Customer Reviews: Remembering Slavery: African Americans Talk About Their Personal Experiences of Slavery and Freedom
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on March 7, 1999
There can be no more powerful telling of the history of slavery in the United States than to read it and hear it from the slaves' own mouths. Their recollections are, for the most part, graphic and chilling, but the diversity of these life experiences are also rich with good stories, too....slaves bonding together, looking out for one another and at times outwitting their masters and overseers. While the general knowledge of salvery has been known to many Americans for years, it is the actual detailed accounts of day-to-day life that make this book come alive. I hadn't known, for instance, that slaves were required to have passes in order to travel off the plantations or that Christmas and New Year's were largely times of rejoicing for both slave families and their master's families. Yet for the rest of the year the hardships and conditions that most slaves witnessed was incredible....beatings often for no reason, no shoes or lack of other clothing during the winter cold and often not nearly enough food. The clarity with which these former slaves recall their life 80 years or more before is an indication of how etched in their young minds life had been. The accompanying audio cassettes were the main reason l bought the book and they simply added a human dimension to the whole story. l had only two small disappointments with the audio segment....l would rather have had none of the actors read the transcripts...(the actual slave voices are far more powerful) and l wish that photos of the slave speakers could have been provided.... while there were many photos of the former slaves in the book they were not the photos of the slaves who made the audio tapes. In a time where revisionist history seems to be the rage it is, in a strange way, rather comforting to hear these stories told by the people who lived them. How these men and women suffered under bondage and lived for so many years afterward to finally tell about it is a tribute to their spirit and courage.
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on October 27, 1999
the collection puts a face and voice to slavery. it answered any questions, while creating others. informative, letting the listeners know of the pride, courage and brillance of slaves. but in knowing more, the tapes clearly reveal that the whole, real truth died with the people of that era. we will never know the complete truth about that institution. it was a brutal mistake that still haunts all of civilization. the collection is an unbelievable experience.
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on October 27, 1998
It's tough to tackle slavery and a work of such substance in a forum such as this, but here goes anyway...
Ira Berlin does a magnificent job, especially with his introduction, which sets the tone of the work and explains the various shortcomings related to the primary sources for his material.
This is not a compilation of slave narratives. This is a compilation of excerpts from interviews with elderly former slaves. It is a powerful look into the institution of slavery; while hardly exhaustive. it provides an excellent snapshot of slavery by the people who lived through and, indeed, suffered under it. You read about slaves: how they were born; where they lived; their relationship with the land, their masters, their drivers, and their fellow slaves; their religious expression; and several other aspects of their lives.
I found that this work helped puncture the mythology of slavery on both sides -- the mythology of the apologists as well as the liberals.
For me, ultimately, it reinforced a belief that I have developed a long time ago. There were "degrees" of slavery in practice across the US; there were good owners and bad ones; but one thing is for sure, all slave owners at some level knew of the humanity of their slaves. While for some this lead to leniency, for others this lead to denial-inspired harshness with their slaves. Either way, slave owners, whether "benevolent" or vicious, in the mere act of slaveowning performed a crime against humanity because they simply knew better...
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on December 21, 2002
For several years I've been reading powerful thought-provoking slave narratives. This is probably the most moving due to accompanying tapes of slaves discussing their thoughts and conditions when they were slaves. This book and tapes should be used in every high school American and World history classes. I recommend this book to everyone above the age of twelve. If you want to begin educating your children earlier about American history, specifically slavery have them read K.J. McWilliams books; The Journal of Darien Duff, an Emancipated Slave, The Diary of a Slave Girl, Ruby Jo, and The Journal of Leroy Jones, a Fugitive Slave. They are based on slave narratives such as this one and include many interesting photos as well as additional information.
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on April 15, 2014
This is a must read for anyone who has any questions about what it must have felt like to be a slave. I learned a lot and highly recommend the book. It's written EXACTLY as the interviewee speaks it so it's slow southern reading. Sometimes I'd have to read the sentence twice to understand what they were getting at, but it's a true representation of what was said so no complaints here. I really enjoyed the interviews and the pictures.
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on April 28, 2015
One of the most surprising things about this book is how funny and human it is - even when it's grim, the real voices ring through the stories. A review of this book should either be ten words or ten thousand, so I'll just say that I recommend it without reservation, a beautiful and important document of life in slave times.
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on March 13, 1999
This is a must read book! If you buy no other book this year this is the one to read and listen! I'm also saving this book and tape as a reference book for my children. It's not eveyday that one has a chance to listen to acual voices of slaves. It like the past comes alive as listen to their voices.
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on December 2, 1998
After years of having read the slave narratives and combing them for glimpses into the lives of our ancestors, hearing their voices for the first time was awesome. Seeing their pictures in the accompanying book was incredible. The editors and producers did a wonderful job of bringing this indispensible piece of oral and written history to us. Making the effort to give us their written words in dialect as closely reflective of them as possible, made the text so immediate. The authors would surely be proud of what those long ago conversations hath wrought.
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on September 15, 2012
The interviews with actual former slaves were riveting. I was especially affected by the story of Pappa Dallas who was beaten and had his eyes burned out for trying to learn his alphabet so that he could read his bible. He made someone promise that they would go as far as they could in school and read all that they could. I also make that promise to Paapa Dallas and all of our ancestors who were denied an education.
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on May 20, 2014
When I Received Remembering Slavery I was very pleased because the Book and two cassettes were like Brand New as described. To be able to listen to former slaves describe their ordeals was amazing and sad. I feel as if I have experienced History first hand!!
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