The Road to Dawn
A major literary moment: after being lost to history for more than a century, The Road to Dawn uncovers the incredible story of the real-life slave who inspired Uncle Tom's Cabin.-He rescued 118 enslaved people-He won a medal at the first World's Fair in London-Queen Victoria invited him to Windsor Castle-Rutherford B. Hayes entertained him at the White House-He helped start a freeman settlement, called Dawn, that was known as one of the final stops on the Underground Railroad-He was immortalized in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, the novel that Abraham Lincoln jokingly blamed for sparking the Civil WarBut before all this, Josiah Henson was brutally enslaved for more than forty years.Author-filmmaker Jared A. Brock retraces Henson's 3,000+ mile journey from slavery to freedom and re-introduces the world to a forgotten figure of the Civil War era, along with his accompanying documentary narrated by Hollywood actor Danny Glover. The Road to Dawn is a ground-breaking biography lauded by leaders at the NAACP, the Smithsonian, senators, authors, professors, the President of Mauritius, and the 21st Prime Minister of Canada, and will no doubt restore a hero of the abolitionist movement to his rightful place in history.

The Road to Dawn Details

TitleThe Road to Dawn
Author
ReleaseMay 15th, 2018
PublisherPublicAffairs
ISBN-139781541773929
Rating
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Biography, Military History, Civil War, Historical

The Road to Dawn Review

  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    'The Road to Dawn' was a good read, a reminder of how distorted humankind's perception of justice can be combined with the inspiring life of a great man.The style of the book is easy to read, but obviously thoroughly researched, with lots of references and footnotes to add extra information and clarify accuracy. It follows the life of Josiah Henson, a black slave whose character was part of the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom. I appreciated the honesty with which his story was 'The Road to Dawn' was a good read, a reminder of how distorted humankind's perception of justice can be combined with the inspiring life of a great man.The style of the book is easy to read, but obviously thoroughly researched, with lots of references and footnotes to add extra information and clarify accuracy. It follows the life of Josiah Henson, a black slave whose character was part of the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom. I appreciated the honesty with which his story was told - the author didn't glorify him or avoid inclusion of his mistakes and shortcomings, but he painted a picture of a man who had a heart for his fellows, a compassion and noble ambition for those mistreated, a respect for others, and a thankfulness for the opportunities he had in life. It was inspiring to read of his endless labours - speaking, traveling, fundraising, and at home - and yet none of them were for the benefit of himself. His faith was the core of his life.It was also interesting to learn more about 'Uncle Tom's Cabin,' the statistics around its publication and the impact it had to raise awareness and bring sympathy. I really appreciated the author's epilogue and comparison to present day slavery in all its forms. It was sobering, but refreshing to hear someone speak the truth instead of glibly saying slavery ended years ago. His call to honour Josiah Henson was. It was also cool to see how the title was woven into the story, right up until the end.Personally, I was inspired by this story to be the person that steps out for others, to live like God is real and lives matter, and to have a greater appreciation for the freedom I enjoy. It wasn't an easy read - there's violence and hard to swallow facts, but it was a good reminder. There were a few rare uses of minor swear words, if that offends anyone. Overall, I'm glad to have read this book and learned more about history and the man Josiah Henson. I'm grateful to the author for providing me a free copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.
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  • Anna
    January 1, 1970
    3.5An interesting and at times sad story as most slave histories are.I was somewhat put off at the end by the authors insertion of his own political agenda.
  • Tori Samar
    January 1, 1970
    As someone who really enjoyed reading Uncle Tom's Cabin, I appreciated reading about the real-life man who was the inspiration for Uncle Tom. Josiah Henson endured horrific treatment as a slave; his life as a freed man also contained its own share of difficulties. Though not without faults, Josiah demonstrated faith, character, courage, and endurance both in his slavery and in his freedom. The narrative in the second half of the book loses its way at times in a sea of names and details. Neverthe As someone who really enjoyed reading Uncle Tom's Cabin, I appreciated reading about the real-life man who was the inspiration for Uncle Tom. Josiah Henson endured horrific treatment as a slave; his life as a freed man also contained its own share of difficulties. Though not without faults, Josiah demonstrated faith, character, courage, and endurance both in his slavery and in his freedom. The narrative in the second half of the book loses its way at times in a sea of names and details. Nevertheless, I found the book to be very well-written overall. At the end of the book, the biographer also makes some comments and suggestions grounded in a particular ideology. Whether his statements have merit is something I choose not to discuss in this review, since the book and my review are ultimately focused on Josiah Henson, but I do at least think readers should be aware.
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  • Bonnye Reed
    January 1, 1970
    GNab This Biography of Josiah Henson, a man who proved the ideal to pattern her hero in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, takes up where that classic leaves off. Josiah, though not able to read or write until he was an adult, managed to enhance the lives of nearly everyone he met. He managed the marketing and the fields for his owner for years, and once he and his family escaped and made their way to Canada he took that innate intelligence and used it to help other blacks make the trans GNab This Biography of Josiah Henson, a man who proved the ideal to pattern her hero in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, takes up where that classic leaves off. Josiah, though not able to read or write until he was an adult, managed to enhance the lives of nearly everyone he met. He managed the marketing and the fields for his owner for years, and once he and his family escaped and made their way to Canada he took that innate intelligence and used it to help other blacks make the transition into an independent life. I love that he was able to do the World's Fair in London, and travel all over the US and Canada preaching his common-sense approach to surviving as independent, self reliant persons in a world of whites. I especially loved the school at Dawn. Think what this man could have achieved if he had been allowed an education! This is a book I will treasure, and will keep in my research shelf. Jared A. Brock is an author I will follow. I received a free electronic copy of this biography from Netgalley, Jared A. Brock, and Perseus Books, PublicAffairs, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. pub date May 15, 2018Perseus Books, PublicAffairs
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  • Jennifer Hughes
    January 1, 1970
    I saw this fascinating documentary of the same name recently and wanted to read the book behind it. I recommend if you are interested in Josiah Henson that you read the book first. The movie ends when Josiah escapes to Canada, and there's a feeling of a kind of "happy ever after," which was far from the case. Josiah escaped slavery at age 45 and didn't die until he was over 90. He had another whole life as a free man which was fascinating and complicated.I'm in awe of Josiah Henson and his forti I saw this fascinating documentary of the same name recently and wanted to read the book behind it. I recommend if you are interested in Josiah Henson that you read the book first. The movie ends when Josiah escapes to Canada, and there's a feeling of a kind of "happy ever after," which was far from the case. Josiah escaped slavery at age 45 and didn't die until he was over 90. He had another whole life as a free man which was fascinating and complicated.I'm in awe of Josiah Henson and his fortitude, determination, and faith. What an incredible example of surviving and remaining positive against all odds. I'm so glad I read "Uncle Tom's Cabin" this summer, because it figures prominently into this biography. (See my review here.) Harriet Beecher Stowe based the character of Tom on Josiah Henson, and learning about his real life and the broader times and culture here gave me a deeper and richer understanding of the bigger picture. I knew UTC was popular, but I don't think I really realized until this book how great an influence it had on swaying politics--even changing Lincoln's mind--leading to the eventual dismantling of legal slavery in the US. It made Harriet Beecher Stowe into a lightning rod for criticism, but she never wavered in standing for what she knew was right. She was just one person, but she made a huge difference in the world. I believe we owe her a great debt--and if you haven't read UTC, you owe it to yourself to read it. Harriet Beecher Stowe and Josiah Henson are my new heroes. Seeing all they did to rescue people inspires me to continue their work today, raising awareness for and helping to fund Operation Underground Railroad or other worthy organizations that rescue trafficked children and adults. Someday on the other side, I hope to shake the hands of these abolitionist pioneers and not be ashamed that I didn't do more to help enslaved people in our modern age.The next thing I want to do is re-watch that excellent movie "Lincoln" from several years ago to view it with my new understanding of what led up to that pivotal moment that changed the course of our nation. I'm also interested in reading some slave narratives from contemporaries of Josiah.There are a few pages at the end that I thought were exceptionally good. Letting the author speak for himself:"There lingers a temptation to make a tenuous connection between Josiah Henson and the end of slavery. If he was the inspiration for Uncle Tom's Cabin, and the novel sparked the Civil War, and the war led to emancipation, then did not Josiah's story lead to freedom for the slaves?Of course, no one person, no one story, no one book sparked the Civil War. But Josiah's story represents one of millions of similar stories. He just happened to be one of the very few 'lucky' ones who, by courage and chance, managed to live to tell his tale." And:"Neither have we seen the global end of slavery and indentured servitude. Indeed, the 'peculiar institution' still exists in nations such as Mauritania. Six modern nations (India, China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, North Korea, and Russia) each enslave more than one million people, and sixteen nations still use forced or child labor to produce cotton. W.E.B. Du Bois is also prescient on this point: 'Most men today cannot conceive of a freedom that does not involve somebody's slavery.'" pp 252-253I highly recommend this book. I believe you'll enjoy it!
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  • North Landesman
    January 1, 1970
    Five stars for the first hundred and fifty pages. His flight from slavery and his setting up a refuge for freed slaves and becoming a preacher is fascinating. I did not need 100 pages of internal school politics. The book should have been much, much shorter.
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  • Debbie
    January 1, 1970
    "The Road to Dawn" is a biography about Josiah Henson, who lived from 1789 to 1883. He was born a slave in Maryland and remained a slave for 41 years. In real danger of being sold to a brutal master in the Deep South, he ran away to Canada with his wife and four young children. This was before the Underground Railroad, so he had to forge his own way north with occasional help from kindly strangers. As a preacher concerned for his fellow ex-slaves, Josiah raised money and convinced other ex-slave "The Road to Dawn" is a biography about Josiah Henson, who lived from 1789 to 1883. He was born a slave in Maryland and remained a slave for 41 years. In real danger of being sold to a brutal master in the Deep South, he ran away to Canada with his wife and four young children. This was before the Underground Railroad, so he had to forge his own way north with occasional help from kindly strangers. As a preacher concerned for his fellow ex-slaves, Josiah raised money and convinced other ex-slaves to build a town (Dawn) with a school (British American Institute) to help former slaves build a new, prosperous life. He created a successful farm out of wilderness, preached a circuit, encouraged the town's development, raised funds for the school, dictated a popular memoir, and told many famous people (including Harriet Beecher Stowe) his story and about the horrors of slavery.The author used Josiah Henson's memoirs, newspaper articles, lawsuit records, and such to find details about his life. In addition to talking about Josiah's time as a slave, the author included stories about how cruel slavery could be in general. Even once free, Josiah had a hard life as people who resented his influence and his methods of helping others repeatedly tried to ruin his reputation. The author focused on Josiah's fundraising tours and the battles waged over who got to run the British American Institute--which Josiah never did, though he raised funds for it.The author also talked about Harriet Beecher Stowe's books and the Civil War. Though Stowe loosely modeled Uncle Tom on Josiah Henson, Josiah's life was different than the character's in many ways. I realized this, but I also had expected an inspirational story. Instead, the first part was hard to read because the author wanted to paint a vivid, graphic picture of the torture slaves sometimes endured. The second part was just depressing. Rather than focusing on all the good done, it focused on a good man being torn down while giving his all to help others. Overall, I'd recommend this book, but just realize that the whole thing is a sad story.I received a free ebook review copy of this book from the publisher.
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  • Luke
    January 1, 1970
    While this biography is interesting I was disappointed that a biography of a pastor would have so little content that addressed the spiritual aspects of his life. If the amount of information that addressed his financial issues or legal issues were replaced with his spiritual life this book would have been much more in line with my expectations. Perhaps his inability to read and write has caused much of that material to be lost?
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  • Priscilla A Hardy
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent!!One of the best books I've ever read on civil war history. Josiah Henson' s life story led to Harriett Beecher Stow writing Uncle Tom's Cabin. She eventually discussed his life with President Lincoln and helped him then make decision which led to the Emancipation Proclamation. Josiah was a slave brutally beaten, of tremendous emotional and spiritual strength despite not learning to read until his 40's. Rings of current racist issues we are so faced with today.
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  • Grace
    January 1, 1970
    Listened to Audible version, and was very moved by this slave’s amazing, faith-filled life.
  • Jillian
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating story of a man who history has forgotten. Not the best writing but still an interesting books. 3 stars is for the poor writing.
  • William Monaco
    January 1, 1970
    A very interesting story that grabbed my attention early and then got lost in the weeds of managing Dawn and the BAI. Also, I didn't find Josiah's connection to Uncle Tom's Cabin that compelling nor did he make the case successfully that his story sparked Beecher Stowe's novel or the Civil War. Really turned off by the ending where he makes grandiose, unsubstantiated claims (like we may still have slavery if it weren't for Uncle Tom's Cabin and the invention of machines to help with agriculture) A very interesting story that grabbed my attention early and then got lost in the weeds of managing Dawn and the BAI. Also, I didn't find Josiah's connection to Uncle Tom's Cabin that compelling nor did he make the case successfully that his story sparked Beecher Stowe's novel or the Civil War. Really turned off by the ending where he makes grandiose, unsubstantiated claims (like we may still have slavery if it weren't for Uncle Tom's Cabin and the invention of machines to help with agriculture) and just the flat out historical inaccuracy that President Andrew Johnson's administration got the 13th amendment passed through the House of Representatives in January of 1865. Almost dropped it to 2 stars because of that.
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  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    I kept wishing this would be made into a spectacular movie but then saw a reviewer below mention that there was a documentary. This is documenting that is easy to read and makes one wish more attention would be paid to this life of Josiah Henson. How he lasted into his 90's after many beatings in his 41 years as a slave and then not only got to Canada but got his wife there, made a life for his family AND WENT WEVERAL TIMES TO LONDON TO LECTURE AS A MINISTER AND TO RAISE FUNDS FOR THE SCHOOL HE I kept wishing this would be made into a spectacular movie but then saw a reviewer below mention that there was a documentary. This is documenting that is easy to read and makes one wish more attention would be paid to this life of Josiah Henson. How he lasted into his 90's after many beatings in his 41 years as a slave and then not only got to Canada but got his wife there, made a life for his family AND WENT WEVERAL TIMES TO LONDON TO LECTURE AS A MINISTER AND TO RAISE FUNDS FOR THE SCHOOL HE WAS ESTABLISHING IN THE TOWN HE GOT GOING! impressive!!!Yet he was fragile, never learned to write but did learn to read late in life. This is non-fiction for history fiction lovers. even if you never read it, read these reviews and learn about the man who inspired Uncle Tom's Cabin. And the writer says he also sparked the Civil War!
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  • Carol Arnold
    January 1, 1970
    This story of Josiah Henson was captivating from the start. But it was much more than the history of one man. It was the history of the horrific institution of slavery in the United States. I had never heard of Josiah before and was surprised to find that he was the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” This book is not a dry history. It reads more like a novel and keeps the reader’s attention. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in this period of American history. This story of Josiah Henson was captivating from the start. But it was much more than the history of one man. It was the history of the horrific institution of slavery in the United States. I had never heard of Josiah before and was surprised to find that he was the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” This book is not a dry history. It reads more like a novel and keeps the reader’s attention. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in this period of American history. It has inspired me to re-read "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
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  • Daniel Manary
    January 1, 1970
    It’s a rare book that changes your head as well as your heart, and Road to Dawn is just such a book. As a child, I have been to the "Uncle Tom's House" that commemorates Josiah's life and remember hearing a small piece of his story. Or perhaps I heard more of it than I remember, because Josiah's story was not told there as well as Jared Brock tells it here.Perhaps the best summary of the story is a sentence from the book, "justice without violence," although Josiah's slavery was long and unbelie It’s a rare book that changes your head as well as your heart, and Road to Dawn is just such a book. As a child, I have been to the "Uncle Tom's House" that commemorates Josiah's life and remember hearing a small piece of his story. Or perhaps I heard more of it than I remember, because Josiah's story was not told there as well as Jared Brock tells it here.Perhaps the best summary of the story is a sentence from the book, "justice without violence," although Josiah's slavery was long and unbelievably hard and justice seemed unreachable for most of his life. Even in his freedom, when Josiah would do the best he could to be a good man as he had promised the man who brought him to Canada, Josiah was cheated and overwhelmed and under-supported. But he never gave up.For me, the most moving parts of the book are Josiah's spiritual encounters. Brock writes these encounters, such as Josiah's conversion, in a way that feels real and emotional beyond what the facts used to describe most of Josiah's life can convey. I loved seeing Josiah's life in the light of his relationship to God, and I wish I could have heard him preach. It's clear that Josiah's faith is what prevented him from acting violently at several points in his life.This book made me want to know more on a few topics. I want to learn more about Uncle Tom's Cabin, Frederick Douglass, and the real lives of slaves in that time. I think this is one of the best things a biography can accomplish, to inform and to impart a desire to learn more about the subject matter. Where the book informs best is on the spirit of slavery and the ease with which entire people groups can dehumanize another. That's never something that should be forgotten, and Brock has done a wonderful job of making something that will stick with me.I think the author oversteps a little in the epilogue when he calls for reparations. This is not a book that argues that point, and although I can appreciate the heartfelt longing that went into making this book, neither Josiah's life nor Josiah himself as represented in the book argue for reparations. It's far too complicated a topic to add on as an emotional appeal. However, there are other good "next steps" he recommends and I commend his attempts to start a foundation.You should read this book. You won't regret humanizing a past and a person that have been forgotten all too soon.
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  • S.
    January 1, 1970
    A gripping story that illuminates the remarkable life of a man history has forgotten. Josiah Henson faced countless adversities with grace, resilience, and strength of character that will inspire and challenge today’s readers. From birth to death Henson’s biography comes alive in Jared Brock’s book. It’s a fascinating read, that takes you on an unbelievable journey: from an illiterate, crippled 40+ year old slave, to a man of passion and position, who meets with presidents, royalty and world-sha A gripping story that illuminates the remarkable life of a man history has forgotten. Josiah Henson faced countless adversities with grace, resilience, and strength of character that will inspire and challenge today’s readers. From birth to death Henson’s biography comes alive in Jared Brock’s book. It’s a fascinating read, that takes you on an unbelievable journey: from an illiterate, crippled 40+ year old slave, to a man of passion and position, who meets with presidents, royalty and world-shapers. Whose story inspired a movement, and whose work created a haven for men, women and children who escaped bondage only to arrive in a new country that wasn’t prepared for or welcoming to them. This book reminds us, too, that slavery didn’t end, it merely changed shape and location. It lives on in the prison system, and arrives to us in safe faceless packages of coffee, clothes, and smartphones. It challenges us to not only bear witness to the injustices of the past, but acknowledge and fight against the very same institutions that plague our world today. Just as we fall in love with Josiah, and feel his struggles and triumphs, and decry those who stood in his way to freedom and success, we must also recognize our own behaviours that contribute to an unjust world and keep others in the voiceless cycle of poverty and enslavement. I highly recommend this book, and I look forward to when Josiah Henson’s name is spoken alongside other game changers that worked tirelessly to create a safer, brighter, more educated world for us all, but especially people of colour, to live.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    I never realized how much I didn't know about Uncle Tom's Cabin until I read Jared Brock's book The Road to Dawn. To think that I grew up in such a historical area and yet the schools I attended ignored it. It makes me somewhat angry to have that part of history, especially in the town I grew up in, overlooked merely because of a person's skin colour. But Brock did an incredible job of tracing the life story of Josiah Henson (known as Uncle Tom) and managed to keep me riveted to the very end.Jos I never realized how much I didn't know about Uncle Tom's Cabin until I read Jared Brock's book The Road to Dawn. To think that I grew up in such a historical area and yet the schools I attended ignored it. It makes me somewhat angry to have that part of history, especially in the town I grew up in, overlooked merely because of a person's skin colour. But Brock did an incredible job of tracing the life story of Josiah Henson (known as Uncle Tom) and managed to keep me riveted to the very end.Josiah Henson was an incredible man trapped in slavery. Harriet Beecher Stowe based her book, Uncle Tom's Cabin, on him. His escape from slavery, along with his devotion to God, shaped the rest of his life as he worked to abolish slavery. Brock has done an extensive job retracing Josiah's history. I commend him for the obvious long hours of research he put into this book. It shows. Amazingly, in the 21st century, we are still dealing with slavery in many parts of the world. We need a book like this. It needs to be part of our high school curriculum. It should be mandatory. This is one book you need to read.
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  • Taryn Braband
    January 1, 1970
    This book was fascinating. I've read many books about the Civil War and the period leading up to it, but never knew anything about Josiah Henson. I'm so glad I read this book and highly recommend it to anyone who has any interest in history, the human condition and/or cares anything about humanity. This is the true story of an extraordinary man who was born into slavery and lived 40-41 years of his life in servitude and bondage, and finally escaped to Canada, to begin an extraordinary journey in This book was fascinating. I've read many books about the Civil War and the period leading up to it, but never knew anything about Josiah Henson. I'm so glad I read this book and highly recommend it to anyone who has any interest in history, the human condition and/or cares anything about humanity. This is the true story of an extraordinary man who was born into slavery and lived 40-41 years of his life in servitude and bondage, and finally escaped to Canada, to begin an extraordinary journey into service to humanity and God and who became the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe in her creation of the timeless classic, which helped to instigate the Civil War, "Uncle Tom's Cabin." This is an important book and I hope many, many, many more people will discover and read it. It deserves to be a part of the syllabus for many an American History class!
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  • Brianna
    January 1, 1970
    I’m not surprised that I loved this book considering the author. I have always very much enjoyed his writing, work and documentaries. I appreciate all the time and research he puts into making his books as factual as possible, and this one lived up to that as well! This is a story that needed to be told, and what a time we live in to tell it! It’s raw and has pages that are hard to stomach as we see the appalling conditions in which Josiah and his family lived. Although difficult, the subject is I’m not surprised that I loved this book considering the author. I have always very much enjoyed his writing, work and documentaries. I appreciate all the time and research he puts into making his books as factual as possible, and this one lived up to that as well! This is a story that needed to be told, and what a time we live in to tell it! It’s raw and has pages that are hard to stomach as we see the appalling conditions in which Josiah and his family lived. Although difficult, the subject is tastefully handled and through this story, I am reminded of the resilience of the human spirit. I hope many people read this book and are as moved by it as I have been! Thank you for telling Josiah’s story!I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review, and was pleased to provide one!!
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    This is the wonderful story of the largely unknown history of an amazing man, Josiah Henson, who endured brutal treatment while a slave for many years, but who went on to gain his freedom and to become a leader in the Underground Railroad, ushering 118 fellow slaves to freedom in the Canadian community of Dawn. Josiah, who came to be known as the Christian preacher, Fr. Henson, was as well highly influential and a leader in the growing abolitionist movement of mid-19th century America. His is a This is the wonderful story of the largely unknown history of an amazing man, Josiah Henson, who endured brutal treatment while a slave for many years, but who went on to gain his freedom and to become a leader in the Underground Railroad, ushering 118 fellow slaves to freedom in the Canadian community of Dawn. Josiah, who came to be known as the Christian preacher, Fr. Henson, was as well highly influential and a leader in the growing abolitionist movement of mid-19th century America. His is a life that deserves to be widely-known, celebrated, and remembered. I received this book as an unedited proof prior to its publication from the publisher through a Goodreads website giveaway.
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  • Aria
    January 1, 1970
    ---- Disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads. ---- A well-researched, informative, & interesting look at Mr. Josiah Henson, the man apon whom the book Uncle Tom's Cabin was largely (but not wholly) based. At first I thought this might be a 3 star read, b/c there are spots here & there where my mind started to wander. Mostly it held my attention, though. When I did find myself wandering out of the narrative I just put it down for a bit & after I returned it was alrig ---- Disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads. ---- A well-researched, informative, & interesting look at Mr. Josiah Henson, the man apon whom the book Uncle Tom's Cabin was largely (but not wholly) based. At first I thought this might be a 3 star read, b/c there are spots here & there where my mind started to wander. Mostly it held my attention, though. When I did find myself wandering out of the narrative I just put it down for a bit & after I returned it was alright again, which is fine. That didn't happen too much, though. The story is solid & the subject matter is of course, quite interesting. I believe myself to be somewhat well-read, & knew a lot of the info. that will prob. be new to many other readers, but I still learned quite a bit. I know I won't be using the phrase "Uncle Tom" anymore. Am kind of embarrassed I wasn't aware of the origins of that beforehand, but there you have it. Uncle Tom's Cabin is not a story I've previously read, for no reason other than I just haven't come across a copy conveniently available to me. It was on my list of books that I would like to read one day, but now it has been moved over to the list of books I must more readily seek out. That, I think, can be considered a positive effect from having read The Road to Dawn. The thing about this book, is that one need not have read or even be familiar w/ Uncle Tom's Cabin, nor must one necessarily have any idea who Mr. Henson was, in order to gain loads from reading this. It stands on its own, but could be used as a companion read to the other book. Furthermore, due to the well-referenced information, this could also become a jumping-off point for anyone interested in learning more. Such references also do well to ward off attacks from those sort of folk who sadly still today exist, & would like to re-write the well-documented & abhorrent history of the slave trade. (I know that the really committed ones wouldn't change their tune even if a time machine dropped them back to witness things 1st-hand, but for the rest, the documentation matters.) When this book moved upward of a 3 star rating for me was as it approached the later bits, & the links b/w oppressive techniques of the day were so ably related to modern times. The social & human costs & benefits, the blinded vision (willful or otherwise) to what is occurring, the forces & structures that created both human beneficiaries, & underdogs (for lack of a better term), & those who work to keep such systems functioning, are all touched on as old problems updated & made new. The terminology has been adjusted, but the human-driven cause & effect is no different. This is a hard thing for people to accept, but as then, there can be no positive progress until the the scales begin to fall from the eyes of the masses, & the harsh reality of it all is honestly acknowledged. Appropriately, in the epilogue we find addressed the specifics of the modern repercussions of the chattel slave-trade that this particular population is still being forced to confront, live through, & hopefully overcome, due to nothing more than the chance circumstances of their birth. Again, the same people who have always benefited from such arrangements, are still benefiting. That all this history was woven into the structure of modernity makes this book a benefit to a wider audience than just those w/ historical or literary interests. I'd like to stress, that although I personally was so keenly taken w/ the task of that weaving having been so well-accomplished, & w/ the appropriate but unintrusive (to the flow of the reading) referencing of source documents, that is by & large not how this book presents. It's all there for those who wish to make use of it, but this book itself is wholly just a tale about a man surviving & doing his damned best against ridiculous odds. I will quote a bit from the epilogue that I feel summed up well the possibilities of consuming this work for a wide swath of humanity. "Josiah's story has something for everyone. If you are looking for truth, you will find it. If you are looking for scandal, you will find it. If you are looking for resistance, you will find it. Josiah defies national boundaries, and he fits no category. He refuses to be the victim, or the political puppet; nor can he play the faultless hero. He will not be boxed in - perhaps precisely because he spent so much time in confinement. When reflecting back on Josiah's story as a whole, it is easy to see, indeed, that Josiah used his freedom well, as he had promised to do." (Easily worth 5 stars, but the 4 is for the few bits where I found myself drifting. Also, I am really hard to get 5 stars out of. You pretty much have to be Dostoevsky or some similar kind of bad-ass.) Would not recommend to grade-school level, even if they're highly advanced readers, b/c some of the graphic content that necessarily must exist in such a story is probably not the best thing for kids to have in their head when they go to sleep at night. The later-grades of middle-school advanced students, high school students, & of course adults, should all be ready candidates. (It would probably just be a waste of printed paper for the Cliven Bundy's of the world, however. Just sayin'.) I would like to thank Mr. Brock for his work here, & wish him well in his efforts to draw more recognition to the fascinating man that was Josiah Henson. To readers of this review, apologies for the length. I was trying to cover my bases. Happy reading to you!
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  • Mike C
    January 1, 1970
    A spectacular biography for 150 pages that inexplicably goes totally off the rails. It’s like they just stopped editing it halfway through as there’s about 75 pages of political minutiae regarding the institute Henson helped found, and the book starts jumping all over the place. The last two chapters are a rambling mess that I could barely follow. 3 Stars because the first 150 and the last 15 or so pages made a great story.
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  • Shea
    January 1, 1970
    The is about a honest man, that impacted history. Read and find out about Josiah Henson. Very good book!
  • Heather Kidd
    January 1, 1970
    Josiah Hensen, a man every Canadian should know about!This book is about the real life of Josiah Henson, a former slave, who was made famous by Harriet Beecher Stowe's infamous Uncle Tom's Cabin, the book which was influential in provoking anti-slavery anger in the northern United States and Britain against the American South. Josiah Hensen is the inspiration behind the character of Uncle Tom, and many people called him Uncle Tom throughout his life, though this book makes it clear that he is no Josiah Hensen, a man every Canadian should know about!This book is about the real life of Josiah Henson, a former slave, who was made famous by Harriet Beecher Stowe's infamous Uncle Tom's Cabin, the book which was influential in provoking anti-slavery anger in the northern United States and Britain against the American South. Josiah Hensen is the inspiration behind the character of Uncle Tom, and many people called him Uncle Tom throughout his life, though this book makes it clear that he is not Uncle Tom, but his own person with his own name and unique story.This book "The Road to Dawn" can be broken up into a a couple parts. The first part introduces the culture that Josiah was born into as a child of African slaves in Maryland, and follows Josiah as he grows up a slave and what leads him to eventually escape for freedom in Canada. The second part gives a detailed history of Josiah in Canada as a Fugitive Slave and Free Man and what he did with the rest of his long life. I enjoyed the first part of the book the most as it was fast-paced and somewhat exciting. The author gave an eye-opening and bare-bones look at the slave culture in America prior to the Civil War. It points out how the blacks were oppressed not only physically, and emotionally but mentally and psychologically as well. The author shows this particularly well by writing this;"Slave owners discouraged the recording of the birthdates of the slaves, because one of the most effective tools of slave oppression was ignorance. A slave with knowledge of the wider world is a slave who can cause problems. A slave with a memory of the past and vision of the future is dangerous."I appreciate the thoughtful look as Josiah wrestled with his conscience over whether to escape or not, showing how the ingrained cultural thinking and Christianity of the day influenced his thoughts and actions, as shown by this the author here:"On one hand, for a slave in his relatively privileged and powerful position, it was an entirely rational choice to 'get along' and make the best of his situation until he could legally change it. On the other hand, he knew slavery was fundamentally evil and should be abolished. Josiah weighed the benefits of accepting his slave status and working within the system to improve his family's lot versus the risks of actively resisting. It was not an easy choice." The second part after he escaped to Canada was harder for me to read through, as there was a lot of politics and whatnot as Josiah endeavored to build up a community called Dawn in Canada, that would help educate others that had escaped to freedom. I was glad that I did read through it all and am impressed by the author as he certainly did his homework! He was able to show that it wasn't an easy road to start living free, by any stretch and there was lots of opposition and betrayals, peppered with faithful support and admiration. Josiah's life was no fairy-tale, there wasn't a Happily Ever After once he reached freedom. He experience a great amount of heartbreak and toil for naught--He never achieved what he had envisioned Dawn to be for his people. However, as we read through his life story we see that he used his freedom well as he had promised he would. He left a lasting and impressive legacy, one of honor, kindness, generosity and selflessness, that begs us to pick up where he left off! In all I would rate this book 3.5 stars as I enjoyed the content and the history and learning about Josiah, however found the latter half of the book to be rather bogged down, confusing and hard to read at times. I do hope that Josiah Hensen becomes a nationally known name, and that his story is taught to our children in schools across Canada.
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  • Robert
    January 1, 1970
    Growing up about 30 minutes from Dresden, Ont., visiting the Uncle Tom's Cabin historic site in high school, and reading a long-lost copy of The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself, I thought I had a good grasp on the story of this former slave and, as the subtitle states, "the story that sparked the Civil War."Then I read The Road to Dawn by Jared A. Brock where I discovered there was more to Henson's story than I'd grew up believing.Broc Growing up about 30 minutes from Dresden, Ont., visiting the Uncle Tom's Cabin historic site in high school, and reading a long-lost copy of The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself, I thought I had a good grasp on the story of this former slave and, as the subtitle states, "the story that sparked the Civil War."Then I read The Road to Dawn by Jared A. Brock where I discovered there was more to Henson's story than I'd grew up believing.Brock's interest in Henson began when he bought his wife a book she said she'd wanted to read: Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin."She read it, and was moved by it, and I decided to do a little more research...I was surprised to discover that her novel was based on the life of a real man named Josiah Henson," writes Brock, who made his own visit to Henson's Canadian home. He also began extensively researching Henson's life. (A side note: Brock and co-author Aaron Alford shared a precis of Henson's story in the book Bearded Gospel Men.)Brock starts with the well-known story of Henson, who grew up as a slave in Maryland and, due to a natural intelligence, became a trusted overseer for his master, Isaac Riley. This trust led to Henson being chosen to lead a group of slaves to the plantation of Riley's brother in Kentucky.Yet, for all this trust and goodwill, Henson is mistreated and cheated. When he finds out his new master plans sell Henson's family separately, he decides to escape to Canada and freedom.Throughout Henson's story, Brock doesn't shy away from describing the brutality of slavery and notes how even those who showed kindness to their slaves still found their compassion restricted by an oppressive and pervasive system. After Henson arrives in Canada, Brock shows how Henson's trusting nature is frequently taken advantage of as he tries to establish a self-supporting community for escaped slaves.This is where I discovered more about Henson's life. At the Dawn settlement, the community near Dresden he founded (and is buried), Henson endures the self-serving machinations of (sometimes) well-meaning abolitionists and an onslaught of attacks by fellow escapees who disagreed with his methods. Brock shows that, along with his tendency to be to trusting, much of Henson's problems came from his lack of a formal education and financial acumen, which weren't uncommon for slaves. What I found surprising were the unfounded accusations that Henson was profiting from both the Dawn settlement and the separate British-American Institute (BAI) training school.While packed with facts about Henson, slavery, pre-Civil War American society, pre- and post-Confederation Canada, The Road to Dawn reads like a novel, not history book. The style keeps the reader engaged and wanting more, and his footnotes provide a good trail of books and documents about these topics for further reading. I only wish, especially when trying to follow the trail of the trials around Dawn and the BAI, there was a list of key players available for reference.Uncle Tom's Cabin sounded a call against slavery that led to the Civil War. In The Road to Dawn, Brock provides a clarion call to remedy the effects of racism and slavery that exist 135 years after Henson's death. He calls for, among a list of items, a change in name of the Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic site to the Josiah Henson National Historic Site, a National Underground Railway Museum and financial reparations by Canada, Britain and the United States.One point Brock made, "we have yet to see a person of color adorn our currency," has been fulfilled with the 2018 release of the $10 bill featuring Nova Scotia civil rights pioneer Viola Desmond. Perhaps there still is hope on The Road to Dawn.
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  • Lucy
    January 1, 1970
    4 1/2 stars. Josiah Henson was an extraordinary man who I’d never heard of. The book’s subtitle suggests that his story sparked the Civil War. That might be a bit of a stretch but it’s no stretch to say that his story was an inspiration for “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. Josiah was born a slave and spent the first 41 years of his life as a slave. He and his wife and children made a daring escape and managed to get to Canada and freedom. He then spent most of the rest of his life helping others. He didn’t 4 1/2 stars. Josiah Henson was an extraordinary man who I’d never heard of. The book’s subtitle suggests that his story sparked the Civil War. That might be a bit of a stretch but it’s no stretch to say that his story was an inspiration for “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. Josiah was born a slave and spent the first 41 years of his life as a slave. He and his wife and children made a daring escape and managed to get to Canada and freedom. He then spent most of the rest of his life helping others. He didn’t live in obscurity. He established a community, started a school, traveled extensively, and made friends with some very influential people - the queen of England, the president of the United States, and of course Harriet Beecher Stowe. Why he isn’t better known today is totally beyond belief.
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  • Lailani
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book thru a Goodreads giveaway . . . I really enjoyed the story of Josiah Henson. As most stories regarding slavery, the appalling, violent actions of one against another is heart breaking, but Josiah's character was amazing and inspiring. Brock's research seems quite thorough and connected the events of the time well and gave perspective to the challenges of escaping as well as buying ones freedom. As a previous reviewer stated, if my mind wondered, I would set it down and pick I received this book thru a Goodreads giveaway . . . I really enjoyed the story of Josiah Henson. As most stories regarding slavery, the appalling, violent actions of one against another is heart breaking, but Josiah's character was amazing and inspiring. Brock's research seems quite thorough and connected the events of the time well and gave perspective to the challenges of escaping as well as buying ones freedom. As a previous reviewer stated, if my mind wondered, I would set it down and pick it back up, and that only happened during the 1850's time range since there was wealth of information and facts to the timeline, but still very interesting.
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  • ingrid
    January 1, 1970
    EXCELLENT book! So informative and easy to read. I learned a lot. I was ignorant about Josiah Henson, an amazing human being, born in MD and ultimately escaped to Canada, through heroic efforts. I was rather ill informed about abolitionism, and other aspects of slavery, and the incredible courage of so many. Pretty riveting. The reason I did not give it 5* is because there was a long section of confusing political and rivalry issues related to Dawn, too many names of people to register with me, EXCELLENT book! So informative and easy to read. I learned a lot. I was ignorant about Josiah Henson, an amazing human being, born in MD and ultimately escaped to Canada, through heroic efforts. I was rather ill informed about abolitionism, and other aspects of slavery, and the incredible courage of so many. Pretty riveting. The reason I did not give it 5* is because there was a long section of confusing political and rivalry issues related to Dawn, too many names of people to register with me, anyway, among those who helped Mr. Henson and I think it could have been better edited. I highly recommend it overall.
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  • Madlyn
    January 1, 1970
    The Road to Dawn was a remarkable story of a man brutally enslave for over 40 years before he had gained his freedom as a runaway slave. This book took me on this journey with Josiah Henson how he lived his life from a child to an adult male, brother, father, husband, minister, businessman and honorable black leader to the ex-slaves who resides in Canada. Many times I would cry as I read the evil physical violence forced on him. Though the grace of God Josiah’s story taught me what my ancestors The Road to Dawn was a remarkable story of a man brutally enslave for over 40 years before he had gained his freedom as a runaway slave. This book took me on this journey with Josiah Henson how he lived his life from a child to an adult male, brother, father, husband, minister, businessman and honorable black leader to the ex-slaves who resides in Canada. Many times I would cry as I read the evil physical violence forced on him. Though the grace of God Josiah’s story taught me what my ancestors went through at the hands of evil white British and English men during the 18th Century and it took the act of many abolitionist who started a movement to end slavery.
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  • Lisa Henderson-Farr
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Perseus Books, Public Affairs and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.I have always been interested in the slavery and civil war era. I am a Canadian and enjoyed reading about the events that took place very close to where I currently live. In the past I have mostly read books dealing with the American side of this time period so it was very informative to see how Canada played a role. Would definitely recommend this book to any one who wants Thank you to Perseus Books, Public Affairs and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.I have always been interested in the slavery and civil war era. I am a Canadian and enjoyed reading about the events that took place very close to where I currently live. In the past I have mostly read books dealing with the American side of this time period so it was very informative to see how Canada played a role. Would definitely recommend this book to any one who wants a more global view of this time in history.
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