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Narrative of Sojourner Truth

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  8,430 ratings  ·  273 reviews
One of the most famous and admired African-American women in U.S. history, Sojourner Truth sang, preached, and debated at camp meetings across the country, led by her devotion to the antislavery movement and her ardent pursuit of women's rights. Born into slavery in 1797, Truth fled from bondage some 30 years later to become a powerful figure in the progressive movements r ...more
Paperback, 80 pages
Published July 7th 1997 by Dover Publications (first published 1850)
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May 12, 2016 rated it liked it
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
Mar 28, 2011 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
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
Oct 02, 2007 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
Jul 10, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Talk about superhero. This woman is/was one. She came into the world as Isabella, one of many children born to Bomefree and Mau-mau Bett. Their owner was Dutch and so the language they spoke was low Dutch. Her story is heartrending, inspiring and while there is a sense of forgiveness in part, there is a rooted relentless remembrance that she claims as her mission and what she is called to forever hold up and out to any who would forget or deny.

I Sell the Shadow to Support the Substance.

Sojourner Truth

It is hum
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
Read in honor of the centennial of US Women's Suffrage. In The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote, Elaine F. Weiss points out that women's professional work experience made possible their work of getting the vote. Black and white women did the work. Some/Many black women also exercised the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Admendment to the US Constitution--even when and where black men could not exercise this right. Weiss speaks of a abolitionists and preachers as being amon ...more
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it
This was less satisfying than other slave narratives I have read. Actually, I guess, all of them have really moved me except this one. Mostly this is due to interference from the person who wrote it down. No doubt when Sojourner Truth told this story herself it was something to experience. The reporter so much as says this: But her saying this doesn’t let us experience it. There are even several parts where the writer confesses to leaving out really dramatic events for fear of embarrassing livin ...more
Jul 15, 2007 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
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
I'd like to read the real story written by Sojourner Truth please. Without any teasing about things that were left out to protect people's identities. I could also do without the religious sermonising. Apart from that it's a fine example of slave narratives that were white washed for people's palates.
mis fit
Mar 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
Phil Jensen
May 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
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
Monster Longe
Jan 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
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).
Antoine Dumas
Jan 04, 2016 rated it did not like it
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

“…she wishes that all who would fain believe that slave parents have not natural affection for their offspring could have listened as she did, while Bomefree and Mau-mau Bett,—their dark cellar lighted by a blazing pine-knot,—would sit for hours, recalling and recounting every endearing, as well as harrowing circumstance that taxed memory could supply, from the histories of those dear departed ones, of whom they had been robbed, and for whom their hearts still bled.
Cynthia Egbert
Oct 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-and-read
"There was no place where God was not." I don't even know where to begin to express how I feel about this woman and what she stood for and the conscious decision she made to accomplish so much with her life. She stands as one of my pinnacle heroes. The entire narrative is one huge quotation so I won't try and lay out all of the places I have marked in my copy of this narrative. But I do want to share one passage that lights me up every time I read it.

"Previous to these exercises of mind, she hea
I hadn't expected this book would be so deeply-seated in sermon. Religious texts are something that I struggle with, it's a personal struggle, it's nothing against the text, but my experiences just mean that I really find it hard to relate to sermons or religious texts.

And yet, I learnt so much from Sojourner Truth, or, Isabella, as she was also known. There were parts of this story that commanded my attention. Truth took a white man to court, after the white man illegally stole her son.

She wa
Denise Ballentine
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
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Sojourner Truth had amazing courage and faith -- What an inspiration. Her story deserves to be read.

Some of the religious aspects of her journey were weird (like cultish weird) but everything she learned about God she learned on her own, and faith was such an important part of her journey.

"I feel safe in the midst of my enemies, for the truth is all powerful and will prevail.”
This was really good and interesting. The language is dated and a bit too much God for my atheist tastes but standard in this type of narrative.
I own a digital copy of this book and listened to the audiobook on hoopla. I did not care for the audiobook at all.
Winter Sophia Rose
A Compelling, Fascinating & Insightful Story! ...more
Sarah W.
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was very good. It had a lot of details about her life. Over all, I thought this book was good!
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
The third slave narrative I have been reading over the past few months, the most religious one which depicts how the slave gained liberty through the formal abolition of slavery in the State of New York and how she moves on to be one of the most remarkable preachers in Massachusetts, attracting the religious and taming the hideous. In contrast with Harriet Jacobs's account, it doesn't really stick to the femininity in the matter of slavery and interestingly, it's written by someone else as if So ...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
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
Claire Baxter
Jan 21, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Jan 17, 2012 rated it did not like it
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?
This narrative isn't the most thrilling read. In part that is because of the style of the time, and it is because Truth is holding back. But it is worth reading simply to get to know the famous woman a bit more. The best passages are those about family, in particular, her relationship with her son.
Sep 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biographies
Chilling account of one of America's most clear~thinking, courageous women. Be prepared for parts that are graphically harrowing. A living testimony of human cruelty on the one hand and triumphant compassion on the other. What an amazing, amazing woman.
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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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