jinnayah's review

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If you've ever tried to read the Library of Congress' Slave Narratives, you probably found many of them to be rather challenging. Many of the interviewers tried to render the former slaves' accents phonetically, and in the process made them nearly unreadable. (Some people suspect that was the intent.)

In this book, Belinda Hurmence has taken narratives from North Carolina, narrowed it down to participants who were at least 10 years old when slavery ended, corrected the intentional misspellings added by interviewers, and compiled them into a good, if short, collection.

I definitely suggest this for anyone who has an interest in the Slave Narratives, but isn't up for slogging through the interviewer-added obfuscation.

laurabrantreads's review

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Themes: The church in America is/was complicit in slavery. Every slave interviewed mentions what they were taught in church, specifically, the command to obey masters. The incorrectly interpreted Bible verses were used to justify and uphold the institution of slavery as Biblical. Few slave owners, no matter how nice, allowed slaves to learn to read and write. Former slaves felt differently about pre- and post-slavery in America. All slaves were deeply disturbed by the selling of fellow slaves. There was fear of the paddywagons. It was powerful to read the actual words of people who were enslaved and then free.

dfolivieri's review

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I hadn't known that a book like this existed. It's painful and fascinating to read interviews with former slaves. Rather disappointing that the interviews were conducted by white workers.