Review by Choice Review
The historical exploration and interpretation of American slave narratives has enjoyed a recent, long renaissance. Having moved far beyond Frederick Douglass, today's scholar is conversant in the myriad voices of the enslaved. McCaskill (English, Univ. of Georgia) enters the discussion through William and Ellen Craft. The Crafts fled slavery in 1848, and their narrative, Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom, appeared in 1860. Geared toward experts, McCaskill's book documents love, liberation, and escape, themes that run through "four extraordinary moments of the Crafts' public lives" from 1848 to the post-Civil War era. Built on archival and newspaper research, the arguments here also wind through the secondary literature on slave narratives. What is missing is a fuller discussion of writing and freedom--how the act of writing, an avenue recently opened by Christopher Hager in his Word by Word (CH, Aug'13, 50-6622), defined and shaped the Crafts' understanding of their liberation. One wonders too how the Crafts' story, which highlights the escape of a married couple, compares to other similar tales, such as the 1842 escape of George and Rebecca Latimer. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, faculty. --Scott Gac, Trinity College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
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