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Table of Contents

Introduction - i: Prologue: I Am the True Vine Chapter - 1: Sit Down and Shut Up Chapter - 2: White Peoples Is Hateful Chapter - 3: And Still the Cry Against Us Continues Chapter - 4: your Momma Is Dead Chapter - 5: Some Serious Secrets Chapter - 6: A Paying Proposition Chapter - 7: He Who Hustleth While He Waiteth Chapter - 8: Comma, Colored Chapter - 9: The Prodigal Sons Chapter - 10: Not One Single, Solitary, Red Penny Chapter - 11: Adultery's Siamese Twin Chapter - 12: Housekeeping! Chapter - 13: Practically Imbeciles Chapter - 14: Very Good Old Colored Woman Chapter - 15: Wilbur and John Chapter - 16: God is Good to Me Section - ii: Epilogue: Markers Acknowledgements - iii: Acknowledgements Section - iv: Notes Index - v: Index

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An extraordinary and moving story of two brothers from the American South who were stolen away to become circus freaks.

About the Author

Beth Macy writes about outsiders and underdogs, and she is the author of the New York Times bestseller Factory Man. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers and The Roanoke Times, where her reporting has won more than a dozen national awards, including a Nieman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard and the Lukas Prize from the Columbia School of Journalism.


What makes her account compelling, however, is the history it offers of the lives black people had to endure in the decades following slavery, a history that seems all the more poignant in the aftermath of last year's Black Lives Matter debates ... [An] extraordinary tale of courage and grace John Burnside, Spectator -- John Burnside * Spectator *
Jaw-dropping * Glasgow Herald *
Pitiless about life in the Jim Crow South where, even in the 1920s, thousands of black Americans, some for crimes as trivial as hopping a train, were sold into labour camps and sent down slave mines ... It is quite some story, and Macy has told it skilfully, vividly, compassionately -- Sukhdev Sandhu * Guardian *
Compelling * Observer *
Macy is a gifted storyteller and a dogged researcher and readers will be riveted by Harriet Muse's struggle to find her sons. * New York Times *
A sturdy, passionate, and penetrating narrative. This first-rate journey into human trafficking, slavery, and familial bonding is an engrossing example of spirited, determined reportage * Kirkus *
"It's the best story in town," a colleague told Beth Macy decades ago, "but no one has been able to get it." She now has, with tenacity and sensitivity. She gives a singular sideshow its due, offering these "Ambassadors from Mars" a remarkable, deeply affecting afterlife. -- Stacy Schiff
As compelling as Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks . . . both are absolutely stunning examples of narrative nonfiction at its best . . . Certain to be among the most memorable books of the year. -- Connie Fletcher * Booklist *

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