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The Narrative of Sojourner Truth

Olive Gilbert and Sojourner Truth

Book Overview: 

The Narrative of Sojourner Truth is the gripping autobiographical account of Sojourner Truth's life as a slave in pre-Civil War New York State, and her eventual escape to Freedom. Since Sojourner could neither read or write, she dictated her story to Olive Gilbert after they met at a Women’s Rights rally. The Narrative was widely distributed by the Abolitionist Movement. It was one of the catalysts for the rise of anti-slavery public opinion in the years leading up to the Civil War. Though Olive Gilbert's writing about Sojourner takes on a patronizing tone at times (a weakness of some Abolitionists), The Narrative of Sojourner Truth remains a moving and historic document, chronicling the struggles of African-Americans under slavery and the life of a truly remarkable woman.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .deed for him, in that last dread of hour of need!

The news of his death reached the ears of John Ardinburgh, a grandson of the old Colonel; and he declared that 'Bomefree, who had ever been a kind and faithful slave, should now have a good funeral.' And now, gentle reader, what think you constituted a good funeral? Answer-some black paint for the coffin, and-a jug of ardent spirits! What a compensation for a life of toil, of patient submission to repeated robberies of the most aggravated kind, and, also, far more than murderous neglect!! Mankind often vainly attempts to atone for unkindness or cruelty to the living, by honoring the same after death; but John Ardinburgh undoubtably meant his pot of paint and jug of whisky should act as an opiate on his slaves, rather than on his own seared conscience.

COMMENCEMENT OF ISABELLA'S TRIALS IN LIFE.

Having seen the sad end of her parents, so far as it relates to this earthly li. . . Read More

Community Reviews

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...more

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.

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 durin...more

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,...more

"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...more

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 editi...more

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 thin...more

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 t...more

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...more

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...more

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