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The Standing Rabbit

Band of Angels by Robert Penn Warren

Band of Angels by Robert Penn Warren

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Band of Angels by Robert Penn Warrenis a 314-page hardcover published in 1955 by Random House, New York.  The dust jacket has shelf wear along the edges and a large open tear along the back cover.  Inside, there is some foxing to the end pages but the pages are clean and unmarked and the binding is tight.  This is a Book Club Edition in good condition.

Book Summary

This is the story of Amantha Starr, as she tells it, at the time of the Civil War and the years immediately before and after.

She begins with her motherless childhood in Kentucky, on her father's plantation, and then moves on to Oberlin, Ohio, where she is sent at the age of nine for her education--not to return until years later, at sixteen, when she hears of her father's sudden death.

But the real beginning is the shocking revelation she encounters at her father's graveside, where in an instant she is transformed from a Kentucky girl of high station, free and white, into one of her bankrupt father's slaves.  She learns that her mother had been a slave of the plantation, and that she herse;f is subject to seizure and sale by his creditors.  She is sold to a dealer and taken downriver to New Orleans, where her beauty and youth command a good price.

From this point on her life is one of violent contrasts, lived in the violence of war and its aftermaths.  It is the story of her struggle to be free--free in more than the legal sense--and of how the various people through whom she sought freedom failed, just as her father had, to give it to her:  Hamish Bond who had great wealth and property but who lived with a dark secret; Seth Parton, her Oberlin sweetheart, who reappears in New Orleans in Federal uniform; Miss Idell, former mistress of her father; Rau-Ru, the black child snatched from the Congo to become a hero in America; Tobias Sears, the New England idealist to whom the butcheries of war must be justified by "truth."

Band of Angels is an incisive interpretation of one of the darkest and most formative periods in American history.  And it is a skillful set of variations on an important theme--What is freedom, and how is it attained?

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