Power in the Blood — 2009

A Family Narrative

By Linda Tate

“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

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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.

Picture of Linda Tate

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.

  • Winner of the Colorado Author’s League Award for Creative Nonfiction
  • A 2010 Colorado Book Awards Finalist
  • A FEAST Ezine Best of 2009 (Nonfiction)
Cover of 'Power in the Blood'


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