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Extended Audio Sample Cane River Audiobook, by Lalita Tademy Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (20,561 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Lalita Tademy Narrator: Shari Belafonte, Edwina Moore, JoMarie Payton Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2005 ISBN: 9781594834103
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Lalita Tademy was a successful vice president at Sun Microsystems when she began what became an obsessive two-year search to uncover the story of her family’s roots. It was a personal odyssey that took her back to the early 1800s and a small rural community on Louisiana’s Cane River. There, digging through official records, conducting interviews, and relying on the expertise of professional genealogists, Tademy was able to bring to vivid life four remarkable women—her great, great, great, great grandmother Elisabeth; her great, great, great grandmother Suzette; her great, great grandmother Philomene; and her great-grandmother Emily. Beginning in slavery, sweeping through the Civil War, and bringing us into the pre–Civil Rights South, we follow the struggles of these four women through extraordinary hardships as they learn to empower themselves, get their due, and preserve their heritage—despite overwhelming pressures.

Meticulously researched and beautifully written, this woman’s “Roots” presents a slice of American history never before seen in such piercing and personal detail.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A compelling story! A powerful book!”

    Billie Letts, American novelist and educator

  • “A long-overdue response to Alex Haley’s Roots…It is about…the quiet unmapped stories that make up history.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Rich with fascinating detail…powerful in its story-telling…a journey well worth taking.”

    San Jose Mercury News

  • “While she fully imagines their lives, she doesn’t pander to the reader by introducing melodrama or sex. Her frank observations about black racism add depth to the tale.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • An Oprah’s Book Club Selection in 2001
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joanna | 2/17/2014

    " I really enjoyed most of this book. Honestly though, it started dragging for me and I started feeling like "C'mon already, move it along." I found the characters rich and full of life, but after a while it was hard to keep up with all of them. Maybe if I had one of the genealogy charts laid out in front of me each time I read it would have helped. I'm sure this book is very meaningful to many people. I also realized that maybe I should just fictionalize my family story and write that. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marlaina | 2/7/2014

    " This was a well written historical fiction that shows about 4 generations of slaves growing up in LA. I found it extremely interesting and Im impressed at the time and effort she put in to make this book to come to life. I can relate to the characters; be warned, this is an oprah's book club. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stacy | 2/7/2014

    " Liked the story, but faded out in the end. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beth | 2/6/2014

    " Actually better than I expected. It got off to a slow start, but I very much enjoyed reading her take on her family's history. She actually did make them "come alive" for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pam Oconnor | 2/5/2014

    " This is a fascinating book. IT is actually based on the surviving history of the author's ancestors. That makes it interesting, but the most interesting thing about this book to me, was the interweaving of the races. There was just as much white blood as African American in this family and yet these people had no rights as citizens. They could not own land. The frenchman Joseph Biulles, who was completely devoted to Emily and their children, in the end had to give up the fight and send them away and marry a white woman to keep himself safe. The fact that the women of this family were the strength of the family and they were the ones who pulled the family upwards and they were the ones who raised the youngsters, many of whos father's didn't or couldn't raise them explains much to me about the way things are today. A very thought provoking book and a mesmerizing story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mathilde Apelt | 2/2/2014

    " Though I might not go to the Hayward library, I still want to participate in reading the selection for Sally's group. I am reading the book for the second time (though I'd forgotten most of it) and all comes back. I am still in the first part, "Suzette," and am amazed at the skill of the writer who obviously did a lot of research about her family and makes an interesting story of it. The pressure that the poor girl had to endure to choose a man with lighter color as herself, is pityful. I can hardly wait to see how the marriage to the Frenchman turns out. Mathilde. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Julie Anderson | 1/31/2014

    " One of only a few books that I could not finish reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Charlie | 1/25/2014

    " An intricate and unique history of three generations of women struggling against slavery and prejudice in 1800s Louisiana. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joanie | 1/23/2014

    " I was expecting more from this book in detail. The author seemed to really focus on that detail in the beginning, but then lost that when she rushed through the story of Emily and her family. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dee | 1/16/2014

    " Oh what a treasure. To have written evidence of your ancestry. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 12/9/2013

    " I enjoyed that the author took her family history and photographs and wove a fictional story together. It was well written and followed a family line that led to her. Enjoyed "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Christine Travers | 11/30/2013

    " One of my favorite books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Monique | 9/21/2013

    " Great book. I think I liked it because Cane River is the River that travels through my hometown (the town in LA where I grew up). The author (african american) traces her ancestry through the plantations of Louisiana. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sandy | 8/29/2013

    " A very powerful and emotionally draining book. Very well written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hope4flowers | 7/7/2013

    " Amazing look at the South, slavery, question of race and ties that bind "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristy | 4/28/2013

    " An incredible book, another one that I couldn't put down! Don't start it till you have a lot of time to devote to reading, or you'll be depriving yourself of sleep! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meg | 3/27/2013

    " Nice story about an African American family with strong maternal characters. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laurie Sharpe | 3/12/2013

    " It is a good read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris | 2/12/2013

    " Very interesting book--I couldn't put it down and when I did I couldn't wait to get back to it. Lalita Tademy is justified in the pride she has in her family, especially the line of strong women. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Caroline | 1/19/2013

    " LOVE a book with photographs! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tiffany | 12/30/2012

    " One of my favorite books ever! Love the genre (historical fiction), love the author's story, and love the characters. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Debbie Petrina | 11/7/2012

    " I loved this book. It is true, educational, and very well written. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kimberly | 7/5/2012

    " loved this book. definate page turner "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Diane | 3/19/2012

    " Author gives valuable insight into skin color and privilege as experienced/perpetuated in four generations of black women. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debbie | 11/2/2011

    " Loved this book. Many interesting lessons about slavery. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jen | 7/22/2011

    " One of the best books I have ever read! (probably about 8 years ago) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathy | 7/19/2011

    " I've just re-read this novel, based on the author's own family history. She does an amazing job of bringing the people, place and social history of a family of slaves and slave owners to life. Highly recommended. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sharon | 5/23/2011

    " loved reading her family history. Thought she told the story wonderfully and although it is considered fiction, was based on the lives of slaves through several generations. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lynn | 5/15/2011

    " A top ten from the past decade. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sheri | 5/1/2011

    " loved this book. the help reminded of this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ekuwa | 4/26/2011

    " This book inspired me to research my own family tree. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ruth | 4/25/2011

    " So far I'm really enjoying this am reading it based on Ricky's recommendation. Story of the author's family going back several generations to the days of slavery. Gives you a real feel for what life was like, and although it's non fiction, it reads like a well told story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stacy | 4/14/2011

    " Liked the story, but faded out in the end. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lily | 4/11/2011

    " Not a great book, lots of flaws, but I enjoyed reading it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alison | 4/7/2011

    " Wow. This book starts off a little slow, but then really gets going. Amazing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Margaret | 4/5/2011

    " I liked this story...maybe because I am interested in genealogy. Lalita Tademy did a wonderful job tracing her own family. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amy | 4/3/2011

    " Another book that I recommended after I read it. So good. Been years since I've read it, I may have to read again. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kendra | 4/3/2011

    " Amazing journey through multiple generations that endure and endure with family at the heart of everything. So much important history is covered but only as a background to these women who survive the unsurvivable with dignity and grace. "

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About the Author
Author Lalita Tademy

Lalita Tademy was born in Berkeley, California, far from her parents’ Southern roots. A former vice president of Sun Microsystems, she left the corporate world to immerse herself in tracing her family’s history and writing her first book, Cane River, based on the lives of four generations of colored Creole slave women in Louisiana, women Tademy descended from. She is also the author of Red River, a historical novel based on real events during Reconstruction after the Civil War.