Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston, SC

Piccolo Spoleto Event with Ethan J. Kytle and Blain Roberts, Denmark Vesey’s Garden, Fri., June 9, 5 pm

Join us Tues., May 15, 5:30 pm as Professors Ethan J. Kytle and Blain Roberts will be here to discuss their new book Denmark Vesey’s Garden (The New Press, hb., 464 pp., $29).

A book that strikes at the source of the recent flare-ups over Confederate symbols in Charlottesville, New Orleans, and elsewhere, Denmark Vesey’s Garden reveals the deep roots of these controversies and traces them to the capital of slavery in the United States: Charleston, South Carolina, where almost half of the slaves brought to the U.S. stepped onto our shores, where the first shot at Fort Sumter began the Civil War, and where Dylann Roof murdered nine people at Emanuel A.M.E. Church, which was co-founded by Denmark Vesey, a black revolutionary who plotted a massive slave insurrection in 1822.

As early as 1865, former slaveholders and their descendants began working to construct a romanticized memory of the antebellum South. In contrast, former slaves, their descendants, and some white allies have worked to preserve an honest, unvarnished account of slavery as the cruel system it was.

Examining public rituals, controversial monuments, and competing musical traditions, Denmark Vesey’s Garden tracks these two rival memories from the Civil War to recent decades—when a segregated tourism industry reflecting these opposing visions of the past took hold in the popular vacation destination. Denmark Vesey’s Garden exposes a hidden dimension of America’s deep racial divide, joining the small bookshelf of major, paradigm-shifting interpretations of slavery’s enduring legacy in the United States.

Ethan J. Kytle is a professor of history at California State University, Fresno. The co-author, with Blain Roberts, of Denmark Vesey’s Garden (The New Press) and the author of Romantic Reformers and the Antislavery Struggle in the Civil War Era, he lives in Fresno, California.

Blain Roberts is a professor of history at California State University, Fresno. The co-author, with Ethan J. Kytle, of Denmark Vesey’s Garden (The New Press) and the author of Pageants, Parlors, and Pretty Women, she lives in Fresno, California.

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