Harriet Tubman by Catherine Clinton
The Road to Freedom

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Synopsis

Who was Harriet Tubman? To John Brown, the leader of the Harpers Ferry slave uprising, she was General Tubman. For those slaves whom she led north to freedom, she was Moses. To the slavers who hunted her down, she was a thief and a trickster. To abolitionists she was a prophet. As Catherine Clinton shows in this riveting biography, Harriet Tubman was, above all, a singular and complex woman, defeating simple categories. Illiterate but deeply religious, Harriet Tubman was raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in the 1820s, not far from where Frederick Douglass was born. As an adolescent, she incurred a severe head injury when she stepped between a lead weight thrown by an irate master and the slave it was meant for. She recovered but suffered from visions and debilitating episodes for the rest of her life. While still in her early twenties she left her family and her husband, a free black, to make the journey north alone. Yet within a year of her arrival in Philadelphia, she found herself drawn back south, first to save family members slated for the auction block, then others. Soon she became one of the most infamous enemies of slaveholders. She established herself as the first and only woman, the only black, and one of the few fugitive slaves to work as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. In the decade leading up to the Civil War, Tubman made over a dozen trips south in raids that were so brazen and so successful that a steep price was offered as a bounty on her head. When the Civil War broke out, she became the only woman to officially lead men into battle, acting as a scout and a spy while serving with the Union Army in South Carolina. Long overdue, Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom is the first major biography of this pivotal character in American history, written by an acclaimed historian of the antebellum and Civil War eras. With impeccable scholarship drawing on newly available sources and research into the daily lives of the slaves in the border states, Catherine Clinton brings Harriet Tubman to life as one of the most important and enduring figures in American history.
 

About Catherine Clinton

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Catherine Clinton is the author of "Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom" and "Fanny Kemble's Civil Wars". Educated at Harvard, Sussex, and Princeton, she is a member of the advisory committee to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, and holds a chair in U.S. history at Queen's University Belfast.
 
Published February 2, 2004 by Little, Brown and Company. 304 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, War, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Clinton uses vivid language to sketch the broad outlines of their beginnings in slavery and their later careers as speaker for abolition and conductor on the Underground Railroad: “Isabella [Sojourner Truth] was tired of waiting, and broke the chains herself.

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Kirkus Reviews

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The author assiduously paints the region’s cultural background and helps us imagine Tubman maturing within it, but is nonetheless forced to make frequent use of phrases like “little is known” and such words as “perhaps.” Clinton persists, giving more or less authentic accounts of Harriet’s childh...

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The New York Times

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Best known as a hero of the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman has been the subject of hundreds of books for young people.

Jun 24 2007 | Read Full Review of Harriet Tubman: The Road to F...

Publishers Weekly

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Clinton has an extraordinary knack of compressing complex history into an informing brief paragraph or a single sentence, making this "first full-scale biography" of Tubman (1825–1913) a revelation.

Jan 05 2004 | Read Full Review of Harriet Tubman: The Road to F...

Bookmarks Magazine

The Harriet Tubman of our childhood imagination served as the only female "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, a clandestine network that helped black slaves escape from the South to the North.

Oct 29 2009 | Read Full Review of Harriet Tubman: The Road to F...

The Root

As Sernett shows in his fascinating book Harriet Tubman: Myth, Memory, and History, despite the fact that she died in poverty, every successive generation of African Americans over the past century has, uncannily, found in Tubman an image or set of images for itself, in a manner and to an extent ...

Mar 11 2013 | Read Full Review of Harriet Tubman: The Road to F...

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