Sunday, October 11, 2009

Am I Not a Man? The Dred Scott Story

About a month ago, blogging friend and author Tristi Pinkston e-mailed and asked if I would be interested in being a part of a blog tour for a new book that's coming out. I've had the pleasure of doing a book review for Tristi before and was pleased that she asked again. When she told me the book was about the infamous Dred Scott trial, I was intrigued.

One of the places that the kids and I visited on our trip last summer was St. Louis. Luke and I toured the Old Court House where the first two parts of the Dred Scott case were heard in 1847 and 1850. It is a majestic landmark in downtown St. Louis, overlooking the Mississippi River and aligned with the Gateway Arch. Walking through the very building where one of the most significant trials in our nation's history took place was humbling.

I tried to imagine as best I could the experience of Dred Scott, an illiterate slave, who challenged first the Missouri courts and then the Supreme Court of the United States, to be declared a free man. My imagination could not do the story justice, but Mark Shurtleff's, Am I Not A Man? The Dred Scott Story, certainly does just that. It is a riveting account of one man's courage and perseverance, and the struggles of a nation seeking its fundamental truths. Mr. Shurtleff, the Attorney General for the State of Utah has a gift for story telling and this was a page turner that I was reluctant to set down.

The book is 432 pages, the majority of the first 300 pages setting the stage for the trial. Mr. Shurtleff takes us on a fascinating journey of our nation's history. He engages the reader in accounts of the lives of the key players in Dred Scott's life: the illiterate slave, his devoted wife, Harriet; the noble Blow family who were once Scott's owners and later finance his path to freedom; Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, whose decision would return Dred Scott to the bonds of slavery, and his declaration that because African Americans were "of an inferior order and altogether unfit to associate with the white race" at the time the Constitution was drafted, could not be considered citizens of the United States; and Abraham Lincoln who was so abhorred by the atrocities of slavery that he returned to political life so as to fight against it, and whose stance against the Scott verdict would eventually propel him to the office of President of the United States.

The story of Dred Scott is a heart wrenching account of a dark time in our nation's history. Mr. Shurtleff does an admirable task of engaging the reader in the telling of this moving story, leaving an indelible mark in our hearts and minds.

14 comments:

Susanne said...

Sounds like a book well worth anyones time!

Robin said...

The title alone makes my heart hurt.

RIZZI said...

HI KAREN,
SURE SOUNDS LIKE A VERY INTERESTING BOOK. YOU MUST OF FELT SO GOOD, WHEN YOU GOT TO ST. LOUIS, AND GOT TO SEE THE LANDMARK WHERE IT ALL TOOK PLACE. THAT WAS ALSO A LITTLE PART OF HISTORY LUKE WON'T FORGET.
THANKS FOR SHARING.
LOVE, AUNT RIZ

Tristi said...

Thank you, Karen!

Anonymous said...

This looks fascinating. I'd love to read it. I'm heading over to Amazon!

Em

diana said...

i'm sure one of the reasons you were asked to do the review is that you do such a good job of describing a book and making us very interested in reading it.

i'll put it on my "to read" list but that list just keeps getting longer... thanks to great reviews like this one =)

Dandy said...

I've never heard of a blog book tour but its such a fantastic idea. Sounds like a story that would just suck you in.

Candace E. Salima said...

Thanks for doing such a good job of describing the strength and power of "Am I Not a Man? The Dred Scott Story". It is, without question, a must buy!

Kat said...

Hi Karen, yes I have two blogs now. the link I leave in here is for my personal regular blog. The blogger is my extra fun blog for Tablescape Thursday's and Out Door Wed, and then perhaps a Friday's Feature. You can use the link I leave in your blog to follow me back to my more private blog away from blogger. Most of what I talk about in my regular will lead you over to my postings in blogger too. Not that we got that out of the way and I hope I didn't confuse you with my two blogs?? some people don't have a way for me to leave a link to my private blog in their blogger comments box. Hmm that's strange. That books sounds like my kind of book. I love history! thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful Wed!

Joanna Jenkins said...

This looks like an interesting read. I'll add it to my list. Thanks for the tip.

And thanks for commenting on my blog. I really appreciate it.

Hope you're having a great week.

xo

violetlady said...

I am reading this book now. Great review, Karen!

Mac An Mhaighirtis said...

The framers of the Constitution,wrote and believed that blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect." They were considered Chattle (property that could be bought and sold for profit.) As cruel as this may sound, that was the law. Its too bad over 610.000.00 men had to lose their life to prove it was wrong.

Mac An Mhaighirtis said...

My Quote for the year,

"Man has master the Atom but ignored the sermon on the mount"

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