Michael's Reviews > The Confessions of Nat Turner

The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron
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's review
Sep 20, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: fiction
Read from September 22 to October 08, 2011

It's not for me to comment on the debate about this book stirred by Black Nationalists, much as I guess it wasn't for Styron to try to participate in a debate on black liberation in the 1960s when Black Nationalism was coming into its own.
Regardless, this is a great book, which maybe after all these years can get a reading. If it were written by an African-American writer it might be considered one of the American classics. So many of the points it makes could have been rallied to during the 1960s if it hadn't been denounced. The bottom line is that he makes Nat Turner a very sympathetic character. Without using the more obvious symbols of slavery like whippings and being sold away from family, he makes us see the dehumanizing side of slavery and racism to the point where we want Turner and his band to murder 55 white people including innocent women and children.
Today, when young people are more likely to believe that racism is no longer a problem or that liberation movements are not important than they are to believe that those movements must be pure and not diluted with white sympathizers, a book like this should be read. I am assuming that most of the negative reviews here are not written from a black nationalist perspective, but from a liberal perspective that doesn't condone armed rebellion. Let's celebrate the book and Nat Turner himself for the necessity of that armed rebellion.
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