I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's one of my favorite reads of the year so far.
The author has discovered that his ancestors were slave owners AND Ku Klux Clan members. And before you cast judgement on him for this fact, he shows that the odds of you having such an ancestor in your past are 50/50!
Ball traces the history of the slave trade in Louisiana, the effects of the Civil War and Reconstruction, the Jim Crow laws, and the birth of the Ku Klux Clan. To do so, he vividly describes the beliefs, attitudes, and feelings of the slave owners. And, to a degree, of the slaves themselves. He really made me feel like I was standing next to and talking with his ancestors. The rationales used to justify slavery are, honestly, heartbreaking. You cannot help but feel the despair of watching black families ripped apart as their children are sold as property, just like you would sell cattle or cotton. Or of the terror black families felt at the hands of the Ku Klux Clan. Or the feelings of disgust as you witness how the Clan is accepted, even encouraged, by people.
The author has also tracked down the ancestors of several of the characters in the book. Thru interviews with them he made further discoveries.
The author is trying to make amends for his family's past. It's a good step, admitting that we all have a duty to improve.
I highly recommend this book.