BREAKING THE CHAINS: African-American Slave Resistance by William Loren Katz

BREAKING THE CHAINS: African-American Slave Resistance

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Using documented evidence from slaves and former slaves, Katz contradicts the oft-repeated contention that African-Americans were satisfied with their lot and did little to free themselves. The European slave trade began the day Columbus landed. Though evidence was often suppressed, the tradition of resistance can claim equal antiquity, as Katz has shown briefly in other books, notably Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage (1986). Here, using primary sources and direct quotes, he not only describes in detail the violent rebellions--Nat Turner's, Gabriel Prosser's, Denmark Vesey's, the 150-some that happened at sea--but also explores quieter methods of resistance and escape; how black slaves presented deceptively content faces while using family ties, religion, coded folk-tales and a sense of community to keep the hope of freedom alive. He shows that strong family values and education were prized, then describes the role black men and women played in the skilled trades, in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and in the Abolition movement. As usual, the author's narrative is clear, even-toned, logically structured, and neither dry nor lurid. A significant contribution to American history. Bibliography; index; illustrated with historical photos, engravings, etc.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1990
Page count: 194pp
Publisher: Atheneum