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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
7
Phillis Wheatley: Biography of a Genius in Bondage
Format: Hardcover|Change
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on June 14, 2017
This book is full of early american history. It is however a dry read that reads much like a college history book. Worth the read if your looking for a history lesson, but not if looking for an easy read.
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on December 13, 2017
Good book!
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on November 17, 2011
This is a great and interesting biography, of a very intersting woman. I learned alot from reading about her. Thank you to the author for all his hard work, and dedication to researching Phillis Wheatley.
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on February 15, 2015
Perfect
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on January 30, 2014
This book is easy reading with great historical content, combined with a heart stopping saga of a brilliant, but compromised heroine.
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on May 1, 2015
Phillis Wheatley is a name that often appears in early American history, yet relatively little is really known about her.

& that's where this book comes in. This is perhaps the best book on her life. Tracing her origins from West Africa, where she was born. Then as a young girl, got caught up in the Great Atlantic Slave Trade & eventually ended up the property of the Wheatley family in Boston (who named her after the slave ship that bought her to Colonial America). Thankfully the Wheatleys were a well to do family & encouraged Phillis to be educated & to explore her writing. Speaking of which, examples of her work are in this book too, which also ways into her life after she gained her freedom. Sadly, Ms. Wheatley didn't live long & due to the debts of her husband who she married after being emancipated, she died a pauper.

Reading this book really opened my eyes on Ms. Wheatley. The fact that her work even impressed George Washington was a surprise- I'm already aware that Thomas Jefferson didn't like her work. But between the two I always trust Washington's opinions over Jefferson's. You can my opinion on this book-if you want to know more about America's 1st great poet of color, this is a must read.
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on January 4, 2013
Unlike many literary scholars, Vincent Carretta does in-depth archival research, going beyond analysis of formal texts. This prodigious effort on Phillis Wheatley does not yield startling revelations like his "Equiano, the African." The current book is thus less controversial but likely definitive. Wheatley is less well-documented so this is perhaps more a life-and-times work, but Carretta tells much about the "founding mother" of African American and Black Atlantic literature. As with Equiano, Carretta is cautious in his conclusions where facts are inconclusive. (He's skeptical, e.g., that Wheatley actually had tea with George Washington, without ruling it out; GW certainly did invite her to meet him.) But he follows the evidence diligently, and argues forthrightly that Wheatley was a subtle but dedicated proponent of African capacities and interests. A favorite but apocryphal story is the almost-Christlike "examination" by Boston's leading lights to certify that an African slave could actually write well and, like Jesus Himself, she deftly confounded the skeptics. The material on Wheatley's post-emancipation life is important and revealing about her and husband John Peters. S.& E. Kaplan, "The Black Presence in the Era of the American Revolution" provides broader context and has a fine discussion on Wheatley. Perhaps the most tragic aspect of her life was an early death, depriving posterity of a brilliant mind that was evolving in fruitful new directions. If Wheatley had lived into her 50s (typical for 18C Black Atlantic writers) what gems of wisdom, art and activism would she have produced?
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