I was very excited when I found out I’d have the opportunity to review an advanced reader’s copy of Utah Attorney General, Mark Shurtleff’s new book, Am I Not a Man? The Dred Scott Story. Valor Publishing has done a fabulous job of promoting this book and I wanted to see if all the hype and excitement about it was warranted.
About the book:
An illiterate slave, Dred Scott trusted in an all-white, slave-owning jury to declare him free. But after briefly experiencing the glory of freedom and manhood, a new state Supreme Court ordered the cold steel of the shackles to be closed again around his wrists and ankles. Falling to his knees, Dred cried, "Ain't I a man?" Dred answered his own question by rising and taking his fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Dred ultimately lost his epic battle when the Chief Justice declared that a black man was so inferior that he had "no rights a white man was bound to respect."
Dred died not knowing that his undying courage led directly to the election of President Abraham Lincoln and the emancipation proclamation.
Dred Scott's inspiring and compelling true story of adventure, courage, love, hatred, and friendship parallels the history of this nation from the long night of slavery to the narrow crack in the door that would ultimately lead to freedom and equality for all men.
As a writer myself, knowing how hard it is to get published, I wondered if Mark Shurtleff was just getting a book published because of who he was, rather than because he was a talented writer. I was pleasantly surprised.
Shurtleff draws the reader into the lives of his characters from the beginning pages of the book. I felt as if I were standing on the street observing the heart-wrenching scene when Dred Scott finds out he is no longer a free man. The setting of the book feels very authentic due to Shurtleff’s remarkable use of the vernacular of the time period. As I read, this made the characters come alive, as if I could hear their voices in my head.
This book is a heart-wrenching story about one of the most famous legal battles in U.S. History. It recounts the life of Dred Scott, a slave who sued for his freedom. The result was the Dred Scott vs. Stanford decision where the Supreme Court ruled that people of African descent were not considered to be U.S. Citizens under the Constitution. However, the story is about much more than a legal case. It details the journey of Scott’s longing to become a free man.
Am I not a Man? The Dred Scott Story, is not a light read. It’s definitely not just a fluffy story to escape reality for a few moments. In fact, this book made my own reality and difficulties seem small in comparison. It opened my eyes to the hardship and suffering that human beings in our, so-called, free nation had to suffer because of the color of their skin.
I highly recommend this book. Any time you can find a book that is entertaining, inspiring, and educational at the same time, it is definitely worth reading. Shurtleff’s book is being released November 3rd. Valor has planned an amazing launch party that evening from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the following location:
Barnes & Noble Booksellers
6 North Rio Grande Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
You can purchase a copy of the book online at Amazon.
Publisher: Valor Publishing Group, LLC (November 3, 2009)
Fiction: Historical Novel
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