Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom (英語) ペーパーバック – 2005/1/5
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"A thrilling reading experience. It expands outward from Tubman's individual story to give a sweeping, historical vision of slavery."―NPR's Fresh Air
"Clinton's well-researched book reveals Harriet Tubman to be even more remarkable than her legend."―Liza Featherstone, Newsday
"Superior. Clinton wisely keeps the focus on Tubman and her remarkable life...This compelling biography brings alive the passion of those tormented times."―Deirdre Donahue, USA Today
"A lucid, well-researched biography that contextualizes a remarkable life in all its remarkable accomplishment."―Darryl Lorenzo Wellington, Christian Science Monitor
"Reads more like an adventure tale than a history lesson...This biography provides an in-depth look at Harriet Tubman and holds moments of wonder for readers."―Bernadette Adams Davis, BookPage
Catherine Clinton received an undergraduate degree in Afro-American Studies from Harvard University and a PhD in history from Princeton. She has taught at Harvard, Brandeis, Brown, and Wesleyan, and is the author of more than fifteen books. She lives in Connecticut.
In addition to telling Harriet’s tale the book also does a great job of placing it in proper historical context. The author also sets straight a number of misconceptions in the period, especially concerning her actions in the Union Army.
Finally, the book ends with setting straight the record concerning her mistreatment by the US government, both as an African American and a woman. There is not enough restorative justice we can give her, but we can certainly start by jettisoning the racist Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill and putting her image on it!
I saw the movie ‘Harriet,’ and was quite disappointed--And that was before I knew they had wanted to cast Julia Roberts! Although it’s always good that people see dramatic showings of the courage of such figures, she was much more than what was shown.
[I have to disagree with Catherine Clinton on calling Delaware a “free state.” Although slavery had dwindled in Delaware through private arrangements of “freedom” in stages, there were still slaves throughout the Civil War (although an ever-smaller number) There were active abolitionists there as well].
I can say one thing about prophetic abilities: Those who believe they have them and others who believe they have them tend to remember the few times their “predictions” were correct and forget the many times they were wrong. The same goes for the efficacy of prayer. I don’t doubt that Tubman was sincere in her beliefs—she was illiterate, and many people with education in science nevertheless still believe similar things.
After meeting John Brown, Tubman started public speaking, although not using her real name. Unfortunately, we don’t have any of her speeches, but we have bits of dialog from various memoires, which obviously isn’t exact, but is a lot more accurate than anecdotes. Certainly, people like William Seward, John Brown, Frederick Douglass and Thomas Wentworth Higginson are reliable.
With Tubman’s success with herbal medicine, again, all we have is anecdotal evidence. No doubt she was useful as a nurse regardless.
To me, the Underground Railroad served many useful purposes: It gathered a cadre of activists willing to break the law; it kept abolitionists of the fracturing organizations working together--this was one thing they all agreed on; it freed slaves who could tell their stories by speaking, by telling them to abolitionist biographers, or in a few cases writing them themselves. It could never have freed all the slaves, nor could John Brown have even if his plan had been better thought out.
It took war, and it's to Tubman's credit that she did everything she could to advance it.
On the Underground Railroad, the best book I've read is Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad. On the Civil War, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, on Reconstruction, back to Eric Foner (although without W.E.B. Du Bois' 'Black Reconstruction,' it might not have been possible) with Reconstruction Updated Edition: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 (Harper Perennial Modern Classics).
There are a huge number of books on the Second American Revolution that are worth reading, but don't miss The Civil War in the United States and Racism, Revolution, Reaction, 1861-1877: The Rise and Fall of Radical Reconstruction.
I knew a little about her, primarily due to articles written when the Treasury announced it would put her on the $20 and decided to learn more about her.
If her life was fiction, it would probably have to be toned down b/c it would be unbelievable.
Tubman is a fascinating and certainly heroic individual. Clinton manages to do a good job creating a highly readable book despite frequent admissions that there is an awful lot that we don't know, due in part to the fact that Tubman remained illiterate her entire life.
At the same time, Clinton seems a bit starstruck by her subject. I was curious enough about some of the material to research bits of it elsewhere and found that less flattering material (which Clinton had to have been aware of) was either played down or left out. Nothing big but it seemed she didn't want to write a single word that wasn't completely positive, and it was enough to leave me questioning the accuracy of the book.
Still a good book and Tubman was clearly a person we should know more about.