Master Slave Husband Wife Master Slave Husband Wife

Master Slave Husband Wife

An Epic Journey from Slavery to Freedom

    • 4.1 • 157 Ratings
    • $14.99
    • $14.99

Publisher Description

Winner of the 2024 Pulitzer Prize in Biography

“A rich narrative of the Crafts, an enslaved couple who escaped from Georgia in 1848, with light-skinned Ellen disguised as a disabled white gentleman and William as her manservant, exploiting assumptions about race, class, and disability to hide in public on their journey to the North, where they became famous abolitionists while evading bounty hunters.” —The Pulitzer Prizes

Named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, The New Yorker, Time, NPR, Smithsonian Magazine, and Oprah Daily

In 1848, a year of international democratic revolt, a young, enslaved couple, Ellen and William Craft, achieved one of the boldest feats of self-emancipation in American history. Posing as master and slave, while sustained by their love as husband and wife, they made their escape together across more than 1,000 miles, riding out in the open on steamboats, carriages, and trains that took them from bondage in Georgia to the free states of the North.

Along the way, they dodged slave traders, military officers, and even friends of their enslavers, who might have revealed their true identities. The tale of their adventure soon made them celebrities, and generated headlines around the country. Americans could not get enough of this charismatic young couple, who traveled another 1,000 miles criss-crossing New England, drawing thunderous applause as they spoke alongside some of the greatest abolitionist luminaries of the day—among them Frederick Douglass and William Wells Brown.

But even then, they were not out of danger. With the passage of an infamous new Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, all Americans became accountable for returning refugees like the Crafts to slavery. Then yet another adventure began, as slave hunters came up from Georgia, forcing the Crafts to flee once again—this time from the United States, their lives and thousands more on the line and the stakes never higher.

With three epic journeys compressed into one monumental bid for freedom, Master Slave Husband Wife is an American love story—one that would challenge the nation’s core precepts of life, liberty, and justice for all—one that challenges us even now.

January 17
S&S/37 Ink
Simon & Schuster Digital Sales LLC

Customer Reviews

Richard Bakare ,

Truth is Stranger than Fiction

Ilyon Woo brings into the spotlight the most remarkable slavery to freedom journey. She does so with painstaking attention to detail. She navigates us through the harrowing journey of the crafts on one level. While, on another level, unearthing the political, moral, gender, and cultural conventions of the time . Woo reveals that the Crafts were not only escaping slavery but also the limitations placed upon them by arbitrary social mores.

For me, it is the revisiting of America’s history, with no parts left out, that particularly stands out. Woo exposes the reality of America as seen from the perspective of the Craft’s 1,000 mile journey and from various contributing and contrasting characters. It is a clear enough picture of slavery’s grip on the country that it could stand as the prescribed history textbook in schools. Specifically, in how it recasts the strength, resolve, and failings of the abolitionist movement.

This is a fresh contribution to the critical rethinking and telling of America’s history that will sit neatly on your bookshelf alongside “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson, “The Sum of Us” by Heather McGee, and “The 1619 Project” By Nikole Hannah-Jones. Each of these works asks the essential question that the idealistic vision of America was tainted from the beginning by not ending slavery immediately. As well as, can that vision be fulfilled by owning our sins and making right the wrongs. Each book impeccably thorough in its academic rigor and citations. Each likely to be banned by those fearful of looking the truth squarely in its face.

This is no light read, coming in at a solid 416 pages. The chapters are laden with imagery of the raw violence of the period, that will leave you distraught and mentally fatigued at times. Yet, there are moments of hope and inspiration as well. A complete book for me is one where you experience a mix of emotions while pushing your perspective forward. This book met that bar in spades.

Woo’s narrative style and careful use of perspective between the principal figures is a welcome approach. Especially, in the already crowded field of historical books. At times you will forget that what you are reading is the unequivocal truth for a remarkable couple and the accounting of the failings of a nation. Woo delivery on this challenge is a reminder that truth can be stranger than fiction. Along with the acknowledgment that respecting the lived experiences of others is a form of healing in itself.

One presidential candidate in the 2024 race failed to name slavery as a principal reason for the Civil War when asked. Woo demonstrates that slavery and its commodification of human beings was unquestionably the spark that ignited the powder keg. For that reason and the fact that knowledge is a freedom in itself, I highly recommend this book to everyone. When we can speak honestly from a shared truth, then maybe we can propose real solutions that can make America the shining beacon on the hill that some imagine it to be.

vacccccca ,

Interesting to boring

I found this book had changed from being an interesting account of two people seeking freedom from slavery that to a boring study on slavery. It had a significant amount of superfluous or excess side stories that were historical but did not add value.

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