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Narrative of Sojourner Truth

4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,302 Ratings  ·  123 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 1850)
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Sep 05, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  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
Oct 12, 2014 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
I took this to be an actual memoir of Sojourner Truth. I had thought she did a lot of interesting things in her life and fought back at the system. Turns out she was even bigger than that. Sojourner Truth alias Isabella van Wagenen personally knew God. She met with Him in shady nooks and demanded things from Him. And God always, always, always obeyed Isabella's orders. So there you go! That's the gist of this book.

If you wanted to know more about Isabella's life, this book is not the book for yo
May 16, 2016 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who have an interest in American history or slave narratives
Sometimes reading a book isn’t about pleasure, but rather a way to show respect for someone life, struggle or ideas. Sojourner Truth deserves to have her story read. She was a bold woman who lived with fearless integrity.

Sojourner Truth's life is very interesting, but that is about the only thing that I enjoyed about this book. I didn’t like Gilbert’s constant interjections. I have a children’s bible written in this style (which by the way I love). Gilbert presents a situation and then she adds
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
Jul 15, 2007 Katherine rated it it was amazing  ·  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
mis fit
Apr 02, 2015 mis fit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Great narrative of the harrowing circumstances Sojourner Truth endured as a woman freed from slavery prior to the Civil War. The English is antiquated, of course, so that can make it hard to get through in parts. But the descriptions of the circumstances of slavery, from living conditions, to beatings, to the interplay between master and slave were very real and important to read about. Her optimism, spirit, strength, and determination shines throughout her narrative as she demands her freedom, ...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
Claire Baxter
I felt kind of bad giving this book a low score but to be honest I struggled through it and considered not finishing it. Taking nothing away from her life at all because it was a remarkable life, and this book is an important historical document, but as a reading book, it felt incoherent at times and jumped around between first and third person and also between time periods so I wasn't always sure who exactly they were talking about. It was interesting to learn about slavery in the north as that ...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
Antoine Dumas
Jan 05, 2016 Antoine Dumas rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is not the narrative of Sojourner Truth. Even though it's presented as an autobiography, it is a white person’s interpretation of certain events in Truth’s life, with heavy emphasis on the religious ones (if you wanted to read some shallow ruminations about the relationship between Jehovah and Jesus, help yourself). The focus on the white people involved and the insistence on leaving out the more gruesome details because it would damage certain people’s reputation get really frustrating (if ...more
Jan 27, 2014 Ahonsi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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).
Jan 17, 2012 Sara rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: worst
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?
Phil Jensen
Buyer beware! Sojourner Truth did not actually write this book. A woman named Olive Gilbert wrote it after having some conversations with Truth. The question you have to ask yourself is: How interested are you in Olive Gilbert? Here's a sample of her prose:

"We will now turn from the outward and temporal to the inward and spiritual life of our subject." (p. 39)

Everything wrong with the book is in that sentence. Gilbert is not interested in telling Truth's story in Truth's words. She's interested
Nov 12, 2012 Hanan rated it it was amazing  ·  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!!
Charlene Lewis- Estornell
I love Sojourner Truth and will keep looking for a biography about her that captivates me more than this one did. I thought I was going to read her own words. That was not what this was. However, i am just as happy to read about her, but I think she deserves to be written about in a way that is more similar to the books I have read by great authors who are gifted at pulling together all of the details of someone's life and sharing them with their reader in a way that reads less like a book repor ...more
Feb 29, 2016 Zoe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was about an amazing person, that was born a slave. She worked hard for no money, when she shouldn't even have had to work. She got sold back and forth. Until she became a free woman, met Lincoln, published her own book, and started talking and singing against slavery. Her name was Sojourner Truth.

I think this book was great, and I personally recommend this book to everyone.
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
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
Anthony Mancia
Sep 22, 2015 Anthony Mancia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i think it is great for pepole that are interest in book about how it was in the old day i love the book how it give so much thing you did not know about how slave did thing i think it is great
Parte del reto, Be an international feminist.
Estoy cansada de leer tantas cosas denigrantes y espantosas, así que me estoy proponiendo leer más autoras feministas y libros más diversos. ¿Como que? Personajes no-heterosexuales, personajes no-binarios, personajes transgéneros, personajes de color, personajes discapacitados/con una discapacidad, libros body positive, y sobre enfermedades mentales, desórdenes alimenticios. Cualquier género está bien. Por favor, recomendame!

In English
Oct 24, 2014 Charlie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
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
Sojourner Truth is one of the most interesting figures in American history, so I was really looking forward to reading this. Unfortunately, Olive Gilbert is not the best writer. Her prose is wooden and she tends to intrude on the story to give her opinions about things. If only this story could have been told in Sojourner Truth's own powerful and captivating voice, it would have been a much better read.
Jan 20, 2015 Annette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Jul 21, 2015 Allison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was dictated to Olive Gilbert in 1850, and as such is, written in an older form of English. I can hear a proper women's voice when I read it and love the run on sentences. The perspective of a freed slave living in the north before the Civil War is powerful. Her experiences of slavery, being separated from her parents, and then separated from her own children just touch on some of the horrors of the time and of slavery. I really loved how the writer explains how Sojourners views of God ...more
Apr 01, 2015 Cyndi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very well presented narrative about one of the best known abolitionists in US history. What a journey.
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African-American ...: Narrative of Sojourner Truth - May Group Read 41 22 Jun 01, 2016 03:55PM  
conflicted by the title/ name 2 20 Mar 01, 2009 07:30AM  
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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.
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“Where there is so much racket, there must be something out of kilter” 5 likes
“Let others say what they will of the efficacy of prayer, I believe in it, and I shall pray. Thank God! Yes, I shall always pray,” 1 likes
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