Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Uncle Tom, the hero of Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, is generally viewed as a humble, even obsequious character, symbolizing African-Americans' internalization of their oppression. But, as anti-human trafficking activist Brock's vivid biography shows, Josiah Henson, on whom Tom was based, liberated not only himself but many of his fellow slaves. Born on a Maryland plantation in the late 18th century, Henson becomes an overseer and a preacher, for many years accepting rather than resisting white dominance. But when faced with the prospect of being sold apart from his family, he orchestrates their escape. Reaching Canada with his wife and four children, Henson becomes a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad and establishes a free black community, Dawn, in rural Ontario. He narrates his autobiography to a Bostonian abolitionist, who brings Henson to Stowe's attention, and she draws heavily upon his experiences in composing her novel, which Abraham Lincoln later claims created the Civil War. While Brock's breezy writing style, replete with imagined conversations between historical figures, sometimes seems at odds with the somber subject matter, this is nonetheless a moving account of Henson's life and a book from which readers will learn a great deal about the struggle against slavery. Agents: Jennifer Gates and Jane von Mehren, Aevitas Creative Management. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.