The life and life stories by Jean M. Humez.is a biography feature of Harriet Tubman, an American activist. The book addresses the problem with American history based on stories Tubman told about her life. Humez argues that the story about Tubman in servitude conceals her brave character, and the primary concern is to have a clear image of Tubman (12). Humez explains to the reader that Tubman was illiterate, and the purpose of the book is to harmonize what is known about Tubman by building on other written journals, articles, memorial, and diaries to create an in-depth biography about Tubman. The book aims to illustrate how other contemporaries viewed her and create a more comprehensive character building on how American history displays her.
The book fulfills the primary objective of informing the reader about Tubman’s character by explaining her written words and other people’s observations. Harriet is a prominent person with a lovable personality that has been published throughout American literature (Humez 23). Tubman is portrayed as a calm, intelligent, moral individual. Humez then creates a sad scene of a neglected African American woman by the Union she fought to protect and defend; this makes the book interesting to the reader because it honestly portrays the best and worst experiences of her life.
Though Tubman could not read and write, she used scholars to produce a self-authored life story by wisely selecting the authors through which she engaged and decided when to tell the stories and how to say to them. This lead to an interesting and complete understanding of the life of Harriet Tubman, as seen from her stories. Humez uses data collection methodology, biographies stories, and manuscripts that are analyzed from Tubman’s life stories. Tubman is portrayed as exciting, and a storyteller from her journals and article (Humez 63). Humez carefully examines Tubman’s words by studying biographies by other authors, and her words presented in letters to family and friends portraying her as a spiritual woman.
The book features Tubman in the antislavery theme tackled is a chronological account of Tubman’s life. It offers a comprehensive detail on Tubman’s life. Humez explains to readers about Tubman’s life during servitude, her role during the civil war, life as a conductor in the underground rail, reconstruction, and her final years (132). The book highlights Tubman’s personal life, and when she is mentioned, the first thought is a black slave heroine. Humez’s research details that were overlooked, like her life with her family and friends. A section called stories and saying brings an overview of Tubman’s life who is never remembered as a family member and is often lost in legends of greatness. This fascinating aspect adds to the reader’s knowledge.
The book features Tubman as a courageous African American woman in her time; she frees herself to an unknown promised land guided by her faith; she returns to free her family and later takes on a mission to free other slaves to safety. Tubman works as a conductor in the underground rail with help from other white abolitionists to free slaves. She plays a vital role as a conductor in the Underground Railroad. During the civil war, Tubman acts as a spy and a member of the scout army. Tubman is portrayed as a courageous African American woman and considered an abolitionist (Humez 76). The style of writing is formal and investigative research.
Critique of the Book
The book fails to portray originality; the words used are derived from the outside sources Humez collected. Minimal changes are made from the narrator’s original words. A scholarly article that is a source used in his book states that Tubman was illiterate, and literate authors wrote the biography books about her, she carefully collaborated with them to write about the stories she shared. Humez provides Tubman’s biography and warns that the authors would have possibly made minimal changes.
The book lacks the aspect of narration, but Humez’s extensive research documents Tubman’s relationship with other abolitionists of slavery-like Abraham Lincoln, Sojourner Truth, and other nascent women’s movement. Tubman prayed and sung in public, and this aspect is well written about Tubman. Humez’s aim from the research is to reveal to the public the struggles pain and silent articulation of Tubman. Humez achieves this by bringing together histories and voices by Tubman’s surrogate. The books document section reflects ten years of research, which indicate well-analyzed research. The book is well researched and analyzed, making it an essential resource to scholars’ students and other readers interested in Tubman’s life.
The most significant strength is that the book is a collection well researched on Tubman’s life and her stories. Humez creates a more comprehensive and clear picture to the reader on Tubman than any other author. The events and stories are organized in chronological order of public appearances and testimonies. The book fulfills the reader’s curiosity about what made Tubman as an African American slave act as a brave man and achieves her dreams. The book has left a gap for further research; the author presents to the reader only the core stories of Tubman’s life. Humez carefully writes on the facts with minimal embellishment and fails in proper narration technique; the book may not be attractive to general readers who love beautifully illustrated stories. Humez acknowledges the need for building in his research by admitting that his retelling of Tubman’s life story cannot be definitive.
The book features great quotes that Tubman’s letters reveal her opinion on different issues. When Tubman succeeded in the river raid in California in her letter to family, she writes that she would never wear a long dress in a similar mission, but she would not resist having one. The life stories revealed the talents of Tubman as a storyteller, singer, performer, and spiritual woman. Humez’s development of Tubman’s character through a vivid explanation of Tubman, unlike other narratives that highlighted her religious beliefs or racial interaction. Humez, through research, integrates the political aspects, her life values, racial and cultural views.
The book is about Harriet Tubman but is enriched with acts of courage, resilience, and solidarity in harsh times. The chapters provide an exciting insight to the reader because it reveals the tricks by Tubman during the rescue missions. The chapter portrays the courage, resilience, wisdom, and humor. When Harriet heard men talking about her, she pretended to be reading a book that she carried to avoid capture. The men thought it was not Tubman because Harriet was illiterate. The interesting part is where Harriet hoped she held the book right.
Humez points out that the whites and blacks well-regarded Tubman, and gave her legendary role as a hero. She never had the luxury of economic stability (Humez 68) and lived in misery. It is the first book to include a list of Tubman’s life tales, and add a theoretical context for such stories beyond merely simplifying her life to stories told to children. Humez admits that his research is not authoritative; he believes that his book would motivate people to pursue a study on Tubman (8). Since the book was released in 2003, two more biographies have been written on Tubman
The outcome is an insightful account that describes the historical shapes that influenced Tubman’s life while looking closely at Tubman’s biographical details. Recognizing the coherence between iconography and history, Humez tries to find the borders between the two, and therefore sketches a possible description of Tubman’s life. For example, in her explanation of Tubman’s escape, Humez compared early sources that say that Tubman was aided in her escape by a white woman with later reports that portrayed Tubman as having fled slavery on her own, driven by the North Star.
The book is well researched, and the stories are a well-grounded interpretation of Tubman. The book helps the reader comprehensively understand Tubman’s life. The book is resourceful, but some stories seemed repeated. The stories about Tubman in servitude are in most last chapter. Tubman was a legend, and most stories highlight her heroism. Through extensive research, the book highlights her personal life. The book is a revelation for the reader’s curious mind.
Humez, Jean M. Harriet Tubman: The Life And The Life Stories. University Of Wisconsin Press, 2004, p. 464.
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