This book examines the home and leisure life of planters in the antebellum American South. Based on a lifetime of research by the late Eugene Genovese (1930-2012), with an introduction and epilogue by Douglas Ambrose, The Sweetness of Life presents a penetrating study of slaveholders and their families in both intimate and domestic settings: at home; attending the theatre; going on vacations to spas and springs; throwing parties; hunting; gambling; drinking and entertaining guests, completing a comprehensive portrait of the slaveholders and the world that they built with slaves. Genovese subtly but powerfully demonstrates how much politics, economics, and religion shaped, informed, and made possible these leisure activities. A fascinating investigation of a little-studied aspect of planter life, The Sweetness of Life broadens our understanding of the world that the slaveholders and their slaves made; a tragic world of both 'sweetness' and slavery.
Eugene D. Genovese, one of the most significant and distinguished historians of his time, spent a lifetime studying the society of the Old South. His books include The Political Economy of Slavery 1967), The World the Slaveholders Made (1988), In Red and Black (1973), From Rebellion to Revolution (1992), The Slaveholders' Dilemma (1992), A Consuming Fire (2009), and Roll, Jordan, Roll (1976), which was awarded the Bancroft Prize. With his wife, the late Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, he wrote Fruits of Merchant Capital (1983), The Mind of the Master Class (Cambridge, 2005), Slavery in White and Black (Cambridge, 2008), and Fatal Self-Deception (Cambridge, 2012). A past president of the Organization of American Historians, Genovese died in 2012. Douglas Ambrose is the Carolyn C. and David M. Ellis Distinguished Teaching Professor of History at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. The author of Henry Hughes and Proslavery Thought in the Old South (1996) and co-editor of The Many Faces of Alexander Hamilton (2007), Ambrose was a student of both Eugene D. Genovese and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese.