3 out of 4 stars
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Charles L. Tucker’s Tears That Changed a Nation is a nonfiction book about Arminta (Minty) O’Banion, a former slave who lived to be 111 years old. Minty was born into slavery in 1788. Throughout her long life she came into contact with many well known figures in history. She knew the George Washington Family, was a nanny to Ulysses S. Grant, and worked for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s father.
Minty was one of the few slaves who was freed before the Civil War. Although she and her husband were given their freedom in 1816, they were forced to leave their children behind in slavery. Even after earning their freedom, their lives were not easy. The children that were born into freedom would not be able to earn a public education, it was difficult to find work, and they were still treated poorly by many.
Although Tears that Changed a Nation focuses on Minty’s life, it also gives information about the history, politics, and general sentiment toward slavery during the time period. It is interesting to read how attitudes towards slavery changed over time. This book covers not only what is known about Minty’s life, but also other information about the time period. I really enjoyed the appendix, which included information on each of the US presidents of Minty’s lifetime and what their views were on slavery. It was particularly interesting to see which presidents said that they were against slavery, yet did nothing to end it.
I really enjoyed reading this book, and seeing the time period through Minty’s eyes. Much of Tucker’s information came from old newspaper articles, journal entries, church documents, and other historical artifacts. Whenever facts were not available about certain aspects of Minty’s life, the author includes other information from the time period. For example, Tucker includes the popular games that Minty may have played as a child, or lyrics to songs she may have heard.
Although I did enjoy the book, I did find a few errors in the text. Wikipedia is cited in one section and spelled Wikepedia. There are also a couple of places with incomplete parenthesis. Other than these few errors, I felt as though the book was well researched, easy to read, and included many fascinating facts.
I give Tears that Changed a Nation three out of four stars. If you enjoy non-fiction books about the 1800’s, especially the Civil War era, then this book would be a great addition to your reading list. Other than the few errors, it was an excellent book.
Tears That Changed a Nation
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