From the Publisher
"This book, part of the Guides to Historic Events in America series, brings into perspective what the Underground Railroad did and how it operated. . . . Recommended for school and public libraries."
"Owing to the decades' worth of material analyzed here, this historical reference work will make a suitable guide and starting point for students and general readers alike. Secondary and other general collections should consider it for purchase."
"This is a moving and, at times, wrenching account of the trials and tribulations of slaves escaping along the Underground Railroad. . . . This book tells the history of this organization in a highly readable style by weaving personal narratives, contemporary newspapr articles, and various laws enacted to keep people in bondage before the civil war. . . . This book would enhance any American History collection."
Library Media Connection
"As an explanatory text that describes the Underground Railroad, Walters does an excellent job, creating a flowing and well-written narrative. In reference aspects, it provides a basis for study."
Walters (philosophy, Gettysburg Coll.; The Sane Society: Benjamin Franklin and His Gods) introduces the men and women who used peaceful means to combat slavery in America, acknowledging that "the literature on the Underground Railroad is vast.... [T]his volume aims to do little more than offer readers an introduction to the movement." He describes the "railroad," a system of escape routes for slaves fleeing from the South into the northern United States and Canada as "civil disobedience...against the abomination of slavery." The title opens with a chronology spanning 1619, when the first slaves were brought to America at Jamestown, VA, to the end of the railroad in 1870. The introduction discusses legal issues such as those relating to the U.S. Constitution, the Fugitive Slave Acts, and related laws. The remaining five chapters, each of which offers a source list, discuss many of the reasons for and means and personalities of the movement. The biographies section contains brief profiles of, for example, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Henry Bibb, and Daniel Drayton. The annotated bibliography has numerous print and nonprint sources listed. VERDICT Owing to the decades' worth of material analyzed here, this historical reference work will make a suitable guide and starting point for students and general readers alike. Secondary and other general collections should consider it for purchase.—David Alperstein, Queens Borough P.L., Jamaica, NY
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—A conversational tone makes this an engaging cover-to-cover read as well as a solid work for reference; it features gripping stories of fugitives and abolitionists within a factual overview. The time line ranges from 1619, when the first slaves arrived in Jamestown aboard a Dutch ship, to 1870, when the 15th amendment granted voting privileges to black men and the Underground Railroad was officially shut down. Beginning with a broad survey of slave resistance and revolt, Walters explains how abolitionists, clergy, and others felt that the "higher law" of justice, right, and freedom superseded unjust legislation, and this noble cause fueled support across a broad population. The Underground Railroad is described, not as a highly structured organization but as a functional system of coordinated efforts to move fugitives from one location to another. Primary-source excerpts inform readers that slaves became "packages," volunteers were "agents," and safe houses were referred to as "depots." Specific incidents, such as William "Jerry" Henry's capture in Syracuse, NY, where a mob of blacks and whites tore down the jailhouse door to free him, are fascinating and illustrate failed attempts to enforce the Fugitive Slave Law. Extensive notes, a chronology, an annotated bibliography, and primary-source material balance the narrative, and a general index points students to key people and events. A handful of captioned black-and-white maps and illustrations appears strategically throughout. The primary sources are the perfect length for supporting the use of informational text in Common Core Standards for both ELA and social studies.—Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia Jr. Sr. High School, NY