A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Own Narratives of Emancipation

David W. Blight, Author . Harcourt $25 (307p) ISBN 978-0-15-101232-9

Three fascinating works are packaged here: two unpublished manuscripts by former slaves Wallace Turnage (1846–1916) and John Washington (1838–1918), and an illuminating analysis of them by award-winning historian Blight. Turnage's journal (“a sketch of my life or adventures and persecutions which I went through from 1860 to 1865”) is about his attempted escapes and their dire consequences: from his first, when he “didn't know where to go,” to his successful “fifth and last runaway.” His account is particularly noteworthy in its revelation of the slave and free-black networks he found and utilized. Washington's “Memorys of the Past” moves from his “most pleasant” early childhood through “the many trials of slavery” and the disruptions of the Civil War, ending with his successful escape in 1862. As Blight observes, it's “very much a coming of age story,” offering a unique window on life (learning to read, falling in love, finding religious faith) in a slave society. Blight provides an accessible historical and literary context for the manuscripts and explores, as fully as possible, the men's lives not covered in their manuscripts (both are self-emancipated). These powerful memoirs reveal poignant, heroic, painful and inspiring lives. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 08/20/2007
Release date: 11/01/2007
Compact Disc - 5 pages - 978-0-7393-1951-2
Paperback - 315 pages - 978-0-15-603451-7
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