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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
John Bailey has written a thoroughly researched, in-depth account of slavery in 19th-century New Orleans. Hmm. Sounds like an arduous read, filled with boring historical detail, right? Wrong. Bailey's work is fast-paced and exhilarating, and it reads like a detective novel, full of intrigue, suspense and compelling courtroom drama. In fact, readers will have to keep reminding themselves that Bailey's tale is no work of fiction, but a true story.
One spring morning in 1843, in the Spanish Quarter of New Orleans, a German immigrant recognizes the face of a young German girl who had disappeared 25 years earlier. But this girl is a slave -- with no memory of her "white" past. Is she truly Mary Miller, as she claims? Or Salomé Müller, enslaved as an orphaned child of German immigrants? And why can't she remember what happened to her? So begins the riveting saga of one woman's fight for freedom in what would become one of the most sensational legal cases in American history.
Like a sleuth, Bailey masterfully leads readers through a maze of evidence, picking up clues from newspapers, pamphlets, court transcripts, and eyewitness accounts. Through startling twists and turns, he unravels the mystery that once had all of New Orleans in its grip. After the first few pages, it will grab you, too. (Spring 2005 Selection)