In My Blood
Six Generations of Madness and Desire in an American Family
John Sedgwick's widely praised novels introduced readers to the rarified enclave of Brahmin Boston, in which privilege and elitism, handed down from one generation to the next, come at a price. He discovered for himself just how great that price can be when, while writing his second novel, he spiraled into a profound depression that threatened his life.
This crisis provoked him to search for the source of his malaise. Did it begin with him, or did it begin before, possibly even long before, with previous generations whose genes he bore? If so, how had the "family illness," as he came to think of it, shaped their lives, and come to define his? To find the answers, he launched into a full-scale investigation of his family's history—one of the oldest, and fully documented in America. It was, at once, a very personal journey of self-discovery, and a broader retracing of his family's evolution, as he pored over the many extraordinary Sedgwicks who had gone before—from the protean early Speaker of the House Theodore Sedgwick through to Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol's muse and the 1960s "It Girl." Both a brimming family saga and a courageous narrative, the book paints a startlingly candid portrait of a man and an eminent American family.
Praise For In My Blood: Six Generations of Madness and Desire in an American Family…
— Wall Street Journal
“Articulate, insightful…and substantial…Mr. Sedgwick provides a clear, incisive view of a complicated family.”
— Janet Maslin, New York Times
“Gorgeous...fascinating...it’s John Sedgwick’s struggles with his own health and identity that give this book its literary power.”
— USA Today
“Compelling family biography…These people are...like characters in a very good novel...[Sedgwick] writes with great confidence.”
— Linda Wertheimer, NPR's Weekend Edition
“Engrossing, affecting, and enlightening...A grand, candid, and sensitive family memoir...unique in its perspective on American history.”
— Donna Seaman, Chicago Tribune
“A gift...The Sedgwick story engages us with the powers and insights of a great novel.”
— Boston Globe
“The combination of privilege and affliction is seductive.”
— Daily News
“This reading promises to be an excellent portrait, not just of madness, but of one of the major American families.”
“Sedgwick has a keen eye for detail...The finely honed prose glides along effortlessly.”
— Publishers Weekly
“The individual stories are fascinating…With a writer’s eye for detail, Sedgwick provides an unflinchingly honest chronicle of a...familial odyssey.”
“[Sedgwick] offers up a very personal look at his family history.”
— New York Times
Harper, 9780060521592, 432pp.
Publication Date: February 5, 2008
About the Author
John Sedgwick is the author of the novels The Dark House and The Education of Mrs. Bemis, and contributes regularly to Newsweek, GQ, and The Atlantic, among other publications. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.