Top positive review
13 of 13 people found this helpful
it was phenominal
on April 8, 1999
1968 School Library Journal Best Book of the Year In an intensely personal new introduction written for this thirtieth anniversary edition, Julius Lester states that at age ten, when his father told him his family's history went back to a bill of sale and no further, the words were one of the defining moments of my life. Approximately fifteen years later he began compiling the words of ex-slaves--a good portion of which had never been previously published--and establishing the structure for To Be a Slave. The ease and speed with which this structure came made him realize that this book was one of the things [he] had been put on earth to do. In an equally eloquent, new introductory note Tom Feelings expresses a similar sentiment regarding the personal impact of his work for To Be a Slave and his belief in doing work that mov[es] us so emotionally, it makes all of us feel its truth way down deep inside. For thirty years American readers of all ages and walks of life have been affected by the truth of To Be a Slave, which remains one of the few works to present what it felt like to be slave in America in the words of black men and women who lived it rather than filtered through the eyes of others. Paired with Mr. Lester's historical commentary and powerful and soulful paintings by Mr. Feelings, To Be a Slave makes the clear and moving distinction between the generalizations made about slaves and what the emotional reality was for human beings [whose] condition was slavery. I am grateful to the parents, teachers, librarians, and booksellers who have found [To Be a Slave] to be of value. Most of all I am grateful to all those who have read it, to all those who read it. History is not just facts and events. History is also a pain in the heart, and we repeat history until we are able to make another's pain in the heart our own. -- Julius Lester The truth can stretch children's minds, stimulate their imaginations in a creative way, and strengthen their spirits.