SUSIE KING TAYLOR, CIVIL WAR NURSE by Simeon Booker

SUSIE KING TAYLOR, CIVIL WAR NURSE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The facts are these: a fifteen-year-old slave girl, educated surreptitiously in Savannah through the efforts of her grandmother, escaped in 1862 to black-held St. Simon's Island where she taught children and adults; when the fugitives were absorbed into the first black Union Army unit, she went along as laundress, then became, through her ability to inspire and minster to the sick, the first Negro army nurse. Unable to continue teaching or nursing in the post-war South, she moved to Boston, there to live obscurely as a domestic notwithstanding the publication, in 1902, of her Reminiscences of My Life in Camp. The quotes included here attest to her keen awareness of inequities and indignities; this aspect, plus a sense of mission, emerges too from the words of regimental commander Colonel Higginson. But, as the author acknowledges, her book is far from a full record, and much of this concerns Susie Taylor less than the events surrounding her; there are few personal incidents and for long stretches she remains in the shadows. Moreover, the author tends to pontificate, often in the current ideological idiom (of Susie's grandmother: ""She was not only a businesswoman she was a freedom fighter""). In contrast, her Reminiscences, now reprinted by Arno, are direct and vivid; since they are also brief, there's no reason why most youngsters shouldn't read the original rather than this bloated, occasionally fictionalized paraphrase. (Re the series: like the far better Thurgood Marshall [509, J-203], this has the appeal of an undemanding text in an unimposing format; it is also, however, a cheaply produced book at a relatively high price.)

Pub Date: Aug. 4th, 1969
Publisher: McGraw-Hill