|Reviews & Comments
"A fascinating account . . . Todd confronts the tragic actions of his forebears with dispassionate honesty."
—Malcolm Jones, Newsweek, October 20, 2008
"A sweeping tale of the South itself and a touching testament to [Dave.]"
—Publishers Weekly, August 11, 2008
"[Leonard Todd] has the sensibility of an artist captivated by the beauty, and often the size, of Dave's jars. . . . Equally notable is Todd's intense, courageous curiosity about his ancestors and their relationships with Dave. . . . Altogether, a most impresssive and welcome addition to the history of southern pottery, slavery, and Edgefield."
—James O. Farmer, Jr., The South Carolina Historical Magazine, October 2008
"At the center of this narrative you'll find a single slave who possessed a spirit that soared free and into art. . . . Carolina Clay is transformative—it teaches that in some ways we've been on a slow march toward justice. Dave's story, so eloquently and enticingly told in Carolina Clay, helps us continue moving forward."
—Clyde Edgerton, Garden & Gun, February/March 2009
"Todd has the flair of a novelist or travel-writer for the telling detail, which makes every chapter memorable. . . . The research on Dave himself is amazing. . . . Carolina Clay will likely stand as the most complete history of Dave, a man who has quickly assumed heroic proportions in South Carolina."
—Scott Reynolds Nelson, The American Scholar, Autumn 2008
"Todd makes this man's difficult but productive life come alive. And how fascinating for this author when he discovers that there is a surprising family connection to Dave."
—Maureen Mackey, ReadersDigest.com, December 23, 2008
"[In] his fascinating book . . . the author brilliantly highlights changing currents in the South Carolina past to infer how Dave was able to exploit crevices in the slave system."
—Sterling Stuckey, Journal of Southern History, Feb 1, 2010
not only brings the rich talents of David Drake to life, but Leonard
Todd offers an historical perspective on race relations at a time in
the South where the lines between black and white were drawn and
dangerous to cross. Well written and a long overdue celebration of master artisan David Drake!"
—Tracey Ricks Foster, African American Literary Review & News, Oct. 16, 2008
"While the slave journey is always an emotional one for African-Americans, you find a sense of pride nonetheless through the poetic accomplishments of Dave . . . Carolina Clay brings the noble Dave the Slave completely and intelligently into the 21st century!"
—Swaggie Coleman, for Rawsistaz, BlackBookReviews.net, April 9, 2009
"Sensitive, respectful . . . captivating."
—Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2008
"Carolina Clay encompasses far more than Dave's biography. It is also a poignant memoir and a haunting history of slavery in South Carolina, viewed through one slave, one family, one tiny southern town. Todd combined all these elements elegantly and eloquently, much as Dave molded clay into artful ceramics."
—Marsha Dubrow, Examiner.com, October 16, 2008
"Todd has produced an exemplary work of adventurous nonfiction . . . vivid, moving and suspenseful."
—Rob Neufeld, Asheville (N. C.) Citizen-Times, February 1, 2009
"This family story is our story—the South's history, and as uncomfortable as it may be, we owe it to Dave—and to all who Dave represents—to remember. At its heart, this is a story of atonement."
—Ramsey Nix, Lake Oconee Living, Summer 2009
"[A] uniquely American story. . . . a powerful and poignant journey of discovery."
—David Woodbury, Of Battlefields and Bibliophiles (www.obab.blogspot.com),
2 November 2009
". . . a 21st-century man's odyssey through time to explore one forgotten Carolina community, a place in the South that provides a paradigm of America's historic and historical dilemma."
—Philip Kopper, The Washington Times, March 27, 2009
"[An] exhaustive investigation into [Dave's] life and times, which [Todd] details here, in this fascinating book."
—Nicholas Basbanes, www.finebooksmagazine.com, April 5, 2009
"This book provides a real feel for a slave's life and experience. Reading about how often Dave was sold and had to restart his family . . . will make a lasting impresssion on teens."
—Joanne Ligamari, School Library Journal
"Leonard Todd thrusts his hands deeply—and bravely—into the red clay of
the old South and emerges with a rare and rewarding gift for the modern
reader: an elegantly written saga, at once intimate and historic."
—Neil Baldwin, author of The
American Revelation: Ten Ideals that Shaped Our Country from the
Puritans to the Cold War
"The pottery and poems of Dave are true American treasures. Leonard Todd's heartfelt exploration of Dave's story is unique and compelling, an exciting contribution to our country's ceramic history."
—Robert Hunter, Editor, Ceramics in America
"Profound and fresh, Carolina Clay exemplifies that rare kind of biography that not only deepens our understanding of history but also prods us toward a new historical vision of the past."
—Michael Chaney, author of Fugitive Vision: Slave Image and Black Identity in Antebellum Narrative
"Carolina Clay is remarkable for its precision, intelligence, and heart. A powerful, moving tribute to Dave, both the historical person and mythic hero, and to all enslaved African Americans."
—Orville Vernon Burton, author of The Age of Lincoln
"Leonard Todd has given us a gripping and full portrait of a courageous slave craftsman, who, by daring to write on his jars, transformed his bondage into personal affirmation. Carolina Clay should be at the top of the reading list for anyone interested in American history and decorative arts."
—John A. Burrison, author of Brothers in Clay: The Story of Georgia Folk Pottery
"Carolina Clay is both a beautifully written narrative and a fascinating historical detective story. The author painstakingly puts together the clues that allow him to reconstruct the life and times of one of America's greatest folk artists."
—Charles Joyner, author of Down by the Riverside: A South Carolina Slave Community
"An eloquent account of the author's search for Dave, full of stirring connections between past and present."
—Jill Beute Koverman, Curator of Collections, McKissick Museum, University of South Carolina
"Through an artful intermingling of Dave's story with that of his owners, Leonard Todd has created a narrative that is rich with color and insights into the complexities of human relationships under our nation's 'peculiar institution.'"
—Thomas L. Webber, author of Deep Like the Rivers: Education in the Slave Quarter Community, 1831-1865