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The Underground Railroad

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Overview

By ones, twos, and threes, in the years before the Civil War thousands of enslaved people slipped through the night on their way to freedom, riding the Underground Railroad. Hidden and hunted, the escape of southern slaves to the North remains a compelling event in American history. Within the pages of this book are documented, in prose and elegantly articulate photographs, examples of "stations" on the Railroad, along with images of the routes, lives, and hardships of both the ...

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The Underground Railroad

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Overview

By ones, twos, and threes, in the years before the Civil War thousands of enslaved people slipped through the night on their way to freedom, riding the Underground Railroad. Hidden and hunted, the escape of southern slaves to the North remains a compelling event in American history. Within the pages of this book are documented, in prose and elegantly articulate photographs, examples of "stations" on the Railroad, along with images of the routes, lives, and hardships of both the "passengers" and "conductors."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Advantageously reproducing first-hand accounts and his own arresting photographs, Bial effectively evokes the era of slavery and its divisive effects on the United States." —Publishers Weekly, Starred

"As Bial says in his introduction, photography was not yet invented when many of the daring escapes on the Underground Railroad occurred, and because everything had to be kept so secret, few documentary records have survived. In his simple photo-essay, he tries to re-create the experience of the brave runaways and conductors. He has photographed the places and objects that tell the story: the rivers the people crossed, the plantations they ran from, the homes that sheltered them with a lit window to signal a safe haven, the secret passages and trapdoors, and the courthouse yard where the slave auctions took place. He also includes drawings and prints from the times and a wanted poster for runaway "property." The text provides a brief historical overview, with quotes from some of the leaders, such as Tubman and Douglass. The book design is handsome, with thick paper, clear type, and fine reproductions; there's also a chronology and bibliography. Like a museum exhibit, the stirring photographs help us imagine what it must have been like for those who found the courage to run and to help others." —April 1, 1995 Booklist, ALA

"Judicious use of first-person accounts and historical documents evokes the hardships that black people experienced under slavery and that eventually led them to seek out conductors who could guide them to freedom. Bial's well-composed, dramatically lit color photographs add life to the book, which is much more than a standard history. A map of the Railroad routes and an antislavery chronology are included." —Horn Book

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Advantageously reproducing first-hand accounts and his own arresting photographs, Bial (Shaker Home) effectively evokes the era of slavery and its divisive effects on the United States. Bial focuses on the history of the Underground Railroad, building on the experiences of both riders and conductors as he outlines the political climate and the moral beliefs that allowed slavery to thrive and those that helped bring about its downfall. He is adept at showing the emotions and convictions that drove activists on both sides of the issues; numerous historical engravings, newspaper clippings and documents effectively illustrate the heated debate. The book's most impressive quality, however, is the way it encourages readers to put themselves in the place of the slaves and those who helped them escape. Clear, ambient photos of the stations of the Underground Railroad, slave housing and artifacts (e.g., a slave's worn-out wooden shoes; posters advertising rewards for runaway slaves) provide strong, immediate images. Expertly lit and often strikingly composed, the photos create a sense of the hazards and terrors of traveling from station to station, often only steps ahead of bounty hunters, and of the determination and courage of those who used and operated the Railroad. A map of the Railroad routes is also included. Ages 8-12. (Feb.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"Advantageously reproducing first-hand accounts and Bial's arresting photographs," said PW in a starred review, "the book's most impressive quality is the way it encourages readers to put themselves in the place of the slaves and those who helped them escape." Ages 8-12. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-Bial's simple, eloquent text explains how the Underground Railroad worked and why it was necessary, as well as the hardships involved in the journey north. The black-and-white period reproductions are good, but Bial's full-color photographs are what make this title outstanding. Many of them show historical sites, including houses that served as stations along the escape route. Several of them were taken at night, and so readers see the places as the fugitives themselves might have viewed them. The simple picture of a child's abandoned doll is a wonderful example of Bial's talent. Although some background knowledge of the Civil War and the institution of slavery is helpful in understanding this book, it can still be read and appreciated without that background. This title could be effectively combined with Charles L. Blockson's The Underground Railroad (Berkley, 1994) to add insight into the harrowing experiences of slaves during the Civil War.-Elizabeth M. Reardon, McCallie School, Chattanooga, TN
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395979150
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/28/1999
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 813,362
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 1240L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.02 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.16 (d)

Meet the Author

Raymond Bial is an acclaimed photoessayist for children. Four of his books were chosen as Notable Books in the Field of Social Studies by the NCSS. He lives in Urbana, Illinois, with his wife and children.

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