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The Narrative of Sojourner Truth

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  4,075 ratings  ·  86 reviews
One of the most important slave narratives of all time, "The Narrative of Sojourner Truth" tells the story of one African American woman who struggles against the bondages of slavery in the mid-1800s. With the strength of her spirituality, Truth overcomes many struggles in her life and goes on to become a leading abolitionist and champion of women's rights. An important hi ...more
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Published January 1st 2010 by MVB E-Books (first published 1850)
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Michael
Sep 05, 2013 Michael rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Beautifully written and a pleasure to read even though the truth it tells is difficult to admit.
This should be required reading in junior high or middle school as it is called in some parts of the U.S.A.

History is often fiction by the time it rests in the ears and mind of a student. History is told by the winner, distorted by religion, fabricated by governments, lost in translation and misplaced in forgotten time capsules. Slavery stripped human beings of their hope, their loved ones, their pr
...more
John
What an inspiring individual! She had courage, compassion and a compelling drive to get things done.

A great story...all the greater because it is true.

There is a special place in heaven reserved for people like Sojourner Truth.
Cindy
Sojourner Truth had to be one of the most charismatic people ever to walk the Earth.* Charisma is hard to convey in any mode that's not face-to-face. This book might be as close to capturing raw charisma as I have ever seen. She stands out even in an era of incredibly charismatic people.

My edition had both The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, and the Book of Life. The latter was Sojourner's scrapbook and autograph book she carried around as she traveled preaching and telling her story.

My reaction
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Samantha Williams
The book didn't really appeal to me that much, because I was having authenticity issues with the book. It was wrote by Sojourner herself, it was wrote by someone else, transcribing Sojourner's words directly. So that for me caused a block to go up, just because Sojourner was black and lived during a time where blacks were considered merchandise. She was a slave. I kept thinking what if the writer added words to Sojourner's, because she thought Sojourner was indeed unable and ignorant to write he ...more
mis fit
If you want to read something that is going to make your troubles seem pretty damn small and petty, this is a good choice. Sojourner Truth's life was hard, and this narrative provides many insights into the horrors of slavery. I am definitely interested in reading more about her life and her work.
Katherine
Jul 15, 2007 Katherine rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: non-fiction
Powerful, heart-breaking, uplifting. Historically fascinating because many newspaper accounts, meeting notices and personal greetings are excerpted from her "Book of Life", a kind of scrapbook/autograph book she carried with her on her travels. Abraham Lincoln, Emily Dickinson, Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, Ulysses S. Grant all signed it during her lifetime. My only regret about her narrative is that the persons to whom she dictated her life story chose, for the most part, to edit her wo ...more
Margaret
Sojourner Truth was born Isabella, a slave, in New York just before 1800. She was emancipated when New York abolished slavery in 1827, and a few years later, she took a new name for herself and began a new career as an itinerant preacher. She quickly became famous for her stirring speeches and her championing of the rights of black people and women, and today she's one of the most famous African-American women of the Civil War period (along with Harriet Tubman).

The 1884 edition of her Narrative
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Denise
This is an important piece of historical literature by Sojourner Truth to primarily point out the evils of slavery. It is helpful to read a biography of her first and be familiar with her life. This little volume was penned for her by someone else, as she could not read nor write. This narrative was published for her to sell as a way to help support herself as she traveled about speaking against slavery. This only covers the beginning of her life, and she had many more adventures that followed t ...more
Sara
Normally, reading a book for school doesn't ruin it for me. This time....
Well, I expected it to be slightly interesting, at least. The life sounded slightly interesting. She sounded fierce enough. But it wasn't. No engaging characters, no engaging plot. I didn't finish it. There's a test on it coming soon, and we shall see if I reread it. At this point I would rather fail the test than reread the book. Does that imply how awful it is?
Violante
Mar 23, 2015 Violante marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: be-feminist
Parte del reto, Be feminist.

Estoy cansada de leer tantas cosas denigrantes y espantosas, así que me propongo leer más libros y autoras feministas (si no saben qué es el feminismo o quieren informarse más, pueden chusmear por acá). O en su defecto, libros sin girl-hate, slut-shaming... ya me entienden. No duden en recomendar.
...more
Charlie

And it shall come to pass . . . that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy' – Joel 2:28

The woman who would come to be called Sojourner Truth was born around 1797 in Ulster County, New York. Truth's given slave name was Isabella. Nell Irvin Painter identified three significant time periods in Truth's life: "slavery, evangelism, and antislavery feminism" (Painter). Her first language was Dutch. Yet, through her master’s abuse she learned to spea
...more
Josh Meares
Sojourner Truth has an amazing story. I enjoyed reading about her character, her energy, her faith, her honesty. The dirty truths of American slavery, though there are also some rays of light and humanity which are rarely pointed out in modern historiography. It is sad that the story couldn't have been told directly by Sojourner herself. It was mediated by Olive Gilbert, and he just does not capture Sojourner's voice, except in the few direct quotes.

Here are a few of my favorites quotes from thi
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Jeni Enjaian
If you want to learn about Sojourner Truth, pick another book. The initial narrative is smooth but lacks clear definition on a number of important fronts like historical actors and chronology. Much of the book is highly propagandistic, especially religiously, although such a fact is typical of works of the era. The second half makes very little sense. It is a seemingly random compilation of anecdotes, personal letters and notes among other odd items, none of which are arranged chronologically. T ...more
Teresa Kemp
I am a researcher and historian so I love reading about women who rose above their standings to achieve great things. Her Ain't I Woman Speech is my favorite.

Any woman who when heckled for being to forceful to be a woman, she silenced them by bearing her breast! This is my kind of amazing! She was unafraid, unapologetic and joined forces with Fredrick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison.

Days when the going gets hard, life sends me challenges of illness or family members deaths, I am pushed on by
...more
Hanan
Nov 12, 2012 Hanan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hanan by: Penn Foster High School
This book showed me how a woman can make a change despite the unfair age she lived in, remarkable strong woman who contributed to shaping of society in her own way!!
Cyndi
A very well presented narrative about one of the best known abolitionists in US history. What a journey.
Arielle
2015 Reading Challenge - A nonfiction book.

I originally read bits of this in 1998. After having read it in its' entirety this time, I was a bit surprised how her abolitionist work was barely highlighted. Her early years as an enslaved person were documented, but her time as an adult, mostly focused on her religious growth. While, I know from other things I have read about her, that her religious life was deeply intertwined with her passion for freedom and the abolition of slavery, I felt that wa
...more
Cynthia
This book is a narrative from Sojourner Truth's point of view, of experiences in her life and her family's life related to surviving and overcoming slavery as well as her journey in discovering God and her increasingly growing faith. It is not along book, but I had to put it down on several occasions, because of my hectic schedule. It was not difficult to pick back up where it left off. Sojourner Truth (a name she gave herself - you will have to read the book to learn her birth name), is stoic, ...more
Jeff Humphreys
Mar 02, 2013 Jeff Humphreys rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: shaker historians, spiritualism historians, slavery historians
Shelves: history
I may have read something slightly different: The Narrative of Sojourner Truth by Olive Gilbert. Sojourner could not write, so to some degree someone wrote down her story for her. Gilbert's language has a religious fervor to it that would have suited Sojourner.

It's an amazing story, and difficult to read due to the stilted language of the period. At first it seems like any other story on the cruelties of slavery - but then is such cruelty just any other story? Still, the story moves beyond those
...more
William Hayes
An important document of slavery in the United States, this slim book is the story of "an extraordinary woman in such hard times for black Americans." Remaindered for $1.00, I could not resist buying it. My edition was published by Paperview Ltd. in association with The Boston Globe, 2005.

The book tells the story of part of the life of Isabella, born a slave to slave parents in 1797, set free by law in 1928, and living as an itinerant preacher at the point that the book leaves off the story, abo
...more
Ahmed Ghoneim
In this book it describes the life of a woman born in slavery times in america and how this woman changes

there is not people that she really stays with but if you look at it from her masters perspective she is just another slave not a very important person that changes history or even sometimes they treat her like an animal

i would recommend this book to people that are interested in slavery times and how it ended and the perspective of a slave
Create Parity
While I had learned her name in history class, I never really knew the story of Sojourner Truth. I had even heard of and listened to a recounting of her most famous speech, "Ain't I a woman?" But I guess I never really understood who she was before.

She was a much more interesting person than I gave her credit for, but I suppose that could be said of most historical figures. There is so much more here than I expected there to be.
Annette
Sojourner Truth's slave experience and her courage gripped me, initially. To me, the tempo changed during her preaching circuit. Even still, there were poignant moments: having children read the Bible to her instead of adults with their comments; the former slaveholder's confession; and speaking to an unruly crowd and how she maintained crowd control. I am glad that I read this wonderful narrative.
Ahonsi
It's not that Sojourner Truth's story isn't worth being told, it's the manner in which it was presented. The person who penned her narrative, Olive Gilbert, in my opinion, did a poor job conveying Truth's account and inserted too much of their self into it. As such, it was a job to read this, and not a thing of leisure. Truth should have shone through more, in a way that Frederick Douglas did in his first and second narratives (which so happen to have been authored by his own hand).
Melanie
"....When [Sojourner Truth] was examining the Scriptures, she wished to hear them without comment; but if she employed adult persons to read them to her, and she asked them to read a passage over again, they invariably commenced to explain, by giving her their version of it; and in this way, they tried her feelings exceedingly. In consequence of this, she ceased to ask adult persons to read the Bible to her, and substituted children in their stead. Children, as soon as they could read distinctly ...more
Janet Gardner
Sojourner Truth is one of those people I’ve known about for decades, but the only thing of hers I’d actually read was the famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech (which, of course, was written and re-written over the years and may not be a very clear representation of the extemporaneous oration she gave). On the whole, I found this oral history quite interesting, and of course very sad and moving. For my own purposes, though, I wish it had spent more time on her days in slavery and immediately after, a ...more
Vaishali
Chilling account of one of America's most clear~thinking, courageous women. Be prepared for parts that are graphically harrowing. A living testimony of human cruelty on the one hand and triumphant compassion on the other. What an amazing, amazing woman.
Robin Babb
As moving as Sojourner Truth's story is, this version of it is told through so many filters that it's almost impossible to hear her voice in it. Although, granted, it is hard to make writing true to a woman who could neither read nor write (a friend of Sojourner transcribed (and added many flourishes to) the story), I wish that we could read the young Isabella's story in her own voice. Much of the writing seems too clinical and polished -- a style which certainly wasn't Sojourner's.

That being sa
...more
Val
I have read this several times throughout my lifetime, beginning with my formal education. I try to revisit it at least once a decade. As usual, it is awe-inspiring. What one woman can accomplish in a time of the early 1800s with no means whatsoever to accomplish it. Powerful woman, powerful testament to the human spirit, powerful testament to the will of the Divine. This year, I will be introducing my son to slavery in America in his studies: not the flat cardboard textbook of it--which seems t ...more
Sarah
An amazing, if a little too-editorialized, account of a former woman slave in America.
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conflicted by the title/ name 2 14 Mar 01, 2009 07:30AM  
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  • The Classic Slave Narratives
  • Black Looks: Race and Representation
  • Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought
  • Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology
  • Up from Slavery
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  • W.E.B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868-1919
  • Founding America: Documents from the Revolution to the Bill of Rights
  • Dust Tracks on a Road
  • Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
  • An Autobiography
  • When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America
  • Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism (PB)
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Sojourner Truth (1797–November 26, 1883) was the self-given name, from 1843, of Isabella Baumfree, an American abolitionist and women's rights activist. Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, New York. Her best-known speech, "Ain't I a Woman?," was delivered in 1851 at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio.
More about Sojourner Truth...
Three Narratives of Slavery The Book of Life Narrative of Sojourner Truth Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave Let Nobody Turn Us Around: Voices on Resistance, Reform, and Renewal an African American Anthology

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