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Friday, July 8, 2016

The Sport of Kings by C. E. Morgan

This is a novel of epic scope, which you know immediately because the dust cover says that it contains an account of the tendrils that slavery has woven into our culture.  Even weighing in at 550 pages, it doesn't seem like enough space to sort that out.  That said, the novel is as satisfying as it is ambitious, the best book that I have read in a while.
The Forbes family is an ambitious Kentucky family who settled the land as the first white people there, and they relied on slaves to grow their tobacco and their fortunes.  Henry is unapologetic about that history.  He even goes so far as to dismiss it, focusing instead on the glory his family gained.  He rebels against his father and transforms their land into a race horse operation, and his ambition is so blind that he literally destroys his only daughter in the process.
Parallel to the Forbes is the story of an African American family with flaws and talents commensurate with the Forbes but with very different resources and therefore a very different trajectory.  Their stories intermingle so that their ultimate tragedy is a shared one.

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