We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
 >   > 
Truevine Audiobook

Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South

Regular Price:$29.65
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Publisher's Summary

The true story of two African American brothers who were kidnapped and displayed as circus freaks, and whose mother endured a 28-year struggle to get them back.

The year was 1899, and the place a sweltering tobacco farm in the Jim Crow South town of Truevine, Virginia. George and Willie Muse were two little boys born to a sharecropper family. One day a white man offered them a piece of candy, setting off events that would take them around the world and change their lives forever.

Captured into the circus, the Muse brothers performed for royalty at Buckingham Palace and headlined over a dozen sold-out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden. They were global superstars in a pre-broadcast era. But the very root of their success was in the color of their skin and in the outrageous caricatures they were forced to assume: supposed cannibals, sheep-headed freaks, even "ambassadors from Mars". Back home their mother never accepted that they were gone and spent 28 years trying to get them back.

Through hundreds of interviews and decades of research, Beth Macy expertly explores a central and difficult question: Where were the brothers better off? On the world stage as stars or in poverty at home? Truevine is a compelling narrative rich in historical detail and rife with implications to race relations today.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2016 Beth Macy (P)2016 Hachette Audio

What the Critics Say

"'It's the best story in town,' a colleague told Beth Macy decades ago, 'but no one has been able to get it.' She now has, with tenacity and sensitivity. She gives a singular sideshow its due, offering these 'Ambassadors from Mars' a remarkable, deeply affecting afterlife." (Stacy Schiff, author of The Witches)

"Nonfiction storytelling at its finest.... It does what the best business books should: It delivers a heavily researched, highly entertaining story, at the end of which you realize you've learned something.... This is a great American story, the kind that we don't read often enough." (Bryan Burrough, New York Times)

"Macy vividly illustrates circus life during the 1920s, and she movingly depicts how the brothers' protective, determined mother, Harriett, eventually discovered and rescued them almost a decade and a half later.... A sturdy, passionate, and penetrating narrative. This first-rate journey into human trafficking, slavery, and familial bonding is an engrossing example of spirited, determined reportage." (Kirkus)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (68 )
5 star
 (33)
4 star
 (19)
3 star
 (9)
2 star
 (6)
1 star
 (1)
Overall
4.1 (63 )
5 star
 (34)
4 star
 (13)
3 star
 (9)
2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (2)
Story
4.3 (64 )
5 star
 (37)
4 star
 (15)
3 star
 (7)
2 star
 (2)
1 star
 (3)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Vicki Montpelier, VA, United States 02-02-17
    Vicki Montpelier, VA, United States 02-02-17 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    65
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    492
    77
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating story hidden in tedium"

    I love the story of this book and have a deep admiration for the work and years it must have taken to dig out the details of what happened to the Muse brothers. Given that the story begins in the early 1900's, that was a daunting task. My problem with the book is the amount of other information and tedious detail added. The brother's story alone wasn't enough for a book so there's every detail about circus life, the KKK of Roanoke, sharecropper life, the railroad, you name it.
    I'm glad I read it because it's a bit of history about the area where I grew up that I didn't know, but I think I would have preferred a magazine article to the rehashing of the racial history, railroad history and development history of the area. In the end I'm not really sure what her underlying objective was in writing the book. Was it to tell the Muse brother's story and everything else was filler or was it a racial history with the Muse brothers as exhibit A. Either way, it was kind of a slog to get through.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mel USA 02-09-17
    Mel USA 02-09-17 Member Since 2009

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    15174
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    767
    350
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    7338
    19
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Cashing In: There's One Born Every Minute"


    This is how long it took me to put away my Christmas decorations, 11 hrs. but on 2x speed. Why do I mention that mundane fact? Because I had no knowledge of George and Willie Muse prior to reading this book and picked this title based on the praise from publishers as well as the high ratings here, and I was so preoccupied with my task that I endured more than enjoyed the time spent with this story. That is not to say I wasn't impressed with the author and her facts, but Macy's talent and research was a volume of impressive local stories and research more worthy of a conference of likewise minded reporters, or George and Willie enthusiasts. I felt at times like a deer in the headlights, caught in an outpouring of information intended for a specific target group. What kept me engaged in this book (besides my wrapping and boxing) about a subject I had no desire to delve into was the underlying social questions. The author is careful not to steer your thinking in any direction, and objective enough to offer the reader a wider look at possibilities. The period of time (1899/Jim Crow South) was already a socially taut timeline and -- worth mentioning, prior to the Disability Rights Movement. Enter the most popular entertainment of the era: for one thin dime, the spectacle of the Circus and the freak sideshows.

    The multiple dilemmas were more interesting to me than the maze of trails Macy sleuthed down to uncover the *facts*. Imagine the difficulties a young African American mother faced hoping to provide a future for her two albino African-American sons, a sharecropper and daughter of slaves herself. I did, with the solid possibilities Macy provided. I even caught myself paying less attention to those delicate ornaments while I listened more closely. Weirdly fascinating to me at times though ultimately, I was not the specific target group to view this as the greatest show on earth. I recommend to that specific target group, and Roanoke locals interested in the history of the area.

    6 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Audra Lewisville, NC, United States 04-02-17
    Audra Lewisville, NC, United States 04-02-17 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful!!"

    This book was well written and researched. I learned so much about the area, the history and the brothers. Can't wait to read Beth Macy's next novel!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tracy R Scott 01-24-17 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Truly Eye Opening"

    This book was truly eye opening. As someone who lives in the area where this story takes place it was interesting to learn about the racial history. I had no idea because it's not talked about. This story was so very interesting. Helped me to gain a better understanding of the history of this area that I call home.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julee Moore 11-23-16
    Julee Moore 11-23-16
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great listen!!"

    I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the writing style. The reader of the book was outstanding.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Henson Virginia 11-02-16
    Chris Henson Virginia 11-02-16

    I'm an advertising creative, musician and family man. I like long walks with a dog who won't bug me while I'm listening to a good book.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    42
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "As American a tale as you're likely to find"

    First a caveat: Author Beth Macy is a dear, long-time friend of mine. It will be easy to read this review as "a favor for a friend." It is not. Beth would not like it if it was.

    Beth Macy has an uncanny knack for turning a story inside out. She's not afraid to interact with the telling of it, including bits of her own discussions with people being interviewed and how she came to find them. This gives the reader a rare glimpse of what it takes to write a history of two obscure people with a scant paper trail across an entire century. A quarter of that century was spent collecting the story and earning the trust of the community that keeps the memories of George and Wilie Muse alive.

    The story itself is pretty amazing — two young brothers whisked away to the circus by scruple-free carnies, their mother's unlikely showdown with Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey, and the constant grip of fear and injustice under Jim Crow. The stuff of regional legend for many decades, Truevine maintains the mythic feeling of a verbal retelling, while setting straight some of the misconceptions surrounding the family's adventures. The book crackles with many vivid characters and offers more than a timid peek into the sideshow tent.

    But most of all, Truevine is an emotional train ride through history and hatred, culture and redemption. It's as American a tale as you're likely to find. As I listened to the final minutes, in the back of a Metro bus on the way to work this morning, I found myself looking at our city around me as it was many decades ago. Here was where the Big Top probably had stood. There was the bridge leading to Harriet Muse's bleak neighborhood. And I was struck by how fortunate it is that someone with Beth Macy's determination and caring wrote their story down. Fortunate for our community. And now, fortunate for you.

    My only complaint is a minor one. I wish like crazy that audiobook narrators would learn how to pronounce "Appalachia." It's "apple-ATCH-uh." Beth would NEVER make that mistake.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.