A Slave No More, by David W. Blight

We here at Wordcandy usually choose our books based on purely hedonistic impulses, but we have been known—very occasionally—to pick up the odd “improving” book. We frequently regret this impulse, but once in a great while we find ourselves reading something that's interesting, educational, and genuinely moving. Such was the case with David W. Blight’s A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Own Narratives of Emancipation. Blight’s book features two previously undiscovered “slave narratives”. These (unconnected) first-person accounts were written by John M. Washington and Wallace Turnage, two men who escaped from slavery during the Civil War.

Both Turnage and Washington's memoirs were passed down through friends and family, and only recently came to light. Although there is no evidence they ever met, Turnage and Washington had some experiences in common: both were literate, ambitious, and intelligent, and the sons of enslaved mothers and white fathers. Wallace Turnage was a teenage field hand on an Alabama plantation, and escaped slavery only after suffering the consequences of four previous attempts, while John M. Washington was a young urban slave in Virginia, who fled to the Union army in 1862. Both married, had children, and ended their lives in the North.

Blight prefaces Turnage and Washington's accounts with a lengthy introductory essay—one that frames their stories and offers an intriguing, nuanced picture of the difficulties faced by slaves during and after the Civil War. While Turner and Washington's extraordinary personal narratives are obviously the star attractions of A Slave No More, the book would be worth reading for Blight's excellent, informative, thoroughly researched introduction alone.
Posted by: Julianka


10 Jan, 2008 07:35 PM @ version 0

This is a must for all Civil War buffs.

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