Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America Hardcover – September 4, 2019
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
"In this gripping study, Rice University historian McDaniel recounts the painful but triumphant story of one enslaved woman's long fight for justice... McDaniel tells this story engrossingly and accessibly. This is a valuable contribution to Reconstruction history with clear relevance to current debates about reparations for slavery."--Publishers Weekly
"Sweet Taste of Liberty is a masterpiece. Using an extraordinary archival discovery, McDaniel expertly weaves a compelling, fine-grained narrative of the extraordinary life of Henrietta Wood. . . . But this is not simply a biography. It also a work of profound analysis, layered with McDaniel's deep knowledge of slavery, emancipation, and the law. The book raises the most profound questions about slavery, reparations, and the debt that the United States owes to the people whose unfree labor constructed a great deal of that nation." -- Gregory P. Downs, author of The Second American Revolution: The Civil War-Era Struggle over Cuba and the Rebirth of the American Republic
"As America grapples with reparations for slavery, Caleb McDaniel unearths the astounding story of a woman who survived bondage, twice, and fought for restitution against impossible odds. In lucid and vivid prose, he brings us a chilling, inspiring, and timely examination of both the necessity and complexity of redressing historical crimes." -- Tony Horwitz, author of Confederates in the Attic and Spying on the South
"Henrietta Wood's quest to be made whole by seeking reparations from the man who kidnapped and re-enslaved her is a heart-tugging page-turner. With fidelity to the historical record and insight into the emotions that run through it, Caleb McDaniel's Sweet Taste of Liberty tells how enslaved women lived along the jagged lines that divided house and field, city and countryside, North and South, and slavery and freedom. Her triumph is a tribute to one woman's persistence, courage, legal savvy, and an enduring devotion to family-its lessons for us are timeless." -- Martha S. Jones, Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor, Johns Hopkins University, author of Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America
"McDaniel renders an enthralling biography of a determined, resilient woman... A well-researched, well-told story that also contributes to the debate about reparations."
"Sweet Taste of Liberty is a profound book that could not have been released at a better time... It is an account brimming with as much bittersweetness as it does hope."
"[A] superbly written chronicle . . . . rich with vivid personalities and unexpected turns."
--Wall Street Journal
"Through painstaking archival research, Bell and McDaniel have reconstructed their lives with such vivid detail, sensitivity, and riveting storytelling that you would think each of their figures left us whole autobiographies. For the simple act of recovering their stories, both books would be commendable. But what makes them essential reading is the larger questions they demand of us as readers: What exactly was the condition under which un-enslaved black people lived before emancipation--and what is it that they and their descendants are owed?"--The New Republic
"W. Caleb McDaniel tells a breathless tale with an ominously dark feel through many of its pages, because the monsters here were real. Yes, it's a complicated tale that races from north to south, but the righteous audacity that ultimately occurred in Ohio in 1870 makes it worthwhile, fist-pumping, and satisfying. Historians, of course, will want Sweet Taste of Liberty. Feminists shouldn't miss it. Folks with an opinion on reparations should find it. All of you will want to take it home."--Miami Times
"A deeply rich story... This beautifully written book is a must read."--Civil War Monitor
"Sweet Taste of Liberty uses the past to show how the open wounds of slavery still exist."--The Advocate
"Researchers, leisurely readers and those in the general public looking to be more informed about the history of slavery and reparations in this country, would be hard-pressed not to find this book compelling. It is a story that deserves to be heard and a conversation that needs to be had."--Bowling Green Daily News
About the Author
W. Caleb McDaniel is Associate Professor of History at Rice University
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Wood was born into slavery, but in 1848 gained her freedom when her owner and recent widow brought her to Ohio (a free state) and gave her freedom papers. After living there in relative freedom for five years, she was kidnapped and forced back to Kentucky (a slave state), taken to Natchez, Mississippi, and “sold down the river” where she was bought to work the cotton fields of Texas. She remained enslaved until a few years after the Civil War when she gained her freedom a second time.
Her story is told in Sweet Taste of Liberty by Rice University historian Caleb McDaniel who has weaved Wood’s narrative into a compelling account that raises contemporary questions that continue to be asked and unsuccessfully settled. One of those questions is about reparations for slavery itself. Ward’s story reminds us of the value reparations can have for the common good far into the generations that follow, not only for the individuals themselves, but also for the value of society as a whole. I’ll allow the reader to discover what that looked like in this case.
McDaniel’s epilogue is wonderfully crafted and put a brilliant point on Henrietta Wood’s story. Not the least of which is to raise the important question that after everything was said and done: Did she win? That is a compelling question to me when viewed in different frames. McDaniel doesn’t attempt to answer that question in the end. However, it is the one that will continue to keep the important conversations happening. My gratitude for knowing her story comes from keeping those questions alive and hearing them anew in the context of a narrative that is easy to grasp.
The prologue is 7 pages giving you the basics of the story. So you'll definitely know what you're getting as you read the actual book.
The center of the book has 12 pages of various black and white photographs. Including the unprecedented verdict in the case.
Page 259 to 325 are all citations. Proving how historically well this was researched. After the citations is the index which to me seems very uncommon for a book such as this. However, it's really great to have it if you just want to look up something specific mostly historically.
While there are bits of speculation involved in some of this story, it's never stated as fact, and to my mind always done very logically with the statements and proof at from research.
The epilogue contains further bits of the story, but mostly it tells of the writer's own journey of researching and writing this obvious labor of love, which is not inconsiderable, and worth reading.
The real amazing part to me was that despite how fully researched this was, it didn't read like a dry text book, or piece of historical literature (which is absolutely will be some day). It read like a meaningful if rather horror inducing novel.
Though it is engaging, it is not an easy read. It's too real for that. These atrocities were not only perpetrated, but in too many case, celebrated. In a time when a black woman was not only considered less than, but was most often considered expendable property, Henrietta fought back. And while she might not have won necessarily, she gave something invaluable to her descendants, that seems they've never taken for granted.
While I will never personally feel proper restitution was paid for the atrocities of slavery, I think books like this can help with making white privilege a thing of the past. I don't honestly believe our government will ever treat every person as human, at least in my lifetime. But I have hope for the future that with works like this we will get there someday.
Seriously, read this book!
In a case that achieved notoriety in its time, Henrietta Wood sued and won damages for her abduction into the antebellum South from freedom in Cincinnati.
If you like your personal history to be supported by a thorough grounding in the culture and history of Civil War era America then you will find plenty to like in this work. Thoroughly researched and documented, McDaniel explains all the circumstances that make the nearly unbelievable story of Henrietta Woods thoroughly credible.
The one complaint about this narrative is that it tends to a rather simplistic view of the antebellum South. All slaveholders treat their slaves as little more than chattel. In fact, it’s hard to think of a Southerner in this story who is not deplorable.
But the effort to speak for one of the millions whose stories were silenced and forgotten is a commendable feat. That it is also an engaging read is the proverbial icing on the cake.
Recommended to all interested in the history of racial relations in America or those who are simply Civil War buffs.