Breaking the Chains

African American Slave Resistance

Introduction by Robin D. G. Kelley
Paperback
$16.95 US
5.46"W x 8.26"H x 0.68"D  
On sale Jan 30, 2024 | 256 Pages | 978-1-64421-265-3
| Grades 9-12
Centering Black voices and the narratives of enslaved people, this young adult history offers a thoroughly researched account with first-hand testimonies of how people in bondage were themselves a driving force behind their own emancipation.

Features a new introduction by Robin D. G. Kelley, black & white illustrations and photographs, and updates throughout.

"A significant contribution to American history."–Kirkus Reviews

“[Breaking the Chains] will force many readers to reexamine their assumptions about American history….Young adults will be fascinated and better informed for having experienced this book.” –School Library Journal, starred review


Generations of American history students have grown up believing that  enslaved people accepted their lot and became attached to their enslavers, that rebellion was rare, and that liberation from slavery happened thanks to the enslavers.

Celebrated historian and children’s book author, William Loren Katz offers a thoroughly researched look at the lives of enslaved people in the United States in Breaking the Chains. From their African abductions through their brave resistance to and escape from the ships and harsh plantation life to their roles in the Civil War, those given voice here show that enslaved people themselves were a driving force behind their emancipation. 

This compelling look at history is an educational eye-opener for history buffs of all ages, and offers clarity on one of the most turbulent periods of US history. This new paperback edition features a new introduction by historian Robin D. G. Kelley. 

“Katz masterfully steers the reader step by step through the astonishing forms of resistance, both active and passive. . . . powerful and authentic.” –Publishers Weekly
“Invaluable history.” –Alice Walker

“Katz masterfully steers the reader step by step through the astonishing forms of resistance, both active and passive. . . . this powerful and authentic collection will be welcomed by those seeking to reclaim the truth behind their heritage.” Publishers Weekly

“[Breaking the Chains]
will force many readers to reexamine their assumptions about American history….Young adults will be fascinated and better informed for having experienced this book.” School Library Journal, starred review

“He wrote about heroic black women, slave rebellions and antislavery movements when discussing such matters was dangerous and seen as unpatriotic,” –Jesse Weaver Shipley, professor of African and African American Studies and Oratory at Dartmouth College

"Using documented evidence from slaves and former slaves, Katz contradicts the oft-repeated contention that African-Americans were satisfied with their lot and did little to free themselves. The European slave trade began the day Columbus landed. Though evidence was often suppressed, the tradition of resistance can claim equal antiquity, as Katz has shown briefly in other books, notably Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage (1986). Here, using primary sources and direct quotes, he not only describes in detail the violent rebellions--Nat Turner's, Gabriel Prosser's, Denmark Vesey's, the 150-some that happened at sea--but also explores quieter methods of resistance and escape; how black slaves presented deceptively content faces while using family ties, religion, coded folk-tales and a sense of community to keep the hope of freedom alive. He shows that strong family values and education were prized, then describes the role black men and women played in the skilled trades, in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and in the Abolition movement. As usual, the author's narrative is clear, even-toned, logically structured, and neither dry nor lurid. A significant contribution to American history. Bibliography; index; illustrated with historical photos, engravings, etc."
Kirkus Reviews

“A major contribution, particularly valuable because the subject has been overlooked.” –John Hope Franklin

About

Centering Black voices and the narratives of enslaved people, this young adult history offers a thoroughly researched account with first-hand testimonies of how people in bondage were themselves a driving force behind their own emancipation.

Features a new introduction by Robin D. G. Kelley, black & white illustrations and photographs, and updates throughout.

"A significant contribution to American history."–Kirkus Reviews

“[Breaking the Chains] will force many readers to reexamine their assumptions about American history….Young adults will be fascinated and better informed for having experienced this book.” –School Library Journal, starred review


Generations of American history students have grown up believing that  enslaved people accepted their lot and became attached to their enslavers, that rebellion was rare, and that liberation from slavery happened thanks to the enslavers.

Celebrated historian and children’s book author, William Loren Katz offers a thoroughly researched look at the lives of enslaved people in the United States in Breaking the Chains. From their African abductions through their brave resistance to and escape from the ships and harsh plantation life to their roles in the Civil War, those given voice here show that enslaved people themselves were a driving force behind their emancipation. 

This compelling look at history is an educational eye-opener for history buffs of all ages, and offers clarity on one of the most turbulent periods of US history. This new paperback edition features a new introduction by historian Robin D. G. Kelley. 

“Katz masterfully steers the reader step by step through the astonishing forms of resistance, both active and passive. . . . powerful and authentic.” –Publishers Weekly

Author

Praise

“Invaluable history.” –Alice Walker

“Katz masterfully steers the reader step by step through the astonishing forms of resistance, both active and passive. . . . this powerful and authentic collection will be welcomed by those seeking to reclaim the truth behind their heritage.” Publishers Weekly

“[Breaking the Chains]
will force many readers to reexamine their assumptions about American history….Young adults will be fascinated and better informed for having experienced this book.” School Library Journal, starred review

“He wrote about heroic black women, slave rebellions and antislavery movements when discussing such matters was dangerous and seen as unpatriotic,” –Jesse Weaver Shipley, professor of African and African American Studies and Oratory at Dartmouth College

"Using documented evidence from slaves and former slaves, Katz contradicts the oft-repeated contention that African-Americans were satisfied with their lot and did little to free themselves. The European slave trade began the day Columbus landed. Though evidence was often suppressed, the tradition of resistance can claim equal antiquity, as Katz has shown briefly in other books, notably Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage (1986). Here, using primary sources and direct quotes, he not only describes in detail the violent rebellions--Nat Turner's, Gabriel Prosser's, Denmark Vesey's, the 150-some that happened at sea--but also explores quieter methods of resistance and escape; how black slaves presented deceptively content faces while using family ties, religion, coded folk-tales and a sense of community to keep the hope of freedom alive. He shows that strong family values and education were prized, then describes the role black men and women played in the skilled trades, in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and in the Abolition movement. As usual, the author's narrative is clear, even-toned, logically structured, and neither dry nor lurid. A significant contribution to American history. Bibliography; index; illustrated with historical photos, engravings, etc."
Kirkus Reviews

“A major contribution, particularly valuable because the subject has been overlooked.” –John Hope Franklin

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