A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Own Narratives of Emancipation
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A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Own Narratives of Emancipation

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  185 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Slave narratives, some of the most powerful records of our past, are extremely rare, with only fifty-five post-Civil War narratives surviving. A mere handful are first-person accounts by slaves who ran away and freed themselves. Now two newly uncovered narratives, and the biographies of the men who wrote them, join that exclusive group with the publication of "A Slave No M...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published January 15th 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) (first published November 5th 2007)
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Jason Koivu
Though lacking the depth and description one might hope to garner from a firsthand account of slavery and escape, A Slave No More... still captures the essence and importance of these men's tales.

Blight introduces at exhaustive length the two slave's narratives, expounding with such great insight that it makes the roughly written narratives from the mouths of the uneducated slaves almost redundant when you actually get around to reading them. However, his explanations go a long way to enliven a...more
Oct 20, 2008 Maya rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all Americans
I heard an interview of David Blight on Fresh Air and knew right away that I had to read this book. These two narratives are amazing. Each man was a slave who escaped to freedom during the civil war and then later wrote the story of his escape. And each story was protected, but hidden, for almost a hundred years so that they are now available to us completely unaltered from their original writing (which wouldn't be the case if they'd been published at the time of their writing).

It goes without s...more

I've always been a fan of those sort of rags-to-riches stories, but with slave narratives it takes these stories to a new level of awesome. How you go from chattel to society-man or -woman within one generation is astounding, perhaps impossible for most of those former slaves who have gone before us.

In their narratives, both Wallace Turnage and John Washington use geography in near-precise terms. Through this geography, David Blight was able to place these slaves' escapes within the larger lands

As the civil war was being waged, two slaves, John M. Washington and Wallace Turnage, seized the moment and escaped across Confederate lines and into the union army. Both men left narratives or autobiographies that were passed down through friends and family and only recently came to attention of historians. Blight, a foremost authority on emancipation and professor at Yale University, published them with no changes to grammar or spelling, adding a lengthy analysis that reveals how the narrative...more
Joe Lehman
Academic English 10
Ms. Emmett
April 5, 2013

"A Slave No More", is a book that describes two accounts of different slaves escaping from their servitude. As you know already, trying to gain freedom was a dream for all slaves and was the most difficult task any of the people had ever faced. The book's setting takes place during the civil war from the year 1838 to about 1900. The first account is of a man named John Washington, he was a town slave and did things such as running errands for...more
Patrick Walsh
When we were visiting a cousin this past summer she loaned us her copy of this book. It had been given to her by her son, who lives in one of the houses mentioned in John Washington's account of his time in Fredericksburg. John Washington's story, and the story of Wallace Turnage, are humbling and inspiring. It's humbling to think that people were still enslaved in this country as recently as 150 years ago. Put another way, my maternal grandfather was born only three years after last slaves were...more
Wallace Turnage and John Washington were two men who escaped from slavery during the Civil War and made their way North as free men, settling down and raising children in what hardscrabble freedom was available to them in the years of reconstruction. At some point later in their lives, each wrote a first-hand account of his escape from slavery, repeating some of the tropes of the escape narrative genre while making their own untutored (but literate) way through the story.

Historian David Blight,...more
The two rare emancipation narratives that are at the heart of this book evoke a strong emotional response. The treatment that these two men endured as slaves is shocking. Their successful escapes to freedom brought tears to my eyes. David Blight, the author, begins the book by setting the two emancipation narratives in historical context. He does an excellent job. The two original narratives follow. The first one is by John M. Washington, who was a slave in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The second o...more
These are the first-person accounts of two men, born into slavery in this country, who freed themselves, finding an opportunity to do that in the chaos created by the Civil War. The two men didn't know each and never met. One, Wallace Turnage, was a field hand in Alabama, the other, John Washington, was a household slave in the city of Richmond, Virginia, They are remarkable people. The book contains each narrative, unedited for the most part, and these are introduced by biographical essays on e...more
I was pleasantly surprised to see that this was written better than I could have . . . my highest compliment. Well-done.
Alesia Nicole
Powerful book. A little hard to follow at times. very real look into something that wasn't to far away! A good lesson to never to forget! the fight for freedom has been a long hard road and is not over yet!
A history of emancipation through the writings of two slaves that personally experienced it. It is amazing to see the difference beween the two and their reaction to the hardships involved in gaining their freedom. There is a commentary before each of the writing that explains the realtionship of what is written and the actual hisrotical events which I as a nonhistorian enjoyed. Maps and pictures helped place the events.
The actual narratives where interesting. All the research about the men and the historical information really gave a full picture of their situations.
Paul Gilbert
Wow! An amazing glimpse not only into two men's struggles to escape slavery but into a time--not that long ago--when some humans were considered property. David Blight does an excellent job of providing context for these men's lives as well as providing some additional details, especially their lives after the Civil War. Reading these unedited, original manuscripts I wondered if I'd ever be half as courageous.
This a well written book with a lot of detail about how the Civil War, in general, and slavery, specifically, affected the two mens lives. I listened to the audiobook, which was also well done. I am going to scan the book and look at maps just to learn a little more about their journey. If you want to learn more about slavery and the Civil war from a personal viewpoint, I highly recommend this book.
Thomas McConnell
One of my favorite authors on the Civil War. A Slave No More tells the stories of two runway slaves escaping bondage. The first part of the book is Blight's social, political and military analysis of the environment the slaves were living in. Interspersed are both slave's interpretations of the environment they were living in. Included in the book are both narratives written by the escapees.
Book club selection: If you have any sense of the history of slavery and the civil war, just skip to the actual narratives. I found the "introduction" part long and condescending to the reader, but was very interested in the actual narratives from two very different personalities. I did like hearing about the descendents of the authors of the narratives as well.
Blight is a great writer. First he provides the stories of both John Washington and Wallace Turnage in his own words, using their autobiographies to tell a broader story of slaves in the South at the time of the Civil War. Then he provides the unabridged versions of both Wallace and Turnage's autobiographies. Amazing read.
Ok so i thought this was a book if letters and not actually historical facts. I liked the book and thought it was interesting but i was a little disappointed that it wasnt directly from the two main people. I would suggest it to anyone that i think is interested but will not be reading it again.
Anne Broyles
Blight gives a good analysis of the two found texts from extraordinary men who escaped slavery (one after five attempts) in 1862 and 1864. Blight's background of the times and how these men lived their lives in freedom is a nice counterpoint to the way each man tells his own story.
Carolyne Peery
Jan 22, 2008 Carolyne Peery rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
My son gave me this book for Christmas. It really gave me a better understanding of the freeing of slaves during the Civil War. This book gives two accounts actually written by slaves who escaped their masters during the Civil War. Fascinating reading.
Keith Lovell
The narratives are quite excellent as is the discussion on Lincoln's view of slavery though very brief. The authors underlying theme of slavery as the cause of the war is somewhat self serving and lacking. It would be a much better read without it.
Moving accounts of two men who fled slavery to pursue their own, hard-won happiness. The stories are vividly told, and, as a native Washingtonian, I particularly appreciated the depiction of Washington, D. C. just after the Civil War.
I confess--I skipped most of the intro materials and just read the slave narratives. Maybe a bad choice but it was what interested me most. The slave narratives were fascinating and horrifying. Well worth the time.
The narratives were incredible. The monograph was competent but unexciting, except for the assertion (I'm paraphrasing) that contrary to the assertion of some modern apologists, the war really was about slavery.


Amazing! The first-hand recollections buttressed with known historical facts of the day paints a new appreciation for the difficult...impossible...individual journey from slavery to freedom.
Nona Thomas
I have read many of the WPA slave narratives in the past. This book however gives a complete profile of two men both slaves with different experiences who want to be free. Excellent book
Wisteria Leigh
American history,emancipation,slavery,freedom,biography,slave narrative,1838-1918-John Washington,1846-1916-Wallace turnage,Virginia,North Carolina,fugivitive slaves
Liked the narratives themselves better than the historical review of them, but still an interesting book. Very cool contrast between the two men.
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