Presents in their entirety 16 19th-century African American slave narratives, each accompanied by a preface, explanatory notes, and suggestions for further reading.
Slave narratives formed an important literary genre in mid- 19th century America playing a role both in the changing of opinion on the issue of American slavery and in the formation of the continuing themes and concerns of African American literature in general. The best known of the 77 published slave narratives is the work of , but Bland (literature, Rutgers U.) believes that many of the lesser known works are well worth studying and here brings together 16 unexpurgated narratives. For each narrative he provides contextualizing historical and thematic information. Among the more interesting entries are , the insurrectionary leader; the narrative of Henry Walton Bibb, a man who, after gaining his freedom, went back to slavery in an effort to free his mother; and the dictation of Lewis Clarke, who became the model for Harriet Beecher Stowe's character George Harris in . Bland has changed only what he saw as obvious errors in an effort to present the works in a form as close to the original published versions as possible. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)