- File Size: 21505 KB
- Print Length: 289 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Press (June 20, 2017)
- Publication Date: June 20, 2017
- Sold by: Macmillan
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01MQPKCT4
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #268,557 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Be Free or Die: The Amazing Story of Robert Smalls' Escape from Slavery to Union Hero Kindle Edition
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|Length: 289 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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About the Author
JD Jackson is a theater professor, aspiring stage director, and award-winning audiobook narrator. A classically trained actor, his television and film credits include roles on House, ER, and Law & Order. JD was named one of AudioFile magazine's Best Voices of the Year for 2012 and 2013. --This text refers to the audioCD edition.
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That isn't to say that there aren't redeeming qualities for the book. There more certainly are. She covers life on the Sea Islands and Beaufort, South Carolina during the Civil War pretty well. In fact, her writing about life in Beaumont during that era is more impressive than her writing about Smalls.
It isn't that the material isn't there. In the acknowledgements, she lists a lot of sources. Unfortunately, a vast majority of those sources are local historical sources when Smalls is a national figure. There is a lot more material that would have been of tremendous value if she would have just gone beyond regional borders, other than newspapers that she can find online.
What this book lacks is a clear and concise focus. Is the escape from slavery the focus? Is Charleston and Beaumont, S.C. during the Civil War the focus? Is the history of slavery in South Carlina during the Civil War the focus? I'm not sure because the book encompasses parts of the above three questions, but none of those areas seems to be covered comprehensively enough, which made it more for a confusing read.
Also, the book ends pretty abruptly after the return of Fort Sumter in 1865 as if the author was just tired of writing it. Yet Smalls had an impressive post-war career that is only touched on briefly in the epilogue.
Furthermore, there are many instances where the author was speculating when more research could have given a more definitive answer. There were too many instances of the words "may," "probably," "might," or "could," when a more declarative statement could have been made. The speculation took away from what "could" have been, or "may" have been, a good read.
Lastly, Lineberry is to be commended for making a valiant attempt at telling Smalls's story, difficult as it may have been. There is enough information here that should not dissuade somebody from picking it up as long as they have realistic expectations. This is not the be-all and end-all biography on the life of Robert Smalls. That book, unfortunately, has not been written yet.