There’s no shame in admitting that you might have slept through a few days of American history class in high school. Most history textbooks are so dry the only interesting thing that could emerge from them would be a sudden self-combustion in the middle of class. Thank goodness, then, for writers who thoroughly immerse themselves in the past and vibrantly animate it for modern readers. The books in today’s list bring the past vividly to life and give us a second chance to recall what we couldn’t wait to forget all those years ago in high school.
RUNAWAY SLAVES: REBELS ON THE PLANTATION, 1790--1860
"A well-crafted and carefully researched account that opens a new window onto a dark and painful chapter in American history."
In a searing indictment of plantation life in the antebellum South, noted historian Franklin (professor emeritus at Duke Univ.) and Schweninger (History/Univ. of North Carolina, Greensboro) use primary documents such as court records, newspapers, and letters of contemporaries, including slaves themselves, to show that slaves often resisted their condition by means direct and indirect, and frequently to the point of running away. Read full book review >