Motherless Amantha "Manty" Starr grows up white in Kentucky in the mid-1800s. She is coddled by her father and adored by his slaves. Her father dies when she's a teen, and she discovers that her mother was a slave. Without her father to protect her, she is then sold into slavery herself in New Orleans. She has it pretty easy compared to most slaves. She marries a Union soldier she met during the Civil War and spends the next 25 years agonizing over her half-black identity. She passes for white, but blames every slight and setback on her being a "nigger." She's constantly worrying that she'll be found out, even though her husband already knows her secret. Her petulance and self-pity are out of proportion to her suffering. She never recovers from the sudden debasement after having grown up feeling superior as a white person. In truth, she's loved and accepted by both white and black communities, but she can never let herself feel like she belongs on either side of the color bar. In the end Manty understands that her continuing enslavement is a result of her perception, and only she can free herself.It took me a long time to get through this book. The writing is solid, but the story's progress is lethargic. I stayed with it only because I found All The King's Men so compelling. Band of Angels has value as an in-depth exploration of race and identity issues. I'm sure it had greater relevance in the South when it was published in 1955.