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Anthony Burns: The Defeat and Triumph of a Fugitive Slave (Laurel-leaf books) Mass Market Paperback – January 4, 1993


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Anthony Burns: The Defeat and Triumph of a Fugitive Slave (Laurel-leaf books) + To Kill a Mockingbird
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Series: Laurel-leaf books
  • Mass Market Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Laurel Leaf; Reprint edition (January 4, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679839976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679839972
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,093,134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This riveting, much lauded historical chronicle concerns a Virginia slave's aborted flight to freedom--and subsequent trial; PW said, "This moving story becomes all the more scathing and rich for being rooted in truth." All ages.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Moving and unforgettable." -- School Library Journal, Starred

"Beautifully written . . . a riveting reality tale whose legacy, even now, is not finished." -- The New York Times Book Review

More About the Author

Virginia Esther Hamilton was born, as she said, "on the outer edge of the Great Depression," on March 12, 1934. The youngest of five children of Kenneth James and Etta Belle Perry Hamilton, Virginia grew up amid a large extended family in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The farmlands of southwestern Ohio had been home to her mother's family since the late 1850s, when Virginia's grandfather, Levi Perry, was brought into the state as an infant via the Underground Railroad.

Virginia graduated at the top of her high-school class and received a full scholarship to Antioch College in Yellow Springs. In 1956, she transferred to the Ohio State University in Columbus and majored in literature and creative writing. She moved to New York City in 1958, working as a museum receptionist, cost accountant, and nightclub singer, while she pursued her dream of being a published writer. She studied fiction writing at the New School for Social Research under Hiram Haydn, one of the founders of Atheneum Press.

It was also in New York that Virginia met poet Arnold Adoff. They were married in 1960. Arnold worked as a teacher, and Virginia was able to devote her full attention to writing, at least until daughter Leigh was born in 1963 and son Jaime in 1967. In 1969, Virginia and Arnold built their "dream home" in Yellow Springs, on the last remaining acres of the old Hamilton/Perry family farm, and settled into a life of serious literary work and achievement.

In her lifetime, Virginia wrote and published 41 books in multiple genres that spanned picture books and folktales, mysteries and science fiction, realistic novels and biography. Woven into her books is a deep concern with memory, tradition, and generational legacy, especially as they helped define the lives of African Americans. Virginia described her work as "Liberation Literature." She won every major award in youth literature.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 7, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
My students just finished reading this story set in 1854 Boston as yet another cause of the Civil War; the Fugitive Slave Act part of the Compromise of 1850. Prior to this we have studied Congress's efforts at keeping the Senate balanced with an equal number of slave and free states, slave revolts and slave codes, abolitionists, and the country's ambivalence about "the peculiar institution."
The story of Anthony Burns personalizes slavery for this generation in the way Uncle Tom's Cabin exposed the evils of slavery in 1851-1852. Students are outraged at the treatment of slaves as property, by the "dark side" of human nature that chooses to humiliate and degrade Anthony in the name of the law of the land even though Anthony's owner and captors have opportunities to sell him to those who would free him. The Fugitive Slave law is used against Anthony, yet the Fugitive Slave law is broken by the very people enforcing it.
Recently I heard the argument again that the Civil War was not about slavery but about states' rights, the right of people to live the way they were used to. I urge people with this belief to consider trading places with a slave such as Anthony Burns; to have your mother be a breeder of more slaves; to be leased out to whomever and your wages go to your owner; to be forced to believe this is the way things are and always should be.
Following reading Anthony Burns, we are reenacting the trial of Simeon Bushnell, a resident of Oberlin, Ohio, accused of helping a runaway slave escape as described in the book The Town that Started the Civil War. Then we will be ready to study the Civil War itself.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Alyssa A. Lappen TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 25, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This 1993 non-fiction biography addresses slavery in the U.S., through the spell-binding story of Anthony Burns, who was captured and tried in 1854 Boston as a fugitive slave. Chapters alternate between 1854 and the 1840s, when Burns spent his boyhood and youth as the slave of Virginia plantation-owner Charles Suttle. In 35 children's books, the late Virginia Hamilton (1936-2002) frequently focused on themes of slavery and inequality.

No dry or fictional account, this riveting read-aloud elucidates 19th century heroism culminating in a dramatic denouement before Burns' untimely death at 28 in Canada on July 27, 1862. The epilogue covers repercussions to Boston abolitionists and others who helped him.

The book initiates fine in-class discussions of current-day slavery and abolitionists at Christian Solidarity International, iAbolish (the American anti-Slavery Group) and other groups who seek to end the practice, forever.

The story opens with Burns' Boston abduction. His flashbacks transport readers to his early years in Virginia; these crescendo in his flight from slavery and trial. Hamilton sets historical figures in context and invigorates their fiery sermons, posters and political gatherings with life. She fleshes out the details of Burns' life, from his point of view. He experiences hardships but dares to hope. His story includes suspense and drama that gets children's attention.

Burns suffered horribly. For example, he was once confined for four months to a slave jail in North Carolina, his arms and legs always shackled. In solitary confinement with inadequate hygiene and food, he became seriously ill. Still, Anthony Burns went on to achieve great things.

The book infuses children with the indignation of the abolitionists here portrayed.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 24, 2003
Format: School & Library Binding
I read this book with my 8th grade English students, and althouth the pace is not at lightening speed, they enjoy it in conjunction with supplemental activities on Black History, true stories of slaves, debates, art activities, and acting out various scenes from the book. We discuss the relationship of Anthony and his white father, the common occurence of slave masters fathering children with their slaves, the lose-lose situations of overseers, the value of freedom versus the unknown of being thrust into a society which does not at all embrace you, the definitions, dangers, and occasional irony of abolitionists, whether or not Anthony is guilty of that with which he is charged, and what he is REALLY on trial for. After we finish reading the book, I bring in 2 lawyers (these can be parents of the children) and get them to help the kids break up into the prosecution and the defense, prepare for a trial, and then we put on the trial the next day. This is a wonderful way to wrap up the book, and the kids take it very seriously.
The book itself is not too graphic in nature (as are many slave accounts because they are true), but it does tell an effective story on which one can easily elaborate in class.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
My overall view of this book, Anthony Burns, is that it is very slow. It was a good story about freedom and rights, but it could have been fifty-pages shorter. During the last four chapters it talked about Anthony and his court trial. Every chapter seemed the same which lost my interest quickly. I also think the book had to many characters. I could never keep track of which person the author was talking about. I think Anthony Burns' story is a good one, but I don't think it was written very well. For example, every chapter was a different season and it would skip years. Anthony Burns had a very inspiring life, fighting for freedom and being traded from master to master; however, the overall story was just not very interesting. My opinion of this book is that it is a good book about a man's fight for freedom, but it was too slow and slightly confusing. I think this book would appeal more to adults or history teachers.
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