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Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  615 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews
Who was Harriet Tubman? To John Brown, the leader of the Harpers Ferry slave uprising, she was General Tubman. For those slaves whom she led north to freedom, she was Moses. To the slavers who hunted her down, she was a thief and a trickster. To abolitionists she was a prophet. As Catherine Clinton shows in this riveting biography, Harriet Tubman was, above all, a singular ...more
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Published February 2nd 2004 by Little, Brown and Company
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Mar 11, 2016 Debra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"If you are tired, keep going; if you are scared, keep going' if you are hungry, keep going; if you want to taste freedom, keep going." - Harriet Tubman

I had reasoned this out in my mind, there was one or two things I had a right to, liberty or death; If I could not have one, I would have the other. Harriet Tubman

Born and named Araminta by her parents, she later took her Mother's Name (and possibly the name of one of her sisters), Harriett after she became free. "When Araminta escaped the hell o
Surprisingly influential in my understanding of feminism, activism, and intersectionality: inspired by Tubman's life's work and the ways selected pieces have been elevated or eliminated from the historical narrative. Couple with Bell Hooks and Michelle Alexander writing about Radical Love for a complete nourishing meal.

This is a repost of a reflection I wrote in my zine, Ladders & Hips, back in 2008.


Take the example of Harriett Tubman. Tubman has been mythologized by white biographers
Fabianne Furman
Jan 09, 2016 Fabianne Furman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I heard that Harriet Tubman is a possible candidate for the new $10 bill, I realized that I knew very little about her, and decided to find an adequate biography. Oddly, most Tubman biographies are written for children or adolescents, but I tracked down Catherine Clinton's academic, adult biography. It is thorough and detailed, but never dull. Besides learning incredible facts about Tubman's life and heroism, I also gained considerable knowledge about the civil war, and the incredible (thou ...more
Jul 08, 2015 Bythedeed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been reading a fair amount about slavery, slave resistance and abolitionism in the midwest lately, and so enjoyed a break from that to read about its east coast counterpart.

Since this is the first large text I've ever read about Harriet Tubman (and the first of any sort since grade school), it's hard for me to tell where this biography of hers lies in terms of others or her life itself.

One of the main impressions I was left with from this book was that of Harriet Tubman's incredibly strengt
Tony Hynes
Dec 24, 2015 Tony Hynes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What people sometimes forget is that Harriet Tubman held a gun to the head of slaves who wanted to stop, to quit, to return to their masters or lay stranded in the forest. This book is a reminder of that harsh woman, of the enduring person who would not take no for an answer.
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

(UPDATE: Since writing this review, I've learned that US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew specifically mentioned this book as one of the big reasons his department chose Tubman for the new face of the twenty-dollar bill, high praise indeed for this decade-plus-old volume.)

Like many Americans, when it was annou
Non-Fiction - February, Black History Month read

Excellent biography of Harriet Tubman, born into slavery in the U.S. In approximately 1825, in her early 20's, she left her family and husband in Maryland, to seek freedom in the North.

Illiterate, but deeply religious, and very smart, once she was in the North, she thought she would find freedom. Instead she learned of Southern slave hunters, who would track down escaped slaves for money, return them to the slave owner, often to be whipped, branded
P.J. Sullivan
It is not easy to find reliable information about nineteenth century slaves. Fortunately, Harriet Tubman lived long enough to be questioned by biographers. Still, gaps remain. Pieces of the puzzle are missing. Catherine Clinton has uncovered about all that can be known for sure about this American hero. She supplements the facts with speculations and details about the history of slavery. Don’t expect wall-to-wall coverage of Harriet Tubman here. There are lots of digressions, some of them length ...more
David Schwan
This book is centered around Harriet Tubman's years as a conductor on the underground railroad (UGRR) and her role as a nurse/spy/freer of slaves during the US civil war. Harriet Tubman was an important person in the struggle against slavery and the struggle for the rights of Black Americans. She was well connected with the leaders of the abolition movement.

One interesting point raised by the book is how much of a lightning rod Harriet Tubman is for conservatives. There are and continue to be a
Aug 02, 2016 Frances rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are many biographies of Harriet Tubman for children and young adults, but not many for adult readers. When I read an interview with this author in the Washington Post after the announcement that Tubman would be on the $20 bill ("You have no idea how hardcore Harriet Rubman really was"), I was intrigued.

The biography tells the story of Tubman's early life in slavery, how she liberated herself, and then made a series of trips back into smuggling her family and many others to freedom as part
May 01, 2016 Becky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I learned more about Harriet Tubman, the Underground Railroad (UGRR), black communities and race relations in the north during the decade before the Civil War, and blacks serving in the Civil War.

Tubman is of legend, but her real story is even more amazing. She escaped in 1950, and immediately served as a UGRR conductor helping about 350 people escape. She was an ardent abolitionist, even supporting John Brown's attack on Harper's Ferry. When the Civil War started, she served first as a nurse (
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 Railr

Dawn Lennon
Nov 24, 2015 Dawn Lennon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
We live in a troubled world where there is enormous strife, fear, dislocation, uncertainty, and the specters of death and destruction, often when unexpected. Harriet Tubman lived a life under similar circumstances, but in the 1800's, as a black slave, and a woman. She could have given in to her circumstances, after all she was illiterate, small in height, and very quiet. But instead she became a hero (not a heroine) but a hero through her strength, faith, determination, and pure courage. Harriet ...more
Jun 03, 2016 Cwl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was stoked to read this since my knowledge of Harriet Tubman is quite spotty - I grew up in the deep South & we were too busy learning about how Noah's sons led to all the different races. But now that I've finished, I don't feel that I really have an improved grasp of Tubman. The book meanders pretty far from its subject and, while ex-slave migration to Canada and black religion in the South are interesting topics, they don't really support the central narrative of this biography. It cons ...more
Jul 21, 2016 Charlotte rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was awful. I had to read it for school, and it didn't even focus on Harriet Tubman. I always dreaded reading it, since it was confusing and wasn't about the topic I had hoped. Too much history and information was tied in about Tubman's family, acquaintances, and the slaves she met. Maybe I was just too young for this book, but that's my opinion.
Mar 27, 2013 Marin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I might have liked this book better had it not pretended to be a biography of Harriet Tubman. I find it hard to consider a book a "biography" when it routinely goes 10 or 15 pages without mentioning the ostensible subject of the book.
Heather Hyde
A lot of hear say in this overly long book and considering that Harriet was photographed well into the early 1900s I'm surprised that there is so much supposition as to a lot of the actual occurrences of various events, that aside, it is informative if not a little long winded.
Dana Whitney
Oct 22, 2010 Dana Whitney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jul 30, 2016 Shawn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I was deeply embarrassed by the controversy that arose over the recent proposal to replace the image of Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with that of Harriet Tubman. I was personally embarrassed because I didn’t have a clue who in the world Harriet Tubman was! I’d never even heard of her! This was particularly embarrassing for someone who considers themselves well educated in American History, reads all the time, and is particularly sensitive to black history. However, I have learned
Nov 17, 2016 lungisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very informative on a great shero.
Aryana Chaney
Jan 12, 2017 Aryana Chaney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom by Catherine Clinton leaves the reader feeling inspired to show acts of benevolence towards others that is revealed by her continuous heroic and altruistic acts.
Jun 07, 2016 Sheree rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bios
First up, anyone who might read this review should know that I am a white woman aged 37 this year (and boy do I feel pretty crap considering how much this brave woman had accomplished well before her 37th birthday), born & raised in Australia (4th gen). The only things I know about Americans & African American's is the stuff I see on tv, in the news, in movies.
I went into this book as I made a friend here on GR who is an accomplished African American woman. We bonded over books, being al
From p. 183-184,
“[Sojourner] Truth doubtless knew of [Harriet] Tubman’s work among the soldiers in the Carolinas, and her exploits before and during the war.. Equally, Tubman would have been curious about Truth, the compelling speaker whose lectures always opened with her singing spirituals. The article on Tubman in “The Commonwealth” in July 1863 suggested that “her religious experiences are as startling as those of Sojourner Truth.” (39. “The Commonwealth,” Boston, July 10, 1863) Thus it was
Ismael Galvan
Jul 28, 2014 Ismael Galvan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The historical perspective of oppressed people is immensely valuable. It presents a truth that humiliates and exposes the abusive power structure, dispels lies both old and new, and helps us understand current oppressors.

I started this book because I wanted to know about Harriet Tubman, and was delighted that its coverage expanded much further. Catherine Clinton's research presents a clearer view of the United States during slavery. It was a chaotic era that is difficult to understand due to lac
Wow, I am so inspired by Harriet Tubman! Wow, wow, wow. I recommend reading this book to learn more about Harriet and to be encouraged! This book goes through great lengths to display the heroic, faith-filled, generous, compassionate and loving life of Tubman. At certain points, I felt like the author moved away from Tubman for too long, however, I'm glad she provided ample historical background to provide context for Harriet's story. I learned a lot while reading this book, and it was a pretty ...more
Apr 03, 2016 Hiba rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Harriet Tubman was a slave born in Maryland. She was also a nurse and Civil Rights Activist Her real name was Araminta Ross, but she changed it to Harriet like the name of her mother when she was thirteen. Life was difficult for her. She used to live one room with her family of eleven children. When she was six years old, she started living with another family where she took care of a baby. That family didn't treat her right they didn't give her enough food and they hit her. When she was thirtee ...more
I learned a lot about Harriet Tubman who was really just a name to me before this book. Not only did she lead hundreds of slaves to freedom in Canada through the Underground Railroad before the Civil War, but she sacrificed greatly during the civil war and was a scout, spy, nurse, teacher, and friend to many "contraband" slaves. She was an impressive lady and worked to make other people's lives better throughout her life and she lived a long life. Her struggles to get reimbursed for her civil wa ...more
Laura Crockett
Jul 04, 2015 Laura Crockett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, just wow. If you are interested in the story of America, this is one of the books that needs to be in your library. Because this book travels beyond Mrs. Tubman's life to give us a broad view of slavery, the Civil War and the aftermath of the relations of African and European Americans after the Civil War.

This book is well researched and well written because Carolyn Clinton is a professor of history. She give us, in my small experience with American history, an honest view of the people and
Johnny D
Mar 08, 2014 Johnny D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know I'm supposed to review the book here, but I was deeply impressed with Harriet Tubman as a person — or at least the Harriet Tubman that Catherine Clinton portrays here. I had never heard of the following incident:

"Tubman herself fell victim to the backlash, even as she was returning home a war hero. On the train heading north to Auburn from Virginia, she was roughed up while passing through New Jersey. The conductor decided that Harriet’s papers must have been forged or illegally appropria
Aug 15, 2016 Lori rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, biography
I would give this biography a 3.5. I have always been impressed with Harriet Tubman and wanted to learn more about her. The author takes her bio of Ms. Tubman from birth until her death. As with most biographies, Catherine Clinton relies on research from over the years to collect her data. She tries to write as much as she can that is fact about Tubman but also is quick to point out that some data may be true or just possible rumors. For example there is no proof of Harriet Tubman's actual birth ...more
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Professor of history at Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Specializes in American history, African-American history, the Civil War, and women's history. Previously taught at Brandeis and Harvard universities. Born in 1952, grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. Studied sociology and history at Harvard, earned a master's degree from Sussex and a doctorate from Princeton.
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