Thursday, October 29, 2009

Am I Not A Man?

An Illiterate slave, Dred Scott trusted in an all-white, slave-owning jury to declare him free. But after briefly experiencing the glory of freedom and manhood, a new state Supreme Court ordered the cold steel of the shackles to be closed again around his wrists and ankles. Falling to his knees, Dred cried, “Ain’t I a man?” Dred answered his own question by rising and taking his fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Dred ultimately lost his epic battle when the Chief Justice declared that a black man was so inferior that he had “no rights a white man was bound to respect.”
Dred died not knowing that his undying courage led directly to the election of President Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation.
Dred Scott’s inspiring and compelling true story of adventure, courage, love, hatred, and friendship parallels the history of this nation from the long night of slavery to the narrow crack in the door that would ultimately lead to freedom and equality for all men.

I got the priviledge of receiving an Advanced Reader's Copy (ARC)of Mark L. Shurtleff's new novel, "Am I Not A Man? The Dred Scott Story" I love history and love historical fiction. Now the thing about ARCs is this, they are books that have not had the final edit done, so there are mistakes. I did find mistakes, mostly punctuation errors. One big error was a wrong date that threw me for a couple of pages until I remembered that I was reading an ARC.

If you think back to your US History class from junior high or senior high school, you will remember that the Dred Scott case was one of the most famous cases in history. It was also one of the most pivital cases in the freeing of slaves. And a very interesting case. Dred lived his life as a free man for 2 years before his case was overturned and he was once again taken into slavery. He died as a piece of property, owned by another and he never ever knew the big part he would play in history. In my family history. In the ability for me to have Brandi as a daughter. Someday I will thank him for that.

As I write this review, I have not finished the entire book, but I am closer to the end than I am the beginning. This is not a quick read book, but it is a book that you want to read. Everytime I have to put the book down, I find myself reluctant to do so.

I started reading the book as I sat and waited for the drum line boys so I could take them to Marching Band practice. I was not happy when school was out and the boys got in the car. However, the story does not follow in a linear fashion. Mr. Shurtleff goes back and forth along the timeline of Dred's life. At first this was confusing, even though he does use dates to identify the time period. Once I got into the rhythm of the writing, though, it was ok, but a timeline, family trees or something like it would have been a big help to keep people straight. I will admit that there was a lot about history that I either didn't know or forgot. The parts of the story that were back story or history to set the scene sometimes were as slow moving as the mighty Mississippi. But when Mr. Shurtleff was telling Dred's story it moved along quite well and was very entertaining.

I was once again amazed at what our forefathers went through and what they did to procure freedom for us. And what Brandi's ancestors went through to procure freedom for her and the ability for her to someday live a life as my daughter and not my servant.(though I am sure when I am nagging her about chores...) This story is not all light and happiness, there is no sugar coated fluff in this book, so there are parts that are hard to read simply because life for the black man was hard and oft times not fair or right.

The research is amazing. The story is equally amazing and fascinating. And Dred was an amazing man and I wish I had known him. Through Mark L. Shurtleff's book, I can.

And you can too.

Discussion questions here

Learn about the author here

Purchase Am I Not a Man? The Dred Scott Story now.
Price: $24.95Publisher: Valor Publishing Group, LLC (November 3, 2009)Fiction: Historical NovelBinding: HardboundLanguage: EnglishISBN-13: 978-1-935546-00-9Product Dimensions: 6 x 9 inches

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1 comment:

Candace E. Salima said...

Thanks for the review, Sandra. You're awesome.