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Book Review: Masters of Small Worlds

by Suleman


Stephanie McCurry wrote the novel ‘Masters of Tiny Worlds’ in 1997. The translator of this book is an expert in the past of the nineteenth century of the United States of America. She focuses on South America, especially during the period of the civil war. She’s really enthusiastic about the history of gender and sexuality. Knowing the author’s roots and mentality is relevant since this will assist in recognising her points of view in this novel. With the primary purpose of illustrating the author’s core point, this paper would study Stephanie McCurry’s book ‘Masters of Tiny Worlds’. The paper would often equate and contrast Stephanie McCurry ‘s opinions with other writers’ opinions. At the end, the article will judge this book and the author’s study.

From a new viewpoint, Masters of Small Worlds discusses the bond between planters and Yeomen. The Low Area of South Carolina is the nation chosen by the author to perform her analysis. It is worth mentioning, by choosing this area, that the author exposes the presence of a class of citizens in Yeomen that has been overlooked in history for a very long time. The author often tries to connect the social and political motives of the citizens of the Yeomen with the politically powerful aristocracy of the planters. In my view, in speaking about a tribe that is not so famous, the author has done a wonderful job. In culture, the tribe seems to have been neglected and overlooked for a long time.

Book Review: Masters of Small Worlds

The author calls to our notice in the book the reality that the Yeomen were often searching for a republican government and not for an democratic culture. The Yeomen is, according to McCurry, rulers of their own land. In the 1860 secession that took place in South Carolina, they played a very significant part. The author is accurate that it is traditionally understood that the Yeomen people protect their own identities, hence the term “masters of tiny worlds” (McCurry, p. 306).

In upholding all the points, statements and assumptions she has created in the novel , the author has done a wonderful job. She also given a tonne of proof that helps to justify why she has taken the decisions in her book that she has taken. The first case where this can be found is when her research group has been defined by the author (McCurry, p. 6). She wanted to concentrate on a particular category of persons, the South Carolina Yeomen. This community is an essential study group, since the group was historically invisible and overlooked, according to the scholar. In explaining how the Yeomen individuals have arisen as a numerically important and coherent community of persons, the author has tried to do a decent job. To show this reality, she uses court records and census documentation and this is used to validate her claim in the book (McCurry, p. 24).

The author also states that she chose South Carolina’s Yeomen people because their area has a rather special geography that makes it easier to put the Yeomen next to the planters. It is this proximity between the Yeomen and the planters that enabled their contact and needed it. The statement of the author merely reflects on the arrangement of the families of the Yeomen and the plantations that are claimed to have a patriarchal arrangement. To compare and contrast the social partnership between the planters and the Yeomen, there are various instances that have been quoted by the scholar. One case is that the author reveals that the power over both the Yeomen and the planters’ estates are in the possession of the white males. The author continues to note that the similarities in the authority system helped the elites to exploit Yeomen citizens to help the planters’ political roles (McCurry, p. 201).

The author is seen in the book as emphasising that women are very significant in their position as historical participants. This is often exposed as gender is treated as an empirical group. The book also reveals that the political judgments taken by the individuals of the Low Country Yeomen is profoundly embedded in household politics (McCurry, p. 122).

In regard to how the opinions of the author differ from the opinions of others, there are those who seem to disagree with the author about how the Yeomen farmers related to the slaves (McCurry, p. 91). There are those who do not agree on whether the study should have focused in the whites or on blacks. This is evident where McCurry insists on reminding the readers that the Yeomen and the planters were always aware of the fact that the black majority were more prevalent. There are other people on the other hand who criticize the author for focusing too much on whites and leaving out the blacks yet they are the majority (McCurry, p. 24).

In the book, the author reveals that there are two distinct social classes in the area under study. These classes are the Yeomen and the planters. These similarities and differences are brought out by exploring the interactions between the two classes of people. Gender relations are also brought into the equation by the author. A good example of this is how the men of that part of the country and of that era demanded control over all the aspects of life. The book is particularly insightful on a number of issues such as gender, class and race and how these issues make history (McCurry, p. 11).

Another important aspect of the book is how men have been depicted as being the heads who had power over so many issues in these communities. The author also focuses on slavery and its prevalence in this society. The nature of the authors explanations prove that the book is very well researched and that it is based on evidence from detailed studies (McCurry, p. 11).

On another level, the book is very original in the sense that it presents new and cutting edge information regarding the lives of the Yeomen and the planters. The author has reviewed the similarities that exist between marriage and involuntary servitude. The book clearly depicts the inequalities that were there between the various classes of people in society during that time and place in history (McCurry, p. 10).


In conclusion, the book, “Masters of Small Worlds” by Stephanie McCurry is a very innovative and enlightening study of the Yeomen people of South Carolina Low Country. The book has explored the complexities of the public and domestic relationships that enmeshed the Yeomen within the plantation society. The book is very unique since it reveals the contradictory politics of the slave society. The uniqueness of this comes about when the class of small farmers in society is seen extracting the privileges of master hood of the powerful planters of that region. The author has revealed that the Yeomen have always been looking for one republican democracy and not to have an egalitarian society. According to McCurry, the Yeomen were masters of their own domain. The Yeomen have been referred to as masters of small worlds because they have been able to defend their own identity. They have been able to stand out despite the fact that they are a minority group and are dominated by another superior group of planters. The Yeomen are also masters because they have managed to reveal themselves despite the fact that they were previously ignored and not known.

Works Cited
  • McCurry, Stephanie. Masters of Small Worlds: Yeoman Households, Gender Relations and the Political Culture of the Antebellum South Carolina Low Country. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. Print.

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