and reframe truisms. Each essay affirms, in one way or another, that to study Adams is to discover his continuing and astonishing relevance.


"In contrast to Gone with the Wind-style histories which suggest slavery wasn't all that bad, we have here the slaves' own view of life under the peculiar institution. Seventy-five years after the end of the Civil War, the emotion which comes through these narratives most strongly, and which seems to have characterized daily life under slavery, is terror..[The book] is a major contribution to Afro-American history and anthropology.

Southern Exposure

[This] is one of the most valuable books on slavery to appear in recent years, and it is one of the most fascinating. The recovery and publication of all the surviving Federal Writers' Project interviews with former Virginia slaves is an event of major scholarly importance in the ongoing effort to understand what it meant to be black and enslaved in the antebellum South.

Virginia Quarterly Review

Here is oral history at its best.

Richmond Times-Dispatch

About the Author(s): 

Charles L. Perdue Jr., Associate Professor of Folklore and Associate Professor of English at the University of Virginia, is the editor of Outwitting the Devil: Jack Tales from Wise County Virginia. Thomas E. Barden, Professor of English at Toledo University, is the author of The Travles of Peter Woodhouse: Memoir of an American Pioneer and editor of Virginia Folk Legends (Virginia). Robert K. Phillips is Professor of English at Lander College, Greenwood, South Carolina.

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