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Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom Paperback – January 5, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Clinton has an extraordinary knack of compressing complex history into an informing brief paragraph or a single sentence, making this "first full-scale biography" of Tubman (18251913) a revelation. To the task of illuminating the "difficult to document" life of the woman known as "Moses," Clinton brings her deep immersion in Southern history, women's history and African-American history. Succinctly, she sets the stage upon which Tubman moves, offering just enough biographical detail to give less well-known figures vitality (Mary Shadd Cary gets more space than Frederick Douglass; Union general David Hunter more than William Lloyd Garrison) and just enough historical detail to render Tubman's milieu meaningful (unfamiliar Canadian history gets more space than the familiar Fugitive Slave Acts). Although she often posed as an old woman, Tubman was in her 20s when she began her rescues, and in her mid-30s as the Civil War broke out. Clinton is meticulous (without being annoying) in distinguishing the speculative from the known in Tubman's private life. Of far greater consequence is Clinton's revelation of Tubman's public (though usually clandestine) work. In distinguishing between "runaways" and "fugitives," between "conductors" and "abductors... those who ventured into the South to extract slaves" ("all of them white men" before Tubman), in detailing the extent to which she "never wavered in her support" of John Brown, in chronicling her role in the Combahee River raid, Clinton turns sobriquets into meaningful descriptors of a unique person. In her hands, a familiar legend acquires human dimension with no diminution of its majesty and power.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
From Bookmarks Magazine
At long last Harriet Tubman, the subject of school myth and lore, has a full-fledged biography. Critics agree that Clinton does a remarkable job researching the life of a woman who left few traces; not only was she born into slavery, but she was also illiterate, and the Underground Railroad left no written records. Despite these obstacles, Clinton delves into university archives to paint a detailed portrait of Tubman's life--from her marriage, militant politics, and role in the Underground Railroad to her activism in the northern free black community of Philadelphia. Her significant contribution lies in placing Tubman's life smartly within 19th-century Southern history. In short, this graceful biography elevates Tubman from a minor cultural icon to a significant figure in American history.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Ms. Tubman's salad days lack insightful personal information due to her slave status and a 1850s fire. Therefore Ms. Clinton provides a general look at conditions for slaves in Eastern Shore, Maryland. This generalization enables the audience to infer how Harriet probably lived in her early years. Deeper insight is provided to her middle and later years this is a suburb account that biography readers will appreciate because it is well written, easy to follow, and loaded with plenty on interesting detail about a genuine American hero. Though the author too easily accepts the "legendary" Tubman as gospel, HARRIET TUBMAN: THE ROAD TO FREEDOM is an endearing educational and entertaining book that history buffs and biography aficionados will enjoy.
Still, it does update much of what we learned about Tubman in our children's books, so I can recommend it to general readers. But I feel academics will be better served by Kate Clifford Larson's HARRIET TUBMAN - BOUND FOR THE PROMISED LAND.
Curator, AfroAmericanHeritage dot com