Nat Turner

Nat Turner

A Slave Rebellion in History and Memory

Book - 2003
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Nat Turner's name rings through American history with a force all its own. Leader of the most important slave rebellion on these shores, variously viewed as a murderer of unarmed women and children, an inspired religious leader, a fanatic--this puzzling figure represents all the terriblecomplexities of American slavery. And yet we do not know what he looked like, where he is buried, or even whether Nat Turner was his real name. In Nat Turner: A Slave Rebellion in History and Memory, Kenneth S. Greenberg gathers twelve distinguished scholars to offer provocative new insight into the man, his rebellion, and his time, and his place in history. The historians here explore Turner's slave community, discussing the supportfor his uprising as well as the religious and literary context of his movement. They examine the place of women in his insurrection, and its far-reaching consequences (including an extraordinary 1832 Virginia debate about ridding the state of slavery). Here are discussions of Turner's religiousvisions--the instructions he received from God to kill all of his white oppressors. Louis Masur places him against the backdrop of the nation's sectional crisis, and Douglas Egerton puts his revolt in the context of rebellions across the Americas. We trace Turner's passage through American memorythrough fascinating interviews with William Styron on his landmark novel, The Confessions of Nat Turner, and with Dr. Alvin Poussaint, one of the "ten black writers" of the 1960s who bitterly attacked Styron's vision of Turner. Finally, we follow Nat Turner into the world of Hollywood. Nat Turner has always been controversial, an emblem of the searing wound of slavery in American life. This book offers a clear-eyed look at one of the best known and least understood figures in our history.
Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2003.
ISBN: 9780195134049
Branch Call Number: B TURNER NAT
Characteristics: xix, 289 p. ; 25 cm.
Additional Contributors: Greenberg, Kenneth S.


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Nov 17, 2014

Reading William Styron's "The Confessions of Nat Turner," which was celebrated and criticized in equal measure, prompted me to learn more about the historical Nat Turner. This is a collection of essays, mostly be historians and scholars, about Turner and the slave revolt he led in Virginia. For me the most interesting part was the essays about Styron's novel, which was controversial because Styron wrote it in first person and some claimed he falsified what was known about Turner, although as this book makes clear, he wasn't a well-documented figure. It was a little too academic for me, but was useful context for understanding the novel and Turner.


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