Narrative of Sojourner Truth
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Narrative of Sojourner Truth

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  3,122 ratings  ·  71 reviews
One of the most important documents of slavery ever written, this landmark in the literature of African-American women is the eloquent autobiography of a woman who became a pioneer in the struggles for racial and sexual equality. The spiritual, inspiring narrative bears witness to Sojourner Truth's 30 years as a slave in upstate New York.
Kindle Edition
Published (first published January 1st 1970)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
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...more
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
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
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
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...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...more
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?
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
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!!
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
Scott added it
Jul 03, 2014
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).
"....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
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
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
An amazing, if a little too-editorialized, account of a former woman slave in America.
Christopher Sutch
This is worth reading for the details of Truth's life. But I'm disappointed that a third-rate abolitionist writer was chosen to interview Truth and produce this work of average talent. The most interesting parts are the direct quotes from Truth herself; if the book had taken the form of an interview (a genre not really recognized as legitimate at the time, I realize) this could have been a great book. It does give an indication of the practice of slavery in the "free" states, and is also worthwh...more
This was a good book. I learned a lot about her.
Terry Earley
I actually read the edition with an informative introduction by Margaret Washington, and I am now reading Washington's biography of her, "Sojourner Truth's America". Also highly recommended.

SLC county library:
Everett Darling
An important document for sure, although I could have done without many of Ms. Olive´s interjections which often diminished Ms. Truth, in doubting her words or memory. It warrants learning more about Olive Gilbert since it seems to be in many ways her story, as she not only posits herself as a liason between the speaker, the keyboard, and the audience, but as a coach to Ms. Truth´s memory and a contextualizer for the readers.
I thought the book would have a bit more than it did - but it was enough to reveal a woman of extreme principal, determination and spirituality. If I can only be half the woman that she was, I will be wonderful. Definitely a role model. Since this only covers her earliest years, I can't wait to read more about her. And really, I can't be mad - it was a free book!
This wasn't what I was expecting. It was her life story retold by someone else - would have been better told in her own words. The author was very melodramatic - reminded me of an old silent movie. A lot of the book contained Sojourner's sermons and didn't hold my interest. After reading a third of it, I skimmed the second third, and skipped the last third.
Meg Petersen
I enjoyed learning about Sojourner Truth's life, but as she did not read or write herself, I didn't really trust the version I was getting. The book certainly gave me an appreciation for this remarkable woman. The second part of the book, which contained writings about her and others' accounts of her was slower going for me, and more of scholarly interest.
Don Voorhees
This inspiring memoir, first published in 1850, recounts the struggles of a distinguished African-American abolitionist and champion of women's rights. Sojourner Truth tells of her life in slavery, her self-liberation, and her travels across America in pursuit of racial and sexual equality. Essential reading for students of American history.
Although there isn't a lot to her narrative I really enjoyed it. I think it shows how each individual can find their purpose. She was a truth seeker and I really enjoyed that part of her personality. She was strong and faithful. Definitely a character worth noting in our history.
Dec 02, 2007 Graceann rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Biography Fans
Shelves: biography
As an admirer of the "Ain't I a Woman" speech and someone who was interested in learning more about the lady behind it, I looked forward to reading this book. I admire the editing behind this narrative, given that so little is known about Sojourner Truth's early life, but it is a commendable effort and a satisfying read.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
conflicted by the title/ name 2 11 Mar 01, 2009 07:30AM  
  • Sojourner Truth: A Life, a Symbol
  • My Bondage and My Freedom
  • Southern Horrors and Other Writings: The Anti-Lynching Campaign of Ida B. Wells, 1892-1900
  • Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-AmericanFeminist Thought
  • Ida: A Sword among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign against Lynching
  • But Some Of Us Are Brave: All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men: Black Women's Studies
  • Up from Slavery
  • W.E.B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868-1919
  • The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man
  • Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision
  • Founding America: Documents from the Revolution to the Bill of Rights
  • Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology
  • An Autobiography
  • The Classic Slave Narratives
  • Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman
  • Black Looks: Race and Representation
  • Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880
  • Dust Tracks on a Road
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 The Narrative of Sojourner Truth Let Nobody Turn Us Around: Voices on Resistance, Reform, and Renewal an African American Anthology Slave Narratives (Library of America #114)

Share This Book

“Where there is so much racket, there must be something out of kilter” 5 likes
More quotes…