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All God's Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw Paperback – May 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 600 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (May 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226727742
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226727745
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Somewhere along the line, people stopped talking about it. Friends of mine who talk about nothing except Southern literature have barely heard of the book. I pounced on it after I discovered that Richard Howorth, the well-read owner of Square Books, the independent bookstore in Oxford, Miss., utters its title aloud every time a customer asks the question, 'What one book would you say best explains the South?' I wish I could say that, this early spring, I read All God’s Dangers in one sitting. It’s not that kind of book. It’s a meandering thing; its pleasures are intense but cumulative. This book rolls. But it is superb—both serious history and a serious pleasure, a story that reads as if Huddie Ledbetter spoke it while W. E. B. Du Bois took dictation. That it’s been largely forgotten is bad for it, but worse for us. . . . All God’s Dangers  . . . deserves a place in the front rank of American autobiographies. There are many reasons, in 2014, to attend to Ned Cobb’s [Nate Shaw’s] story.”
(Dwight Garner New York Times)

“There are only a few American autobiographies of surpassing greatness. . . . Now there is another one, Nate Shaw’s.”
(New York Times)

“Extraordinarily rich and compelling . . . possesses the same luminous power we associate with Faulkner.”
(Robert Coles Washington Post Book World)

“Eloquent and revelatory. . . . This is an anthem to human endurance.”
(Studs Terkel New Republic)

“The authentic voice of a warm, brave, and decent individual. . . . A pleasure to read. . . . Shaw’s observations on the life and people around him, clothed in wonderfully expressive language, are fresh and clear.”
(H.W. Bragdon Christian Science Monitor)

“Astonishing . . . Nate Shaw was a formidable bearer of memories. . . . Miraculously, this man’s wrenching tale sings of life’s pleasures: honest work, the rhythm of the seasons, the love of relatives and friends, the stubborn persistence of hope when it should have vanished . . . All God’s Dangers is most valuable for its picture of pure courage.”
(Paul Grey Time)

“A triumph of ideas and historical content as well of expression and style.”
(Randall Jarrell Harvard Educational Review)

“Tremendous . . . a testimony of human nobility . . . the record of a heroic man with a phenomenal memory and a life experience of a kind of seldom set down in print. . . . a person of extraordinary stature, industrious, brave, prudent, and magnanimous. . . . One emerges from these hundred of pages wiser, sadder, and better because of them. A unique triumph!”
(Alfred C. Ames Chicago Tribune Book World)

“Awesome and powerful . . . A living history of nearly a century of cataclysmic change in the life of the Southerner, both black and white . . . Nate Shaw spans our history from slavery to Selma, and he can evoke each age with an accuracy and poignancy so pure that we stand amazed.”
(Baltimore Sun)

From the Publisher

"Extraordinarily rich and compelling."--The Washington Post --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

If you want to really know about mules, Ned's the man.
Chimonsho
Heartwrenching and realistic book simply told for white folks and black folks.
Millie Lytle
This is one of the best books I have ever read... I didn't want it to end.
Doctor Jean ND

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Chimonsho on February 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a timeless classic, and not just among memoirs, because the subject was a great American---a man who "had no get-back in him." Nate Shaw (real name Ned Cobb) had an amazing memory, and also an acute understanding of the post-Civil War rural South. The rhythm of the seasons, work routines, knowledge of livestock, nature and people too, combine for a profound view of a vanished America. (If you want to really know about mules, Ned's the man.) But Ned didn't just observe, he worked with the Alabama Sharecroppers' Union and defended powerless friends, serving 12 years in prison after being shot for his pains. This activism sets him apart from Kas Maine, a South African sharecropper to whom he's been compared in recent years. The earthy dialect wears out some readers, but otherwise "All God's Dangers" is compelling from start to end. Writers from Wendell Berry to Pete Daniel praise both man and book, while John Beecher's "In Egypt Land" is a moving poetic rendition of Ned's story. R. Kelley, "Hammer & Hoe" vividly recreates 1930s Alabama; on Kas Maine, see C. Van Onselen, "The Seed Is Mine." But Ned tells about his world far better than the others. In living, then narrating, a life of great struggle lived with great dignity, Ned Cobb performed a signal service---for all of us. We are in your debt!
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Daniel A. Stone on January 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
In the middle of Rosengarten's book, truly a masterpiece of oral history memoir making, Nate Shaw says "all God's dangers ain't a white man." This would seem truly a remarkable thing for a black man who spent over a decade in an Alabama prison to say, but as a farmer growing cotton in Alabama during the first half of the twentieth century it quickly makes sense once he explains it. Shaw's story of his chaffing under his good for nothing father's roof; his growing prosperity as share cropper and than as a yeoman farmer; his hucksterism when dealing with violent and hostile whites attempting to cheat him; the defense of fellow small farmers that got him thrown in jail during the Great Depression; and his takes on the science of farming, race relations, the American class system and his own life experiences show Shaw to be a master story teller and Rosengarten and master interviewer. The combination of these two was absolute dynamite.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
it is not often that you can receive such an in depth and personal account of life in the south "post-slavery". even though slavery had been abolished and the south was supposed to be in reformation, nate shaw's true-life account shows how the effects of slavery (on both sides) were lasting and not easily forgotten. Shaw's extremely detailed account helps those of us who were not living in that time and place to get a real understanding of how this country was formed, and will hopefully open your eyes to the unnecessary and hideous reasons people have for discrimination.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Dwight L. Wilson on January 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
Nate Shaw was the father of my Uncle Oscar Turner's best friend. His real name was Nate Cobb and the family of the son, Lorraine, is prominent in the Middletown, Ohio ghetto.
The author has done a masterful job of illustrating how greatness was thrust upon him. Nate never set out to become a hero, only to protect his own dignity and provide for his children.
I do not believe that there is a better book for teaching about the lies of 20th century sharecroppers. Theirs is an overlooked legacy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Hannah Mae on November 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
STRENGTH
What an amazing story of a smart, strong creative and uneducated sharecropper, who raised a bright and productive family. Ted basically recorded all of Ned's words from hours of listening to him. It is an inspiring story of hope and determination.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jack Cade on December 2, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not much to say really--a great book about a very great man. For those who think the struggle for racial equality began in 1954 this book will widden their historical hisorical horizons. But what it shows to me above all are the heroic possibilities of ordinary people in the US "Nate Shaw" or others like Hosea Hudson and later Fannie Lou Hamer--I wish somehow people in other parts of the world could read this book because they would realize there is a hidden America, an America not represented by our dreary and belicose politicians or our narcotic talking heads or worse our "official" historians" I can think of very few other books about American history that EVERONE MUST READ.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By FicktionPhotography on April 4, 2013
Format: Paperback
Theodore Rosengarten stumbled upon Nate Shaw, by chance, when Nate Shaw was 85 years old and living in his home and only state of Alabama. Although Nate, his real name being Ned Cobb, could not read or write, his memory for his eight and a half decades on this earth was impeccable. Mr. Rosengarten sat down with him on several occasions and recorded his life and made an autobiography out of his story. That story is contained in the 600 pages of All God's Dangers.

Nate Shaw lived during the time after slavery, during segregation, and was a prominent supporter of the Sharecroppers Union (SCU). Because of his simple yet dignified stance in life, he was thrown in jail for almost two decades of his life for simply being a black man and standing up for what he believed was his god given right: to protect and keep that which was rightfully his. Contained within the book is anecdotal stories about how the dynamic between the whites and black lived in the south and how they were treated in respect to one another. It also showed how, despite the elimination of slavery, the blacks were kept down and were unable to rise past their "station" in life. For that reason, Nate Shaw's life and autobiography is invaluable. It shows us a window into the past, in one section of our vast country, during a period of time where humans were created equal, but were not treated so.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, the story is long-winded and can be incredibly boring. Like most lives, Nate's isn't exactly chock full of high drama and excitement. Nothing against him or against Rosengarten who, undoubtedly, found every word Nate uttered fascinating as he got to know him. It's about three hundred pages too long and Nate's reciprocal nature of story telling takes up a lot of room.
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