Customer Reviews for

The Known World

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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
  • 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 4 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 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.

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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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  • Posted November 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Truly a heartfelt emotional read

    This story tells a side of slavery in America that is not told or taught by college black history professors. A powerful read that made me miss a few appointments because I simply could not put it down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2006

    WHAT HEART AND FEELING THIS ONE HAS!

    I feel, with this type of writing, that I am experiencing everyday living, just as in the book. I have to stop, blink and think of the mystery of being so touched by an author. Hope Mr Jones will write many more such stories.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2006

    Great

    this was a outstanding book it keep me on the edge of my seat when ever i would read it. it also showed how things were when there was not only white slave owners and there where also black ones to i would advise anyone to read the story that should last a life time

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2006

    A Compelling Masterpiece

    It took me almost six weeks to read this book because it is not a quick read and I am glad that I did. The story is so intricate that at times I needed to put the book down and just reflect on what happened. I was truly devastated when I got to page 220 when Henry Townsend was sold back into slavery. I put the book down for about two weeks because I was just so hurt, but with my hurt came the deeper understanding that this was just how many Black families were destroyed during that time period. The language in this book was so visual that I felt like I was sitting in the same room with these characters. This book is a compelling and thought provoking masterpiece. I cannot wait until me son is old enough to read, it will be a required read for him.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2006

    A must read

    I can't say enough about this book. The character development and the style of writing are unique. A true page turner. Everyone should read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2006

    Masterfully brilliant storytelling

    ¿The Known World¿, by Edward P. Jones I just finished reading this book. Never have I read such a magnificent work of literature. The plot, which in and of itself is nothing short of brilliant, pales when compare to the masterfully, and uniquely brilliant ability possessed by EDWARD P JONES at storytelling. I have read many a book in my life, and those of you who know me on a personal basis are aware of my passion for the classics, particularly Nobel Price of Literature laureates, yet, I most confess, I have not find an author nor a story that comes even close to the mastery displayed in this work. The characters come to life in every page turn they reveal their lives, their hopes, their dreams, their fears, their frustrations, their plights, their naked souls, their humanity, their essence. And they do it by grabbing on to your imagination and fascination and not letting go of it. Before you know it, you are envelope in their stories, their surroundings you are breathing the air they are breading, smelling the aromas they¿re inhaling, frightened by the thunders they are hearing, fascinated by the lightning they see, drenched by the rain that pummeled them, worn by the lives they¿ve been given. This is a story of humanity, presented in its bare naked truth. I found myself bewildered when trying to grasp how any one person could capture the essence of the human experience with such brilliance, and display it in such a way that lets you know he is just the messenger, the conduit, the recorder of the essential truth of each and everyone of the characters, in such a way that lets you hear their voices, feel their presence, bear witness to their naked spirits. Such as life itself, where you cannot tell what tomorrow may bring, what thought you may have, what passions, what pursuits may be your north, you cannot tell what will happen next with these characters, you can only be attentive and patiently await for what¿s next. This is EDWARD P. JONES¿S first published novel. I hope it¿s not his last, and I also hope he has not yet peeked, for if there are more stories of the human experience to be channel trough his mastery our modern world would be the victor. If so, I know he will not only one day achieve the coveted Novel Price in Literature, but he will be stoned with it. It will be thrown with abandoned at him. For this is what this price is about in my humble opinion, not only the narration of the human experience, but the ability to bring the characters and their circumstances to life in a way that allow them to be the storytellers on a one-on-one, soul-to-soul interaction with the reader. If you are into reading, you MUST read this book. If you are still afraid of embarking on the wonders of the reading experience, I¿m sure this work of art will change your approach for the better. Enjoy!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2006

    Real literature

    If you're looking for some quick easy page-turner, look somewhere else. This is a true piece of literature and one to be savored. Don't attempt to read this in one or two sittings--it can't be done with feeling 'forced.' This is an inspirational story and a great work of art.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2005

    You will not be disappointed

    I have read almost every book there is about slavery and this one was the first that didn't make my blood boil. It presented real people living the way they thought was right. The author's way of telling the story was truly unique and kept me interested until the last page. Slavery was real and did happen and it should be talked about in all the ways that it was practiced.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2005

    A MASTERPIECE

    This novel is quite simply, a masterpiece. The eloquent language of Jones and his ability to remove you from the present and place you in the past makes this book an extraordinary reading experience. I found the story so compelling that I completed the novel in a matter of days, wishing there were more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2005

    I can't believe these reviews

    I just finished reading this book and found it to be one of the most satisfying literary achievements I've ever read. Yes, the book is not an easy-read, but neither are Don Quixote, Les Miserables or even Wicked for that matter. Yet these are all books which have elevated their authors in my mind as some of the best ever. A book can be one of two things, entertaining or thought- provoking, sometimes both. If you want to be entertained, by all means, go and get a thriller by Dan Brown, a book by Stephen King or a tawdry novel by V.C. Andrews. I don't knock 'em. I usually read an entertaining book between every serious book, that way there's a balance. But for those that want to read something deep and satisfying: This book is not only thought-provoking, but it's also unrelenting in it's manner of putting the ethical and moral contradictions of slavery in a very unapologetic character-driven plot. Yes, he introduces tons of characters, and yes, he jumps around a lot in flashbacks and flashforwards, but he also develops the story and nurtures the each character in a way which makes us feel for them in the end. Many of the reviewers said that they didn't feel for the characters, that's because they didn't give the story a chance. You must give this book the appropriate time for it to develop the story and I guarantee you that when you read the very last page everything will come crashing together in a subtle, yet emotionally-rewarding climax. Some books are meant to be read-through fast, others deserve the diligence and attention to detail that the author pours into it from his very soul. Again, lots of characters and lots of jumping around in a non-chronological time-line, but it's all done with a purpose and it pays off in the end.

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