The Family Tree

  • by Karen Branan
  • Narrated by Pam Ward
  • 9 hrs and 0 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Harris County, Georgia, 1912. A white man, the beloved nephew of the county sheriff, is shot dead on the porch of a black woman. Days later, the sheriff sanctions the lynching of a black woman and three black men, all of them innocent.
For Karen Branan, the great-granddaughter of that sheriff, this isn't just history; this is family history. Branan spent nearly 20 years combing through diaries and letters, hunting for clues in libraries and archives throughout the United States to piece together the events and motives that led a group of people to murder four of their fellow citizens in such a brutal public display. Her research revealed surprising new insights into the day-to-day reality of race relations in the Jim Crow-era South, but what she ultimately discovered was far more personal.
A gripping story of privilege and power, anger, and atonement, The Family Tree transports listeners to a small Southern town steeped in racial tension and bound by powerful family ties. Branan takes us back in time to the Civil War, demonstrating how plantation politics and the Lost Cause movement set the stage for the fiery racial dynamics of the 20th century.


What the Critics Say

"A ghastly, dizzying descent into the coldblooded clannishness of the Southern racist mindset." (Kirkus)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


Karen Branan's courageous telling of the darkside of her own family history finds authentic Redemption. Her story captures the challenges as well as the essence of our collective demons of Race relations that still haunt us all as a nation. Her story is discloses demon of unresolved and unacknowledged social history of that continues to haunt and quietly devour countless American families.

It's a must read for those of us with Southern roots. It also is a great read for those seeking to deepen their understsnding of the social history and ongoing challenges of Race in the US.

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- Darryl C. Brooks

Brilliantly Written and Read

Such a wonderful journey through a family history that illuminates many of the racial issues we are dealing with today. Excessive use of force against blacks by law enforcement is the modern day system of lynching. We can't deal with a modern day problem without first understanding its history.

My family owned slaves in Virginia. Many people may not know their own family history, which is all the more reason to understand this family's history. They are more typical than exceptional and we need to own that in this country.

I would highly recommend this book to readers of every age and background.
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- Catherine S. Read

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-26-2016
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio