Customer Reviews for

The Known World

Average Rating 4
( 151 )
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(61)

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(38)

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(23)

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(15)

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(14)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

It's about slavery ... and it's about freedom

This book is about slavery and it is about freedom. There is a character, Alice, who we are told was 'kicked in the head by a mule' when she was younger. She chanted nonsense. She danced in the woods alone at night. People of the county thought she was crazy...
This book is about slavery and it is about freedom. There is a character, Alice, who we are told was 'kicked in the head by a mule' when she was younger. She chanted nonsense. She danced in the woods alone at night. People of the county thought she was crazy but, in the end, it turns out that Alice was not as crazy as people thought. The book tells of how people are sometimes able to escape the small worlds that hold them captive, a lesson for all of us as we all, at one time or another, have attempted to escape a small world of some kind, either a physical or mental prison that has confined us.

posted by Anonymous on July 29, 2007

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

The Known World

V. Shipley

It is said that you should never judge a book by its cover, but when just glancing at the cover of The Known World, a person can't help but be interested. From the cover, it is obvious the book is about slavery, but one could never guess how twisted the su...
V. Shipley

It is said that you should never judge a book by its cover, but when just glancing at the cover of The Known World, a person can't help but be interested. From the cover, it is obvious the book is about slavery, but one could never guess how twisted the subject of slavery can get.

The Known World is a story about slavery, not just the regular American slavery. The internal struggle of the book is really about the concept of free blacks owning slaves. Jones really plays with this theme through out the entire novel. He makes it seem as if he is unbiased on the subject throughout the book but his tone is otherwise. An atrocity occurs in everyone's life that owns a slave. The main theme of the book is anyone who participates in slavery is polluted by it and their concepts of justice and humanity become tainted.

The strange but yet awesome thing about the novel is that all of the characters are connected through a single character, Henry Townsend. Henry is a freed black, who was once a slave, which owns slaves. We are introduced to him in the beginning by learning about his death. He is not the only one. In the beginning Jones states, "In 1855 in Manchester Country, Virginia, there were 34 free black families. and eight of those free families owned slaves." Henry was a boot maker and was a slave for William Robbins. Robbins develops a fatherly bond with Henry and is reluctant to let him go. However, he remains close with him through out the entire novel.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading. History buffs would be especially interested because Jones gives you another side to a long complicated story. I had never even thought about blacks owning other slaves prior to the Civil war. This book will broaden any reader's horizons, as long as they are friendly.

posted by 245954 on March 24, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2007

    It's about slavery ... and it's about freedom

    This book is about slavery and it is about freedom. There is a character, Alice, who we are told was 'kicked in the head by a mule' when she was younger. She chanted nonsense. She danced in the woods alone at night. People of the county thought she was crazy but, in the end, it turns out that Alice was not as crazy as people thought. The book tells of how people are sometimes able to escape the small worlds that hold them captive, a lesson for all of us as we all, at one time or another, have attempted to escape a small world of some kind, either a physical or mental prison that has confined us.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 31, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A Must Read

    I found this book to be not only thought provoking but compelling. This book was not an easy read but very well written. I felt empathy for the characters but you are left wondering how did certain events change their lives for ever. I will definitely be reading other books by this author.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    What A Fascinating Subject

    The Known World follows the family of a black slave owner and their associates. This subject has always fascinated me since briefly touching on this in college. Apparently there was a black slave owner in southeast Texas. I have heard mixed reviews on the writing style. Personally I enjoyed both the subject and story. Jones does seem to write in past, present, and future concurrently, which can be confusing. However, I found that it gave instant insight into the characters and motives without revealing the storyline too early. I felt the culture of the South and various races were well represented. I definitely recommend this book

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2009

    The Known World

    V. Shipley

    It is said that you should never judge a book by its cover, but when just glancing at the cover of The Known World, a person can't help but be interested. From the cover, it is obvious the book is about slavery, but one could never guess how twisted the subject of slavery can get.

    The Known World is a story about slavery, not just the regular American slavery. The internal struggle of the book is really about the concept of free blacks owning slaves. Jones really plays with this theme through out the entire novel. He makes it seem as if he is unbiased on the subject throughout the book but his tone is otherwise. An atrocity occurs in everyone's life that owns a slave. The main theme of the book is anyone who participates in slavery is polluted by it and their concepts of justice and humanity become tainted.

    The strange but yet awesome thing about the novel is that all of the characters are connected through a single character, Henry Townsend. Henry is a freed black, who was once a slave, which owns slaves. We are introduced to him in the beginning by learning about his death. He is not the only one. In the beginning Jones states, "In 1855 in Manchester Country, Virginia, there were 34 free black families. and eight of those free families owned slaves." Henry was a boot maker and was a slave for William Robbins. Robbins develops a fatherly bond with Henry and is reluctant to let him go. However, he remains close with him through out the entire novel.

    I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading. History buffs would be especially interested because Jones gives you another side to a long complicated story. I had never even thought about blacks owning other slaves prior to the Civil war. This book will broaden any reader's horizons, as long as they are friendly.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2009

    Sad Book

    I did not like this book. I was surprised. The writing style was difficult to follow. It had important historical information, but I had trouble finishing it. It was a sad book.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 17, 2010

    I am not one to quit reading a book.........

    but I had the hardest time following this one I just gave up.
    The names alone had my head spinning.
    I keep saying I am going to try again but I just cant.
    My sister in law finished it and liked it but she wrote all the names of the characters on a piece of paper to follow with. Too much work for me to read a book and do that.............

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2006

    A must read!

    If you want something with substance and beautifully written, this is the book. The author writes with great imagery and I found myself fully engulfed in it. Not for those who are looking for something 'light'. If you want to read something good, this is it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2007

    This is a beautiful and thoughtful book

    Okay I know this book is long. I also know there isn't much action in this book either. With that being said this book made me think about the atrocities of slavery and the evil side of the human being. What Mr.Jones has created would not be considered exciting but what this book lacks in action it makes up for and surpesses in depth of characters and setting. Unless you really allow yourself to believe in the story than the many characters in this book won't matter and you will than miss out on some beautiful story telling. Mr. Jones takes a little fragment of history and manages to create his own world and his own masterpeice.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2005

    an established and intelligent look into slavery--an American classic

    I really liked Edward P. Jones' The Known World. I really didn't have a favorite character because the novel goes back and forth in time--the point being i got to know each charaster, bit by heartbreaking bit. I loved the way the novel brought so many stories together under the stronghold of slavery. There is an old slave named Stamford who chases around young girls. Moses the overseer satisfies himself by self-gratification in his spare time. (Yes, a story like this can be hilarious.)But yet there are paradoxes: Henry Townsend ,who the novel revolves around, is a black slave owner: John Skiffington is a sheriff that won't own slaves--well his cousin gave him a slave but he treats her as a daughter--but he enforces the slavery laws. There are people who act like they're white but they are not: Oden, the indian patroller and Fern, the English teacher. But there were chracters i wanted to get to know further--Augustus and Mildred Townsend, Henry's parents. Well to be honest I wanted to get to know everybody even further and didn't want to leave them alone at that last sentence.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2004

    Compelling and though provoking

    Much has already been said about the basic plot of this book, so I'd like to address the non-linear writing style...imagine yourself as a leaf tumbling down a stream, sometimes hurtling forward, yet frequently caught in little swirling eddies along the edges. If you relax and 'go with the flow' rather than expecting this book to read as you would wish, you will find it to be an astounding and seductive experience on several levels. The viewpoint of this book is equally fluid; through some magic, Jones has you seeing life through the eyes of whatever character he's currently focused upon. There are terrible, ugly, beautiful, sad, heartwarming things that happen constantly throughout this book and somehow, you are always identifying through the protagonist of the moment, whether this be a slave or a slave patroller, frightening as that might be. There is no melodrama here. Somehow, everything is just taken for granted, assumed...it is, after all, their known world. And, for a brief time, ours as well. We eventually come to take it for granted. We can look back with the smugness of time and condemn slavery and its consequential perverse social structurings. Yet a book like this makes one question our own 'known world,' the social structures and cultural practices we take for granted and assume we are powerless to change. I wonder what our descendents will find equally perverse here...probably our oil addiction which forces us to attempt to control countries half-way around the world rather than simply learning to make do with less here at home.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2012

    Michelle

    Loved this book! The author goes into the lives of so many characters, you get to see so many perspectives. The author draws you into thier lives at different times and then brings it all together.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 31, 2011

    Great for Discussion

    I feel this is an important book, though it is not, in my opinion, particularly enticing. I found the flow of the story impeded by numerous side anecdotes and a tendency to jump from present to past and back. The well-developed characters in the book, however, could provide the basis for much good discussion beyond the obvious topic of slavery and the phenomena of freed slaves becoming slave owners themselves. Hence, I feel it would be a great book club selection.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2010

    Oprah thought it was great, I thought it was okay!

    I thought this book had great potential. I liked it but didn't love it. Oprah said it was the best book she has ever read?! Hummm... I thought it was an okay book. This book is about slavery and a man named Henry Townsend, a black farmer and a former slave. This story was a look at slavery from many different perspectives. I thought the book was a bit hard to follow. I didn't know that there was a family tree in the back of the book until after I read it. The family tree would have been helpful early on. I was more interested in some characters a lot more than others.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Painfully MESMERIZING!

    This book is an EXCELLENT pick for a book club! It raises several points for discussion... From the various perspectives regarding BLACK OWNED SLAVES to the personalities and life history of the characters, this book depicts another painful aspect of slavery worth talking about. Edward P. Jones is a FASCINATING STORYTELLER. I came to LOVE the way he shares the character's back-story. His writing style provides incredible INSIGHT into the motivations of his characters and invokes the emotion to love and hate and understand why! I must admit it was a tough read to start, but once I understood his style I was ENGROSSED to the end. I would RECOMMEND THIS BOOK to anyone looking for a thought provoking and GRIPPING novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2014

    OUTSTANDING!!!

    This book, The Known World, is brilliant! The subject itself, though unsettling, is an eye opener to a critical aspect of our history.

    Beautifully written, Edward Jones has done an amazing job of crafting an intimate look at the lives of everyone harnessed by the economy of slavery and how each life did not escape unscathed.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2013

    I do not care for this book. I agree that this book is difficul

    I do not care for this book. I agree that this book is difficult to read but well written. I felt like I needed to take side notes just to keep up with the characters. I found myself skipping chapters about the people I didn't care about to find out more about the ones that I connected with.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2012

    Falcontail

    Awesome i feel so atupid

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2012

    Tigerjay

    She gets two sticks nd vines she puts the stick on either side of waterkits paw nd wraps the vines around it she sets a few poppy seeds in front of waterkit "dont walks around or run or it will damage the healing prosece" (cant spell) the poppy seed is for pain

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2012

    Alonepaw

    Then ill stay an apprentice here.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 20, 2012

    Very Disjointed

    I rarely leave a book unfinished. As for this one, it was like trying to walk in the mud, slow and tedious. Too much to follow to be a nice read. The author jumped around from paragraph to paragraph so that it made it unenjoyable to read. I did not find any of the history interesting enough to keep me reading (and I have a degree in history). PASS

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