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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself Paperback – April 24, 2013


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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself + Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly: The Remarkable Story of the Friendship Between a First Lady and a Former Slave + Give Me Liberty!: An American History (Seagull Fourth Edition)  (Vol. 1)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Brown Books (April 24, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1613822928
  • ISBN-13: 978-1613822920
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Harriet Ann Jacobs (1813-1897) was an American writer, who escaped from slavery and became an abolitionist speaker and reformer. Jacobs' single work, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, published in 1861 under the pseudonym "Linda Brent", was one of the first autobiographical narratives about the struggle for freedom by female slaves and an account of the sexual harassment and abuse they endured. The narrative was designed to appeal to middle class white Christian women in the North, focusing on the impact of slavery on women's chastity and sexual virtues. Christian women could perceive how slavery was a temptation to masculine lusts and vice as well as to womanly virtues. Jacobs criticized the religion of the Southern United States as being un-Christian and as emphasizing the value of money ("If I am going to hell, bury my money with me," says a particularly brutal and uneducated slaveholder). She described another slaveholder with, "He boasted the name and standing of a Christian, though Satan never had a truer follower." Jacobs argued that these men were not exceptions to the general rule. Much of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl was devoted to the Jacobs's struggle to free her two children after she escaped. Before that, Harriet spent seven years hiding in a tiny space built into her grandmother's barn to see and hear the voices of her children. Jacobs changed the names of all characters in the novel, including her own, to conceal their true identities. The villainous slave owner "Dr. Flint" was based on Jacobs's former master, Dr. James Norcom. Despite the publisher's documents of authenticity, some critics attacked the narrative as based on false accounts. There was a reaction against the more horrific details of slave narratives, and some readers believed they could not be true.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 17 customer reviews
Devastating and compelling and so beautifully written.
Hoomie
I thought the author did such a good job and explained life of a slave.
KFJ
Great great great book written by a slave in early history.
nick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Donna Di Giacomo VINE VOICE on September 27, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
that slavery was such an integral part of the creation of the United States (even being protected by the Constitution for 20 years as a concession to the slave states - just so they would join the Union). Yeah, yeah, other civilizations had slaves, but Rome's heyday was almost 2,000 years before anyone knew or cared about land on this side of the globe. (Portugal, Spain, and England would take encyclopedias just to scratch the surface of and were the ones who ran with the idea that Africa was ripe for using human beings as cattle, with just a "little" help from the local tribal chiefs). So much for "progress" and learning from the past.

It's obvious that Harriet Jacobs did a very brave thing for her time and did a major favor for us here in the future: She not only told her story (like other former slaves) in order to put an end to the sin of slavery, but she gave detail to the suffering and humiliation slaves had to face every single day of their lives. She added another angle with her account of the sexual harassment she had to face from Dr. Norcum almost daily, and she wrote about other female slaves who had to endure his advances - and then be sold away when they bore his children.

It wasn't bad enough for female slaves to be subjected to sexual advances at such a young age by their masters/owners, but adding insult to injury was that they had to deal with the jealousy of their mistress (as if it was their fault their husbands were pigs). And, to add further stress, was the constant threat that their children (whether legitimate or illegitimate) could be sold at any time.

This whole book was an eye-opener for me, but one of the many parts that I found fascinating was when Harriet came to Philadelphia and heard church bells the first time here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marsha N. Liles on September 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
Years ago I ran across two pages of this book while doing internet research for my novel Flint House. What a gift Ms. Jacob's and her story gave me. A few years after my book was published I discovered the writing I saw in 2001 were actually from a book written by a brave woman born a slave. As a child she was treated with kindness. Around the age of five her mother died, and Harriet Ann Jacobs learned the dark side of being an owned human. This book is not horrific in the sense that it causes hatred, but more a lesson on what it was really like in a time few of us - black or white -- can possibly identify with. One of the main characters in Flint House is loosly modeled after Harriet Ann Jacobs' first years of life. Flint House tells of a little slave girl named Harriet Ann who dies at the age of five. If you've read Flint House, please read this book. And if you read Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself, please read Flint House.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hoomie on September 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
Devastating and compelling and so beautifully written. This is one of those few books that I will label as 'must read.' Everyone should read this woman's story and try to understand the horrors of slavery. (The greatest horror being that slavery is far from over - it evolved into Jim Crow, and we see it ravaging communities today in the form of voter ID laws, stop and frisks, and incarceration rates, among many other things.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By melody0828 on March 28, 2013
Format: Paperback
This beautifully written account of life as a slave totally changed my shallow thinking about the hardships endured by American slaves. It also uncovered some very ugly truths about early white Americans. Every American should read this book. Perhaps we would become more compassionate towards others.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sid Dowell on March 15, 2013
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Jacobs lends some powerful insights to the hardships of slaves and especially female slaves but in light of similar testimonials of other slaves and the circumstances and patronage under which she presented her story, I interpret some of her encounters as sensationalism for effect.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By nick on October 1, 2012
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Great great great book written by a slave in early history. I will say every one should read it so they can feel what in early history slaves felt.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dyon J. Foster on February 15, 2013
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The book was emotionally draining and a tough read. But it should be read by everyone living in America, not just students.
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This account of the life of a slave girl was honest and in formative so i gave it a 4 star rating and i would reccommend this book to everyone.
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