Be Free or Die
Be Free or Die is a compelling narrative that illuminates Robert Smalls’ amazing journey from slave to Union hero and ultimately United States Congressman. It also gives fascinating insight and knowledge into the country's first efforts to help newly freed slaves while also illustrating the many struggles and achievements of African Americans during the war.It was a mild May morning in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1862, the second year of the Civil War, when a twenty-three-year-old enslaved man named Robert Smalls boldly seized a Confederate steamer. With his wife and two young children hidden on board, Smalls and a small crew ran a gauntlet of heavily armed fortifications in Charleston Harbor and delivered the valuable vessel and the massive guns it carried to nearby Union forces. Smalls’ courageous and ingenious act freed him and his family from slavery and immediately made him a Union hero. It also challenged much of the country’s view of what African Americans were willing to do for their freedom.In Be Free or Die, Cate Lineberry tells the remarkable story of Smalls’ escape and his many accomplishments during the war, including becoming the first black captain of an Army vessel. In a particularly poignant moment, Smalls even bought the home that he and his mother had once served in as house slaves.

Be Free or Die Details

TitleBe Free or Die
Author
FormatHardcover
ReleaseJun 20th, 2017
PublisherSt. Martin's Press
ISBN1250101867
ISBN-139781250101860
Number of pages288 pages
Rating
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Biography, War, Military History, Civil War, North American Hi..., American History, Cultural, African American

Be Free or Die Review

  • Trisha
    March 19, 2017
    A must Read.
  • Ann
    June 25, 2017
    Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.I'm happy to see Robert Smalls' incredible story told on a national scale. I certainly had never heard of him until I moved to Beaufort. I wish this had been a full biography rather than focusing primarily on the Civil War years, because while the author does a great job of putting Smalls in the greater context of the war, she gets awfully repetitive with information and hammers points so hard that they were distracting from the flow of the bo Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.I'm happy to see Robert Smalls' incredible story told on a national scale. I certainly had never heard of him until I moved to Beaufort. I wish this had been a full biography rather than focusing primarily on the Civil War years, because while the author does a great job of putting Smalls in the greater context of the war, she gets awfully repetitive with information and hammers points so hard that they were distracting from the flow of the book, which makes it feel like his life wasn't eventful enough to fill an entire volume (and it was!). Maybe if I knew absolutely nothing about the Civil War or slavery, I would have appreciated having details repeated so many times, but I have a casual interest in the period at best and I was still rolling my eyes at how many times we were told that slaves who escaped to the Union were considered contraband and not free (as one example). For such an amazing chapter in history, the writing felt lifeless and journalistic. I was left cold and I should have been enthralled.
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