History, Research, and Current Themes

"The world needed John Brown and John Brown came, and time will do him justice." Frederick Douglass (1886)

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

New and Noteworthy--
David Reynolds' Biography of a Book: Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin
David Reynolds, our friend and fellow John Brown biographer, has published his latest effort, Mightier than the Sword: Uncle Tom's Cabin and the Battle for America.  Dr. Reynolds presented his new book on June 15 at the Barnes & Noble bookstore on Broadway and 82nd Street on Manhattan's west side.  A veteran biographer and historian of antebellum era studies, he noted that he had thought of writing the "biography" of a book and certainly Uncle Tom's Cabin is one of the most notable and influential works of fiction in U.S. history.

I will not endeavor to duplicate his remarks, since the reader can check out his recent Op-Ed contribution in The New York Times entitled "Rescuing the Real Uncle Tom" (June 13).

"The original Uncle Tom was physically strong and morally courageous, an inspiration for blacks and other oppressed people worldwide. In other words, Uncle Tom was anything but an 'Uncle Tom.'” David Reynolds
David Reynolds autographs his new book,
June 15, 2011, at B&N in Manhattan
(photo by L. DeCaro Jr.)
You may also read a portion of the book and listen to an interview of Dr. Reynolds on The Diane Rehm Show on American University Radio (WAMU 88.5: Washington, D.C.) on June 13.  Interestingly, one reader of the Op-Ed piece, James Tackach, an English professor at Roger Williams University, differs with Reynolds' thesis: "Unlike Prof. David S. Reynolds, I, and most of my students over the years, believe that Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom deserves his Uncle Tomish reputation. He refuses to escape from enslavement when he has the opportunity and dies praying for his tormentors."

What do you think?

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