Saturday, May 11, 2019

Booknotes: "Pretends to Be Free"

New Arrival:
"Pretends to Be Free": Runaway Slave Advertisements from Colonial and Revolutionary New York and New Jersey by Graham Russell Gao Hodges & Alan Edward Brown, eds. (Fordham UP, 2019).

With the original 1994 Routledge edition seemingly difficult to find on the secondary market (there were no copies to be found at the three largest online bookselling sites when I checked), now is a good time for a new 25th anniversary reprint of "Pretends to Be Free": Runaway Slave Advertisements from Colonial and Revolutionary New York and New Jersey. Collected for publication by editors Hodges and Brown, "these fugitive slave notices are the best verbal snapshots of enslaved Americans before and during the American Revolution. Through these notices, readers can discover how enslaved blacks chose allegiance during our War for Independence." Given the era involved, this one might have been sent to me by mistake! It happens from time to time and certainly doesn't bother me. Those with at least a tenuous topical connection always get a Booknotes entry.

The 2019 paperback edition has some new features, as well. "Replete with a preface by Edward E. Baptist, the leading scholar of slavery and capitalism and director of a massive project aimed at digitalizing every escape notice, and with a new Introduction and teacher’s guide by Graham Hodges, this new edition makes this documentary study more relevant than ever."

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