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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

Taken from the records of the Federal Writers' Project of the 1930s, these interviews with one-time Virginia slaves provide a clear window into what it was like to be enslaved in the antebellum American South.


"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

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