Thursday, October 22, 2015

Review: Speak a Word for Freedom: Women against Slavery by Janet Willen

Synopsis: From the early days of the antislavery movement, when political action by women was frowned upon, British and American women were tireless and uncompromising campaigners. Without their efforts, emancipation would have taken much longer. And the commitment of today's women, who fight against human trafficking and child slavery, descends directly from that of the early female activists. Speak a Word for Freedom: Women against Slavery tells the story of fourteen of these women. Meet Alice Seeley Harris, the British missionary whose graphic photographs of mutilated Congolese rubber slaves in 1904 galvanized a nation; Hadijatou Mani, the woman from Niger who successfully sued her own government in 2008 for failing to protect her from slavery, as well as Elizabeth Freeman, Elizabeth Heyrick, Ellen Craft, Harriet Tubman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frances Anne Kemble, Kathleen Simon, Fredericka Martin, Timea Nagy, Micheline Slattery, Sheila Roseau and Nina Smith. With photographs, source notes, and index. (from the online description)

Review: I chose this because I enjoy reading vignette biographies and have begun to take an interest in current state of human slavery around the world. This is a good introduction into the history of the fight against slavery, told through the life and work of women who have taken up the fight. Starting with Elizabeth Freeman in 1781 and ending with Nina Smith in 2015, this book takes the reader from courtrooms to rallies to jungles to boxcars - across the world, telling the stories of the women in slavery, women who have escaped slavery, women who have seen slavery and chosen to not be silent, and women who have dedicated their life to eradicating it. The women chosen span nationality, socio-economic stratus, cultures, and backgrounds - but they share the commonality of not staying silent.
While the stories are excellent, and worth reading, the writing is simple and the stories arranged awkwardly - something that detracts from the stories. The book itself is heavy and filled with glossy photos that add much to the story. In addition to the stories, the author has included resources and more information in the end. In particular, organizations that work against slavery and ways to get involved. This is an excellent touch. I would recommend this for anyone who wants an introduction to the fight against slavery and worth the time to read. It's not a bad book for children, although I would say 10+ and an adult may want to read it first, as there are some plain-telling stories of sex slaves and a picture of a young girl's hands after they were cut off.

Note: I received this free from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers Program in exchange for my fair and honest opinion.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-1-77049-651-4
Date Finished: 10-5-2015
Pages: 205

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