- Paperback: 704 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (February 22, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312253672
- ISBN-13: 978-0312253677
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.6 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 41 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,686,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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All on Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of Slavery Paperback – February 22, 2000
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Born in poverty, and self-educated while working in a print shop, William Lloyd Garrison was one of the United States' greatest crusading editors, putting out a weekly anti-slavery newspaper, The Liberator, for 35 years, beginning in 1831. A product of the rough and tumble political journalism of the day, Garrison wrote with extreme passion and from an uncompromising point of view. Yet the man who emerges from the pages of All on Fire is a deeply thoughtful person who, despite barely escaping lynch mobs himself, had a great sense of humor and a very polite demeanor. Historians have tended to minimize Garrison's impact on America, and some consider him a fringe character. But Henry Meyer, in this hefty biography, places Garrison at the center of his century, noting that Garrison's thought and tactics influenced not only the country's changing view of slavery, but also inspired the incipient feminist movement. The Lincoln administration noted Garrison's influence by inviting him to help raise the flag over the recaptured Fort Sumter. All on Fire goes into great detail on Garrison's life and work, providing the close and copious examination this activist's life fully deserves. --Robert McNamara --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Dead for almost 120 years, Garrison (1805-1879) tends to be caricatured in U.S. history books, if he's mentioned at all. That caricature shows a single-issue fanatic who had right on his side but possibly did more harm than good by agitating abolitionists and slavery advocates alike. Garrison was raised largely by his mother, a Baptist who marched "through life with 'high views' of its duties, and with the firmness of a Christian soldier." For her son, once roused by the Quaker Benjamin Lundy to the evils of slavery, there could be no compromise. There must be complete, immediate emancipation grounded in the U.S. Constitution. Anything less would cheapen human life and national dignity. Mayer's triumph is to show Garrison as a complicated human being, a fanatic to be sure, but one with a devoted family, a sense of humor and a brilliance of mind unexpected of one with so little formal education. Mayer, an independent historian living in Berkeley, Calif., and author of a biography of Patrick Henry (Son of Thunder), has done impressive research, especially in his use of Garrison's Boston-based newspaper, the Liberator, to explain its editor. The writing is first rate, and Mayer bucks contemporary trends by both his relentless adherence to chronology and his generous assessment of his subject. Few historians make the past more accessible than Mayer has.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
The book is very readable thanks to Mayer's considerable skill as a writer. Certain scenes are dramatic to the point where I felt they had come from a feature film and Mayer maintains a tension that is rare for a history book. Mayer also is careful to explain the 19th century world that Garrison lives in, so the book should be valuable to anyone curious about the era.
This is my favorite biography. It is readable enough for a layman and through enough for a scholar. Finally, it shows the life of a man that should be an held up as an example for all Americans and the world. If you have any interest in the subject the book is certainly worth the time and money.
The author admires Garrison, that is plain to see and by the time I was finished reading I admired him very much, too.
I enjoyed sitting down with this book over a span of several days. I was always eager to get back and see what Garrison was up to or what setbacks he was suffering.
Lots of history, lots of family love, lots to be proud of. A truly outstanding American character was William Lloyd Garrison.
--The author shows how the womens' sufferage movement arose from the antislavery movement;
--the author demonstrates at length the difficult relationship between the abolitionist movement and the Repbulican Party. This reminded me a bit of the 20th Century's ideological fights between Communists and Socialists.
--And he ties Garrison in with the tradition of witness and agitation found more famously in Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Finally, by tracing Garrison's life this biography explains how antislavery sentiment arose first in Quakers and evangelical Christians. It took years for them to get the "nice" people interested in abolition. The aspect of class in the North and abolition was new to me.
One of the best biographies I've read in a lifetime of reading biographies, Mayer's 'All on Fire' covers the full sweep of mid-Nineteenth Century American history from the perspective of an activist organizer and outsider rather than the centrist perspective we're used to. Ten years in the making, the book is detailed but not boring. Mayer is a great writer who allows us to see, and feel, the mounting crisis as Americans in the past Century saw and felt it.
I can't rate it high enough.
When he began his crusade, slavery was accepted, and most people thought it was here to stay. Garrsison was a voice crying in the dark. When he closed down The Liberator, slavery was over, and the vast majority of the country thought it was wrong.
Anyone who reads, anyone who fights for social justice, and certainly anyone who writes should read this book. It is hard to imagine anyone whose life reflects the axiom: "the pen is mightier than the sword" better than Garrison.