Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown

Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown

3.65 (115 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Foreword by  , Volume editor 

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In 1849, Henry Brown escaped from slavery by shipping himself in a three-foot-by-two-foot wooden crate from Virginia to an anti-slavery office in Philadelphia. Twenty-seven hours and 350 miles later, Brown stepped out of his box to begin a new life. This is his memoir, originally published in 1851 in England, as fresh and compelling today as it was 150 years ago. This extraordinary narrative paints an indelible portrait of life in slavery. With a keen sense of irony, Brown examines the "peculiar institution"--from the hypocrisy of slave-owning Christian preachers, to the system of bribery that forced slaves to purchase the rights to their own belongings, to the practice of separating slave families with no warning. The story also describes one of the most audacious, creative escapes ever completed. A classic slave narrative, it makes for unforgettable reading.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 112 pages
  • 134.1 x 206.2 x 6.1mm | 95.26g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0195148541
  • 9780195148541

Review quote

"Newman's edition has notes that are not only useful and interesting, but as moving as Brown's story itself."--New York Review of Books

"Highly readable and moving in its blunt description of slavery."--Philadelphia Inquirer

"The reader who steps into the claustrophobic box occupied by Brown encounters unforgettable reconstructions of the horror--slavery--upon which America itself was built."--Chicago Tribune

"What distinguishes Brown's book is its incredible, though brief and uninflected, conclusion, involving one of the most impressive escapes in American letters."--New Republic

"Richard Newman has performed a most outstanding and admirable service in restoring this rare and compelling text to a new generation of readers. Brown's story calls to mind in our own generation the determination to achieve democracy by oppressed people throughout the world."--Henry Louis Gates, Jr., from the Foreword

"Henry 'Box' Brown's daring escape from slavery is one of the great creative acts in the struggle for black freedom. This is his story."--Cornel West, Alphonse Fletcher Jr. University Professor, Harvard University

"This long-neglected autobiography by a self-liberated ex-slave casts new light not only on the breadth of black resistance, but on the very genre of slave narratives itself."--Jill Watts, California State University, San Marcos, author of Mae West: An Icon in Black and White
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About Henry Box Brown

Richard Newman is the Fellows and Research Officer at the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard. He is the editor of Everybody Say Freedom: Everything You Need to Know About African-American History and Go Down, Moses: Celebrating the African-American Spiritual. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the W.E.B. DuBois Professor of the Humanities, Chair of Afro-American Studies, and Director of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard. He is the author of several books, including The Signifying Monkey.
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Rating details

115 ratings
3.65 out of 5 stars
5 15% (17)
4 43% (49)
3 36% (41)
2 7% (8)
1 0% (0)
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