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The Long Walk to Freedom: Runaway Slave Narratives

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  52 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
In this groundbreaking compilation of first-person accounts of the runaway slave phenomenon, editors Devon Carbado and Donald Weise have recovered twelve narratives spanning eight decades—more than half of which have been long out of print. Told in the voices of the runaway slaves themselves, these narratives reveal the extraordinary and often innovative ways that these me ...more
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published August 21st 2012 by Beacon Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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A series of snippets from several fugitive slave narratives--the overall picture is very effective, but I feel like the book loses something in giving us only small glimpses into each story. It makes the book feel like something less than the sum of its parts. Nevertheless, a very good (if difficult) read that made me want to read or re-read the individual narratives in their entirety.

I'm not such a huge fan of the way the book is divided up--four major parts, with each arranged according to a t
Ishmael Seaward
Dec 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I find this collection of short histories horrifying, enlightening, and uplifting. These are excerpts of histories of slaves who made it to Northern free states, with the focus on how they actually escaped, as told by the former slaves themselves.

There is the story of Isaac Johnson, from Kentucky. He was born to a white man and a slave woman who lived together as man and wife. As Kentucky began to become more populated, his father (Yeager) came under more and more peer pressure concerning his li
Jan 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent introduction to what life was like under American chattel slavery, told in the voices of people who experienced -- and managed to escape -- it. Over the years I've read a number of the narratives excepted in the book, perhaps half. I found several more on the web and read them as I came to them in this book. They're easy to find and free to read. Over the past 30 years I've come to realize that slavery is the one defining American issue. To this day, the former slave-holding ...more
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: primary-sources
Excellent collection of edited primary source narratives of run-away slaves. It is intensely powerful to read people's own words as they describe the treatment they received as slaves, and the inhumanity they were exposed to. It's truly difficult to describe how sickening and depraved the behavior of many slave owners was towards these people, and how monstrous and heinous the institution of slavery was. There were so many of these stories that had me on the edge of my seat as I read their accou ...more
Kerry Johanson
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
While I think every American should read some accounts of slave experiences, I was dissappointed in this book for a couple of reasons. The title made me expect the stories would focus mostly about successful escapes. In most cases this wasn't the case, in fact some accounts STOPPED just short of the escape. The second reason is that the book grouped the narratives into four categories, but many of the stories did not fit its category. I guess I felt like this was a bit of a bait and switch this ...more
Nov 28, 2012 rated it liked it
I won this book in a goodreads giveaway. The Long Walk to Freedom was an eye opener for me. Even though I have always known slaves were treated horribly, reading about their trials written in their own hand was a difficult experience. I've come to believe there were slave owners who were basically legalized psychopaths. I gave this book 3 stars because the subject was honestly so hard for me to read. My heart ached for these people. The writing and editing were well done and I found myself wanti ...more
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
A great collection of original sources showing some of the things slaves did to escape slavery. After reading the excerpts, I resolved to read the full accounts. This book really made clear the number of obstacles in the way of slaves seeking freedom. It also made clear the sick brutality of slave owners and the lengths to which they went to maintain their dominance over their fellow human brings.
Sep 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
I thought this was a wonderful compilation of narratives from former slaves, but it was not what I expected. I thought it was going to be narratives of their actual runaway attempts, which some were, but others didn't mention anything about their actual escapes and lives afterwards. Overall, it was very moving and informative.
Jul 29, 2013 rated it liked it
The book is divided into different reasons for running away to escape slavery. For each reason there are several slave narratives that highlight the particular reason, such as running away from slavery because of religious reasons or feeling that your escape was facilitated through divine help. These narratives are small portions of actual books written by former slaves.
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, research
Another excellent collection on the true horrors of American slavery, as told by the slaves themselves. Families where the father sold his wife and children, women sexually assaulted and abused by their owners, husbands and wives separated. No modern historian can bring the era alive like these first person accounts.
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In spite of the topic of this book I loved it. I like that the narratives were written in the words of the slaves and in some instances by the slaves. I found myself praying that they all made it to freedom.
Powerful collection of first person slave narratives. My only qualm is that the title suggests successful escape stories, but many of the selected works stop short of the successful escape and only detail the unsuccessful ones.
May 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
It's hard to say I "really liked" this book, filled as it is with heartrending accounts of human beings beaten, tortured, and separated from their loved ones. But this is an important book, and one that anyone truly interested in learning about the brutal reality of slavery should read.
Sep 14, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
interesting but really couldn't get into the subject matter.
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book of the stories of the actual people that were in and survived slavery and the horrendous conditions in which they lived.
Sharon Zink
Nov 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is comprised of short autobiographical stories of slaves who tried to escape slavery.
Sep 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing

I loved this anthology of experiences of escaping slaves. Some accounts horrifying others triumphant.
Patrick Ryan
Mar 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful and vital collection.
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Sep 20, 2012
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Jan 07, 2016
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Devon Carbado is the Honorable Harry Pregerson Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law. He teaches Constitutional Criminal Procedure, Constitutional Law, Critical Race Theory, and Criminal Adjudication. He has won numerous teaching awards, including being elected Professor of the Year by the UCLA School of Law classes of 2000 and 2006 and received the Law School's Rutter Award for Excellence in Tea ...more
More about Devon W. Carbado...