In this 8-CD audio edition (playing time: about 11 hours), the voices of Dr. Walter Edgar and Anita Rosenberg bring to life the members of the William Bull Pringle family of Charleston, South Carolina during the Civil War era. Born to affluence and opportunity in the South's Golden Age, Mary Motte Alston Pringle (1803-1884) represented the epitome of Southern white womanhood. Her husband was a wealthy rice planter who owned four plantations and 337 slaves. Her thirteen children included two Harvard scholars, seven world travelers, a U.S. Navy war hero, six Confederate soldiers, one possible Union collaborator, a Confederate firebrand trapped in the North, an expatriate bon vivant in France, and two California pioneers. Mary's World illuminates in lavish detail the world and psyche of this wealthy, well-educated, well-intentioned woman and her family from the antebellum South. During the Civil War, Mary and her husband, William, stood helpless as two sons were killed, another was driven insane, their slaves were freed, and the world as they knew it was swept away by a hurricane of social change. In her own words, Mary tells us about the joys, sorrows, frustrations, and terrors she and her family faced in nineteenth-century Charleston. This intimate, visceral biography was drawn directly from over 2,500 pages of Mary's handwritten letters, journals and diaries, none of which, she could have imagined, would ever be read by strangers. Therein lies their power. Readers also learn about the vastly different lifestyles, food, clothing, and experiences of their slaves. Mary's World also pays special attention to Cretia Stewart, Mary's favorite servant, Cretia's husband, Scipio, and their freedescendants, some of whom worked for Mary's grandchildren well into the twentieth century. How Mary, William, their children, and slaves lived before the Civil War, clung desperately to life in the eye of the maelstrom, and coped or failed to cope — with its bewildering aftermath is the story of this book. The letters and images they left behind offer priceless insights into the anguished roots of Southern social history.
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