Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South

Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South

by Beth Macy


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The true story of two African-American brothers who were kidnapped and displayed as circus freaks, and whose mother endured a 28-year struggle to get them back.

The year was 1899 and the place a sweltering tobacco farm in the Jim Crow South town of Truevine, Virginia. George and Willie Muse were two little boys born to a sharecropper family. One day a white man offered them a piece of candy, setting off events that would take them around the world and change their lives forever.

Captured into the circus, the Muse brothers performed for royalty at Buckingham Palace and headlined over a dozen sold-out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden. They were global superstars in a pre-broadcast era. But the very root of their success was in the color of their skin and in the outrageous caricatures they were forced to assume: supposed cannibals, sheep-headed freaks, even "Ambassadors from Mars." Back home, their mother never accepted that they were "gone" and spent 28 years trying to get them back.

Through hundreds of interviews and decades of research, Beth Macy expertly explores a central and difficult question: Where were the brothers better off? On the world stage as stars or in poverty at home? Truevine is a compelling narrative rich in historical detail and rife with implications to race relations today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316337526
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 10/17/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 221,502
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Beth Macy is the author of the widely acclaimed and bestselling books Truevine and Factory Man. Based in Roanoke, Virginia for three decades, her reporting has won more than a dozen national awards, including a Nieman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard.

Table of Contents

Prologue: I Am the True Vine 11

Part 1

1 Sit Down and Shut Up 23

2 White Peoples Is Hateful 38

3 And Still the Cry Against Us Continues 62

Part 2

4 Your Momma Is Dead 85

5 Some Serious Secrets 124

6 A Paying Proposition 159

7 He Who Hustleth While He Waiteth 203

8 Comma, Colored 229

Part 3

9 The Prodigal Sons 249

10 Not One Single, Solitary, Red Penny 278

11 Adultery's Siamese Twin 317

Part 4

12 Housekeeping! 335

13 Practically Imbeciles 366

Part 5

14 Very Good Old Colored Woman 411

15 Wilbur and John 442

16 God Is Good to Me 459

Epilogue: Markers 486

Acknowledgments 495

Notes 503

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