A powerful, welcome addition to the Civil War library.

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A SLAVE NO MORE

TWO MEN WHO ESCAPED TO FREEDOM, INCLUDING THEIR OWN NARRATIVES OF EMANCIPATION

Two newly discovered narratives of slaves who escaped to freedom during the Civil War.

Blight (American History/Yale; Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory, 2001, etc.) tells the stories of John Washington and Wallace Turnage, whose manuscripts came to him after being preserved by members of their families. The two had little in common beyond their experiences as slaves and their eventual flights to Union lines where they were granted their liberty. Washington, light-skinned enough to pass for white when a boy, was born in northern Virginia in 1838. He took advantage of the arrival of federal troops in the vicinity of Fredericksburg, where he worked largely as a house servant, to escape. Turnage, born in Snow Hill, N.C., was sold to a cotton plantation in Alabama, where he worked under much harsher conditions than Washington. He made four unsuccessful attempts to escape before reaching Union lines near Mobile, then under siege by the U.S. Navy. Blight summarizes their stories, adding commentary on the time period and the institution of slavery as both men experienced it, making comparisons to other well-known slave narratives, such as that of Frederick Douglass. He then devotes a chapter to each of their post-slavery lives. The men spent their postwar lives in the North—Washington in the nation’s capital, where he worked as a sign painter, Turnage in New Jersey and New York City, where he worked as a waiter and janitor—and both lived into the World War I era. Toward the end of the book, Blight reproduces the two men’s narratives of their experiences as slaves—by far the most interesting section. Washington is the more polished writer, with a more conventional structure to his narrative. Turnage, however, went through a far more harrowing experience, both in his treatment by overseers and in his several breaks for freedom. Both are well worth reading.

A powerful, welcome addition to the Civil War library.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-15-101232-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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