The riveting saga of an articulate, intelligent southern family blessed with wealth but marred by personal scandal
Carol Bleser is Kathryn and Calhoun Lemon Distinguished Professor of History at Clemson University. She was one of the first women to receive a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship.
"This fascinating selection of letters, covering almost 100 years of one South Carolina family's history, chronicles the Civil War, Reconstruction and its aftermath, as well as the loves, disputes, aims, and failures of daily private life. It begins with James Henry Hammond's purchase of a 400-acre estate at Beech Island, S.C., in 1855 …and ends with the restoration of the decaying mansion in 1938 by Hammond's great-grandson, John Shaw Billings II, then managing editor of Life magazine …A social history that reads like a novel."—Newsweek
"One of the most interesting documents ever to come out of the Old South. It is stunningly dramatic; it reads like good fiction. For different reasons, William Faulkner and Margaret Mitchell would have been fascinated with it."—New Republic
"A remarkable collection of family letters … [that] show how the Hammonds were trapped in a blighting and unrealizable dream of aristocracy …The correspondence reveals much about the Hammond family's feelings and, specifically, about the plight of its women. With the help of Carol Bleser's fine introductions and ample notes, one can sense the broader implications of this particular family's history for anyone interested in the social history of women and of the South."—New York Times Book Review