“I think Power in the Blood is a remarkable memoir, honestly and beautifully written despite the painful nature of some of the material. This is a big, human, and entirely revelatory book: it shows us all just how these things can happen, and how they can continue to happen down through generations. Linda Tate doesn’t really lay blame or make judgments; she shows real wisdom and compassion throughout.“

Lee Smith

“As memoir, and as a meditation on the meaning of memoir, history, and the restorative powers of both, Power in the Blood is as moving and profound as any life story I’ve encountered in quite a while…. It’s a wonderful read.”

Appalachian Journal

“Linda Tate’s gripping family history is an amalgam of scholarly sleuthing, richly imaginative embellishment, and sheer psychological grit that delves deep into family legend to produce a narrative both reflective and transcending of the Appalachian region.”

Now and Then: The Appalachian Magazine

“I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a way to combine research with imagination to create complex, lifelike characters that will grip readers’ hearts from the get-go.…Tate provides an unflinching view of complicated, deeply flawed individuals, who inflict a great deal of pain on their families. At the same time, she maintains a tone of fairness and understanding, and in the end she shows how knowledge and honesty can heal the psyche.”

Memoir Mentor

“Yes, this is a family narrative, but it is suffused with the particularities of Appalachia and with telling universality as well.”

Appalachian Heritage

“An extraordinary family journey, highly recommended….”

Midwest Book Review

“(Tate) uses her imagination in the storying of these women’s lives, and she does a great job. But as an accomplished academic, she is no slouch when it comes to research, either. It is a unique talent to harness both the creative and the academic and make it sound as simple as stirring up a batch of cornbread.”


“Brutal honesty… Paragon of persistence… Blazing versatility… Role model for all family historians… These are a few of the cryptic notes I jotted as I read Power in the Blood: A Family Narrative, by Linda Tate. I was struck by the impact of the basic story, and my appreciation deepened as I considered the craft and research involved in writing this gripping six generation tale.”

Story Circle Book Reviews

Power in the Blood works its way through a maze of trouble engendered by displacement and war in border regions. You begin to better appreciate Kitty Wells singing “It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tank Angels” and Dorothy Allison’s novel Bastard Out of Carolina.

Asheville Citizen-Times

“Tate threads the story of her father by hanging her text on females in the family, especially her great-great grandmother, great grandmother, and grandmother. Through them she skillfully weaves personal memories and family recollections (including those gleaned from newly met relatives). The author melds her personal memories, interviews, and formal research into an engaging story.”

Appalachian History blog

“The writing is lively and compelling and at times (Linda Tate) is painfully honest about childhood events. But it is the spare beauty of that honesty that makes this book extraordinary.”


Power in the Blood: A Family Narrative traces Linda Tate’s journey to rediscover the Cherokee-Appalachian branch of her family and provides an unflinching examination of the poverty, discrimination, and family violence that marked their lives. In her search for the truth of her own past, Tate scoured archives, libraries, and courthouses throughout Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Illinois, and Missouri, visited numerous cemeteries, and combed through census records, marriage records, court cases, local histories, old maps, and photographs. As she began to locate distant relatives — fifth, sixth, seventh cousins, all descended from her great-greatgrandmother Louisiana — they gathered in kitchens and living rooms, held family reunions, and swapped stories. A past that had long been buried slowly came to light as family members shared the pieces of the family’s tale that had been passed along to them.

Power in the Blood is a dramatic family history that reads like a novel, as Tate’s compelling narrative reveals one mystery after another. Innovative and groundbreaking in its approach to research and storytelling, Power in the Blood shows that exploring a family story can enhance understanding of history, life, and culture and that honest examination of the past can lead to healing and liberation in the present.

Linda Tate is a faculty member in the University of Denver’s Writing Program. She is the author of A Southern Weave of Women: Fiction of the Contemporary South and the editor of Conversations with Lee Smith. She taught at Shepherd University in West Virginia for fifteen years and now lives in Boulder, Colorado.

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Cover of 'Power in the Blood'


Electronic edition

978-0-8214-4346-0 · Retail price: $19.99 · Release date: Mar. 2009 · Rights: World

Hardcover edition

978-0-8214-1871-0 · Retail price: $49.95 · Release date: Mar. 2009 · 256 pages · 6 × 9 in. · Rights: World

Paperback edition

978-0-8214-1872-7 · Retail price: $26.95 · Release date: Mar. 2009 · 256 pages · 6 × 9 in. · Rights: World

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Series in Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in Appalachia

Related Subjects

American Studies · Native American Studies · Memoir · Creative Nonfiction · Appalachian Studies · Ohio and Regional · Appalachia · United States · North America · Americas · History

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