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Modern Medea: A Family Story of Slavery and Child-Murder from the Old South
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Modern Medea: A Family Story of Slavery and Child-Murder from the Old South

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  47 ratings  ·  8 reviews
The first in-depth historical account of the events that inspired Toni Morrison's novel Beloved.

In the middle of a frigid Sunday night in January 1856, a twenty-two-year-old Kentucky slave named Margaret Garner gathered up her family and raced north, toward Cincinnati and freedom. But Margaret's master followed just hours behind and soon had the fugitives surrounded. Think
Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 1st 1999 by Hill and Wang (first published 1998)
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Historical nonfiction telling the story of Margaret Garner, the woman who provided the seed story for Toni Morrison's Beloved. Garner was a slave who had escaped to free soil, only to be tracked down by her master, at which time she killed her two-year-old child and attempted to kill her other three children. The book understandably gets bogged down with the details of the Garner fugitive slave trial and the Cincinnati/Covington local politics of the time. For the people at the center of the sto ...more
Dec 28, 2007 Denise rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: nf
This is a fascinating book for anyone living in Greater Cincinnati. The author sheds light on what life was like for slaves, slave-owners, and those sympathetic to the fight for freedom, on a day-to-day basis. After a violent and heart-wrenching escape attempt, the reader learns of the drawn-out legal battle involving Margaret Garner and her slave owner from Boone County, KY. While the details are fascinating, they can become a little drawn-out, so skimming is recommended from time to time. The ...more
This is an interesting story, and living in the area where it happens makes it more relevant. Unfortunately, the author is so intent on discussing the facts of the case and giving details about the actual legal drama and surrounding abolitionist conflict that the human part of the story gets a bit lost. I didn't finish the book because it was due at the library (and had a hold on it) but I'm not sure I would have finished it anyways.
This was a well-written account of the Margaret Garner case of child murder. While sometimes I felt that the author was a bit overboard on criticising the way that people of the time looked at and understood the case, generally, it was an engagingly written account. Weisenburger did a very good job bringing out all of the horrors of slavery and the political jockeying around that issue.
Chuck Skorupski
A must read. This little known episode in American History sheds more light on the horrors of slavery than any survey of America's "peculiar institution" could convey.
If you read Toni Morrison's Beloved then you need to read this non-fiction account of the story of Margaret Garner, Morrison's inspiration.
Jul 09, 2009 Laura added it
slavery,American women's history,memory
Amazing research.
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Steven Weisenburger works in American literary and cultural history, especially the cultural history of race, from 1800 forward. His research and teaching interests include United States history and fictions, narrative theory, African American literature, and the cultural history of racism and white supremacy in the United States, but he has also published and taught extensively on contemporary fi ...more
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