"We are of opinion that instead of letting books grow moldy behind an iron grating, far from the vulgar gaze, it is better to let them wear out by being read." - Jules Verne
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Friday, April 22, 2016

UNDERGROUND RAILROAD: OFFICIAL NATIONAL PARK HANDBOOK



Published by the National Park Service in 1996

The format of this small book  (88 pages) is much like a small old-style National Geographic with three wide-ranging informative essays by Larry Gara, Brenda E. Stevenson and C. Peter Ripley. The pictures are excellent in that they are reproduced wonderfully and well-shot.


A notice from 1851.
Most importantly, these three essays are an excellent introduction to the topics of slavery, the slave trade (not just to the United States but also to the Caribbean and Brazil) and the contradictions of some of the Founding Fathers fighting for their personal freedom while owning other people.

But, the heart of the book is the fight against slavery - both political and practical. After all, it is one thing to say you are against slavery and it quite another to help a runaway slave that comes to your door and help her move on to another safe place.

The book documents the different strains of Abolitionism (Do you help fund the fight in Kansas? Do you lobby Congress? Do you advocate for secession from the slave states?) and the Southern responses to them as well as telling a good number of individual stories of escaping slaves.

Really, the only complaint that I have is the book's treatment of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. It assumes that the reader is familiar with the law and how radical of a change it was in federal policy towards runaway slaves. On the whole, it is a great introduction to the topic of slavery in the United States and the struggle against it. 


I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Underground Railroad.


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