Arts and Entertainment

Book Review: Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom



William and Ellen Craft’s Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom is an accessible, exciting, and true freedom narrative originally published in 1860.

By Annie McClure The Activist guest reviewer

Running A Thousand Miles for Freedom is a true story about the escape from slavery of a husband and wife named Ellen and William Craft. The story is about their personal journey to freedom after leaving behind their slave lives in Georgia. Ellen and William decided to make a run for it and leave Georgia to go to Boston in search of freedom. Ellen is the daughter of an enslaved woman and a slaveholder. Her skin color made it easy for her to pass as white. Ellen disguises herself on the journey as a white man which helped them in their journey. But even with this disguise, the two face a challenging journey to freedom.  

My favorite part about this book is that it is a true story. Everything in the book happened to William and Ellen Craft. Knowing that it’s a true story gave the book a deeper meaning for me. 

Because none of us were around during slavery, this book helps readers understand what it was like to be a slave during 1848. The focus of the book is on the details of how their escape, so the book helps readers understand what it was like for slaves to run away from their owners and the journey they encountered. In the preface of the book William Craft wrote “This book is not intended as a full history of the life of my wife, nor of myself; but merely as an account of our escape; together with other matter which I hope may be the means of creating in some minds a deeper abhorrence of the sinful and abominable practice of enslaving and brutifying our fellow-creatures.” Their goal was to help readers understand and feel a deeper disgust for the act of slavery.

The first major strength of this book is that it is a memoir. Knowing that the writer is writing about a true story gives the book a lot of credibility. You’re able to trust what you are reading. I believe you are more likely to show a deeper appreciation for the book because its considered a memoir. The next strength the book had was its ability to evoke emotion and sympathy for those who were slaves. William Craft wrote, “It is true, our condition as slaves was not by any means the worst; but the mere idea that we were held as chattels, and deprived of all legal rights the thought that we had to give up our hard earnings to a tyrant, to enable him to live in idleness and luxury the thought that we could not call the bones and sinews that God gave us our own.” This beginning part of the story shows just how the book works to evoke sympathy in its readers by sharing such a sad personal feeling they William and Ellen felt. My favorite quote from the book is “But I do now, however, most solemnly declare, that a very large majority of the American slaves are overworked, under-fed, and frequently unmercifully flogged.” this shows how William and Ellen felt about what they had went through. Feeling something for a book gives you a deeper connection to it; it makes you want to keep reading.

The only weakness I found with this book is that it can be very hard to understand the writing. The book was written in the 1800s, so, a lot of the language can be hard to understand because of how long ago it was written.  I found myself having to search up definitions of words quite often.

I would recommend this book to any students who are learning about slavery. The book shares a lot of good information and is a true story, which can help students understand slavery better. I would also recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning about slavery or what it was like to be a slave. 

I really enjoyed this book. I felt like it gave me a deeper understanding of slavery, which I really appreciate. At first, I didn’t think I was going to enjoy this book but, in the end, I did.

I would rate this book 5 out of 5 stars. The book was interesting, and I found it hard to put down. The book also taught me things I didn’t know, which I really enjoyed. The book was a harder read because of the language used, but the story itself was short, and I never felt overwhelmed by the book. 

About McClure’s rating system:

I rate each book I review out of 5 stars. All of my ratings are strictly opinion based. I base these ratings on whether or not I enjoy the book, how easy the book is easy to read, whether I learned or got something out of reading the book, and lastly, what the book didn’t do or did do well.

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