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The Ditchdigger's Daughters: A Black Family's Astonishing Success Story Paperback – May 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 261 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (May 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452276195
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452276192
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,044,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The remarkable power of family values as articulated by an uneducated black man and his wife is played out in this loving memoir. Thornton is one of five daughters born to a laborer in a New Jersey shore town who was almost obsessed with the importance of education for his children and the nurturance of their talents. He strictly monitored their musical training, scrimping and wheedling where necessary to pay for their lessons. Eventually the Thornton Sisters Band was formed?a family enterprise whose financial success became the source of the daughters' college tuition. Although only two of the girls fulfilled their father's dream that they become doctors, all of them have successful careers. This picture by Thornton and Coudert (Advice from a Failure) of a black man's single-minded devotion to his family is a tribute to an extraordinary father who transcended racial prejudice to raise appreciative daughters to be independent women. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This memoir describes how, with seemingly unfailing energy and determination, Donald Thornton, working two jobs, saw each of his six daughters obtain an education and become established in a successful career. Using their musical talent, the Thornton girls gave performances for a number of years to help finance their schooling. Donald and his wife, Asker, gave their children the strength to achieve their goals in the face of hardships, not the least of which were racial and gender discrimination. Reader Fran Washington injects a great deal of feeling into the authors' words, bringing out a whole range of emotions, from joy to anguish. This is a warm-hearted, affectionate memoir that emphasizes the importance of family ties. Highly recommended.?Catherine Swenson, Norwich Univ. Lib., Northfield, Vt.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I've just finished reading this book one week ago.
L. Meredith Harris
The Ditchdigger's Daughter's story is such a beautiful story about a father and his relationship with his six daughters that I can relate to.
Silver
This is a true story about what you can accomplish if you work hard and get an education.
Read For Life

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
I'm a 32 year old white upper middle class female and picked up this book that was on my 16 year old sister's high school reading list (from a private catholic school ~can only hope they're mature enough to benefit from its powerful messages!).... WOW is this a good one! I like to read biographies, non-fiction, true stories and this is an awesome tale! It made me laugh, feel angry about injustices and ultimately cry (at the end when Mr. and Mrs. Thornton's lives were coming to an end....they had accomplished so much with dignity and acceptance. Unselfish, determined to do the right thing! ) I felt disappointed and sad , too, because I did not have the encouragement & advice from Mr. Thornton throughout my life! Sure, many parents struggle of all races and backgrounds, but how many so persistently insist on such lofty goals? not many...they give up...the children give up, too..... I would like to one day sit down & write each bit of advice from Mr. Thornton's wise, witty, and endless supply, I would have quite a stack to refer to! I'm encouraged to be a better person and a better parent under circumstances that will probably never ever be as a challenging as those of the Thornton's. Way to go Dr. Yvonne Thornton...p.s.Maria Shriver's latest best seller should step aside! It doesn't compare to The Ditchdigger's Daughters!
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Reader's Paradise VINE VOICE on August 15, 2002
Format: School & Library Binding
As a book reviewer I get several books to read, review, and sometimes return. Some of these books are so good I do not want to return them. Ditchdigger's Daughters is one of those books. When I first picked this book up, I was feeling a little defeated and exasperated about my job. This book gave me Donald Thornton wisdom to be the best, never mind that my colleagues are faster and younger. As Donald Thornton would say find the brightest rabbit, catch up to him/her, and pass him.
Donald Thornton passed away in 1993. What he left behind for his daughters to peruse is his wit and wisdom. Still today, I bet his daughters have every lesson stored so they can pass it on to their children. He had no education but somehow he raised six girls to become accomplished black women. He used resources within himself that some people would never think of. To finance his children's education they each paid for the other, with the proceeds from their band. The band was called the Thornettes and later changed to the Thornton Sisters, they played for students at Princeton and various other Colleges.
Donald Thornton's six splits as family and friends affectionately called him and his girls went on to become more than what anyone expected of them. Betty became a nurse, Linda a dentist, Rita is the head of the science department in a private school, the author of The Ditchdigger's Daughters Yvonne, is an OB/GYN, Donna is a court stenographer and Jeanette has a doctorate in counseling psychology. Their story is not so much about what they have become but how they got there. The Ditchdigger's Daughters will astound and amaze you. You will think twice before you express what you cannot do in your personal life. The history in this book was wonderful and it was a quick read. Thornton Ladies, I am sure your mother is happy that her wish has come true, to have her family's story told in a book that is in the library. What a hidden treasure, The Ditchdigger's Daughter is a must read.
Missy
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By L. Hall on January 9, 2002
Format: Audio Cassette
OK, that word has already been used in response to this book--but there's a reason. I couldn't put this down, read it all in 2 days. Mr. and Mrs. Thornton prove that some people just have a natural genius for parenting--I sure wish there were more parents like that in the world. To them and their daughters: congratulations on lives well lived!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 2, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After seeing the television movie, I decided to read the book. The movie is fine, but it does not capture the true meaning of this fabulous book about overcoming obstacles and succeeding when every one says you can't. This book should be read by every middle school student and their parents. It is a great parenting book.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 18, 1997
Format: Audio Cassette
Judging by the fact I couldn't find any other reviews on this book, I'd have to say I'm the first. Here goes...This book was well written and gave a wonderful and equally inspiring account via a daughter of a black man whose dream/goal/fire and desire was to give his 5 daughters the things they needed to be successful black women in today's society. Gifts of love, attention, discipline, support,motivation, perseverance are things our black children need to today from their parents. Wonderful job!!! Truly inspirational!!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 21, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What a loving tribute to parents who usually never receive credit for their sacrifices in raising upstanding children. I had to write this review after reading another review (January 4, 2001) which was totally out in left field about this wonderful book and resilient author.
The scathing comments were from an attorney, so that explains her unnecessary and unwarranted attacks on Dr. Thornton. The other review totally missed the point, but lawyers usually do. I have two young daughters and I am thrilled to have them read this book and learn what it is like to rise above poverty and practice medicine. Maybe PhDs have obtained the highest degree in academia, but I can tell as one, I am always being told that I am "not a real doctor". But that doesn't bother me because I know if I am really ill, I don't want a PhD but rather an MD taking care of me. The book was FABULOUS and heartwarming and every American should read it.
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