The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998

Book Reviews

the interviews and tell what is known about the interviewers.
In their preface the Bakers point out that the slave narratives "are filled with
contrasts and contradictions, truth and seeming fabrications, paradox and eva-
sions, reflection and exaggeration," and conclude that they must be interpreted
"with care and healthy skepticism." When we consider that the former slaves are
remembering back many decades and that the majority of them were children
during their time of bondage, we can see the necessity of reading with caution.
Nevertheless, these memoirs can tell us much about slavery as viewed from the
black rather than the white perspective.
In making these narratives readily accessible the Bakers have performed a
valuable service. This is true not only for historians but also for anyone interest-
ed in learning about the black child's experiences under bondage and the
details of everyday life for slaves. Food, shelter, clothing, recreation, folk medi-
cine, superstitions, and a variety of working conditions are described. Kind and
cruel masters and mistresses are portrayed; the brutality of many overseers is a
recurring theme. There are terrible memories of vicious punishments and com-
forting memories of the solace of religion and music. Forced sex and the callous
separation of family members are frequently mentioned.
The narratives and the commentaries are conveniently arranged in alphabet-
ical order. Reading these memoirs deepens our understanding of what it was
like to be a slave. Poignant illustrations by African American artist Kermit Oliver
enhance the experience.
Salado ELIZABETH SILVERTHORNE
African-American Political Thought, 89o-930 o: Washington, DuBois, Garvey, and
Randolph. Edited by Cary D. Wintz. (Armonk: M. E. Sharpe, 1996. Pp.
xiv+344. Preface, introduction, selected bibliography, illustrations, index.
ISBN 1-56324-179-X. $22.95, paper.)
By 1970, concomitant with the blossoming of black studies, there arose a
great demand for writings by as well as for blacks-for historical biographies,
syntheses, and analyses of blacks who were not only part of the American past
but also agents in that past. With little to nothing on the market to satiate the
hunger for information, publishers and historians conspired to do the quick-
est thing possible. More or less representative selections of the ideas of black
history makers were spliced together, an introductory essay written, and,
presto, a book was released.
Soon, however, the anthologies wore out their welcomes as serious scholars
cried out for carefully edited collected works and book-length monographs.
Then came scholars who gave black leaders the kind of attention they deserved
and made available a large body of their writings. With major projects of
detailed analysis, collection, and organization of the contributions of black
thinkers during the years of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era under way, well-
done anthologies which permit the study of black political thought in this cru-
cial period are back in vogue. Cary Wintz has answered this new demand with a

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117155/. Accessed July 25, 2014.