- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Beacon Press (February 1, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 080705514X
- ISBN-13: 978-0807055144
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,363,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Epic Journeys of Freedom: Runaway Slaves of the American Revolution and Their Global Quest for Liberty Hardcover – February 1, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
During the Revolutionary War, thousands of black slaves served with, and sought refuge from, the British forces in hope of attaining freedom—among them escapees from the plantations of George Washington and Patrick Henry. Australian historian Pybus follows the path some of these former slaves took to London and then "into two bizarre colonial experiments that began in 1787: the Province of Freedom in Sierra Leone on the west coast of Africa, and the penal settlement of Botany Bay on the east coast of Australia." Readers familiar with the American perspective (the escape North, the Liberian settlement) will experience a kaleidoscopic shift through the lens of British history. Pybus's prose is weighted by her "diligent excavation in vast Revolutionary-era archival materials, both American and British." But the ships' logs, muster lists and parish records as well as the newspapers, memoirs and journals she's ploughed through in her successful attempt "to recover the lives of individuals" constitute a significant contribution to contemporary studies of the Black Atlantic. Dauntingly full of minutiae, Pybus's text is made more accessible to the ordinary reader through a biographical appendix that provides brief sketches of the "significant black refugees." (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In the midst of the American Revolution when the nation's powerful were considering the fate of the fledgling U.S., scores of those who were their slaves were also taking action to guarantee their freedom. The choice they made to side with the British set many former slaves on an eventual diaspora to Britain, Canada, Australia, and West Africa. Historian Pybus traces the paths of several former slaves, including those of George Washington, as they fled America for freedom, and she profiles famous and lesser-known figures who fought for freedom for enslaved blacks during the American Revolution. Pybus also offers a rare look at how the former slaves were received in London and how they fared in the two colonies set aside by the British for them in Sierra Leone, Africa, and Botany Bay, Australia. Along with detailing the personal challenges facing these former slaves and showing how they managed, while enslaved, to forge ideals of individual freedom, Pybus demonstrates that the Civil War and the civil rights movement have roots in the American Revolution. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
Epic Journeys of Freedom recounts the tribulations of Runaway Slaves during the American War of Independence. It opens the door to a whole movement of slaves who jumped at the chance at collaborating with the British "loyalists" in exchange for their freedom - and out of pure hatred at their American slave-holding revolutionaries.
The likes of George Washington and Co. are portrayed for what their are: inspired ideologues with a sinister background of slave brutality. That they could talk about the rights of man while pleasantly looking at the suffering and torturing of their slaves (Washington personally saw to the punishment in quite sadistic ways of any slave attempting to flee) shows the inherent hypocrisy of the times.
The journeys of these runaway slaves, nonetheless, was but a straight one. They were used and exploited in their quest for a self-made free life, and would end up shipped to the furthers corners of the Earth - to Nova Scotia in Canada, to Australia, to Sierra Leone. The experiences they all endured are touching, moving, gripping. I simply could not put the book down, and i must confess that my eyes were watering quite often.
I cannot do justice to any of the individual stories in "Epic Journeys of Freedom" in this or any review, and much of the immediacy and drama of the stories come from the first-hand sources of the era that Pybus has collected and orchestrated into compelling narratives. By retelling the history of individual lives set within the context of the American Revolution and its aftermath, Pybus reduces a mythic, seminal event in America's founding to a personal level. The eyes through which we see the Revolution, however, belong not to the victors, but to the disenfranchised and dehumanized; America's victory meant their enslavement, so they fled the land of liberty to seek their own freedom across distant borders and oceans.
Some may ask why bring up more stories of America's past injustices when we have come so far in addressing them. We read these stories and remember their lives because they remind us why men and women have risked all and died for their freedom. They remind us of both our worse and better natures, and offer hope for a more just and free world.