Subtitled ""The Story of the Underground Railroad,"" this is a compassionate and clear-eyed history of slavery and the brave people who rose up against it. Through conscientious research, Gorrell traces slavery's origins as far back as ancient Egypt and Greece, showing just how deplorable the policies of the US were: In ancient societies, slaves were eventually permitted to buy their freedom, after paying off debts, but in this country, the dark color of Africans was used as ""proof"" of their ""natural inferiority."" Students who take democratic liberties for granted will gain a more immediate, emotional sense of slavery's horrors from the brief first-person introductions in each chapter. Throughout, Gorrell intelligently explains the economic realities of slavery and its role in the rise of the southern states' aristocracy; she shows how this issue essentially divided the country for years, making armed conflict inevitable. The chapters on the Underground Railroad are full of intriguing facts about secret hiding places and codes, but most riveting of all are the true stories of slaves who escaped their captors: Henry ""Box"" Brown, who shipped himself in a crate to free Philadelphia; William and Ellen Craft, a married pair of slaves who disguised themselves as a male slave and his rich male owner and traveled to freedom. With numerous black-and-white photos and period line drawings, this is an indispensable and inspirational tool in any classroom.