book review: Liberty or Death: the surprising story of runaway slaves who sided with the British during the American Revolution
author: Margaret Whitman Blair
date: National Geographic Society, 2010
Liberty or Death explains the role of enslaved Africans who fought with the British during the American Revolution. From the forward written by former Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder to the epilogue, reader’s are reminded of the importance of freedom to all human beings and the risk they will take to obtain that freedom.
With the promise of emancipation from Gov. Dunmore, enslaved Africans took every opportunity to join the British troops. Liberty or Death describes the segregated units to which they were assign, the individual Black men who were their leaders and even the troops that worked without weapons to build an infrastructure for the British army. We learn of the fate of the Black men and women who fought with the British and how they eventually landed in Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone. The book is the story of Black men and women who were as determined, intelligent and as political as their White counterparts. Liberty or Death relates the achievements of men and women who during America’s fight for independence chose sides and fought for their own.
An added dimension is brought to the text through the reproduction of artwork depicting events in the book and offset type which offers explanation and emphasis. Documentation of Blair’s research is provided through a source list. An index and Resource Guide is also provided.
A former journalist in Washington, D.C., a teacher of English in Japan, and a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand, Margaret Blair has spent recent years researching and writing screenplays and books. She has also hosted and co-produced a history interview show for local cable television, and has taught creative writing at Smithsonian Associates, Johns Hopkins University’s Evergreen Society, and the Writer’s Center.
The book reviewed is a recent addition to my school library.
Many of these events are re-told in the fictional book, Someones Knows My Name which would be appropriate for older teens.