Homelands and Waterways

The American Journey of the Bond Family, 1846-1926

Publisher: Vintage
This monumental history traces the rise of a resolute African American family (the author's own) from privation to the middle class. In doing so, it explodes the stereotypes that have shaped and distorted our thinking about African Americans--both in slavery and in freedom.

Beginning with John Robert Bond, who emigrated from England to fight in the Union Army during the Civil War and married a recently freed slave, Alexander shows three generations of Bonds as they take chances and break new ground.

From Victorian England to antebellum Virginia, from Herman Melville's New England to the Jim Crow South, from urban race riots to the battlefields of World War I, this fascinating chronicle sheds new light on eighty crucial years in our nation's troubled history. The Bond family's rise from slavery, their interaction with prominent figures such as W. E. B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington, and their eventual, uneasy realization of the American dream shed a great deal of light on our nation's troubled heritage.


From Chapter One

Sprawled near the Irish Sea, on England's windswept River Mersey, Liverpool--its population nearing 400,000 by the 1840s and distended by masses of immigrants--became the island nation's greatest port.1 In earlier years, the Mersey had been little more than a broad, shallow estuary where treacherous...
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"Masterfully traces the lives of three generations of an African American family as it grows from meager means to the middle class. Alexander has informed her book with a deep sensitivity to human complexity."         --Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

"An unforgettable, stunning portrait, not only of the Bond family, but of  the American social fabric." --Seattle Times

"[A] biography of a family, a text in African American studies, and a  work of U.S. history . . . spun into gold."         --The Women's Review of Books

"Captures the currents of cultural change that swept the nation. . . . [A]n impressive historical tapestry."         --USA Today