Monday, October 26, 2015

Book Review: The Underground Abductor by Nathan Hale

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor by Nathan Hale

In this volume, the British officer supervising Nathan Hale's execution demands a story where America doesn't look so good. Hale tells a tale from the days of slavery, specifically about Harriet Tubman. She was one of the most successful abductors on the Underground Railroad, a system that smuggled slaves out of southern states before the American Civil War (and a bit during the war). The slaves went as far as Canada to ensure their freedom.

This story starts with her as a child. She was born Araminta Ross and her whole family was owned by Edward Brodess, a land owner on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She had many varied tasks as a child, none of which she was very good at. Her owners were hard on her, even causing a head injury that seems to have caused narcolepsy, the condition where people unexpectedly and suddenly fall asleep. During this unnatural sleep, she had strange visions of the future, including nearby dangers. This ability comes in very handy (sort of--she does fall asleep at unexpected moments) in her life. Later she married the free black man John Tubman.

She fled to Philadelphia when her family was starting to be "sold South," i.e. her siblings sold to plantation owners who lived further south where conditions were much worse. After establishing herself as a free women, she changed her name to Harriet. She then began working to get the rest of her family out of Maryland. She also led anyone else willing to escape from slavery. When the war broke out, she worked as a spy for the Union and freed about 800 slaves in a daring raid on the Combahee River in South Carolina. She went on to a "happily ever after" life of retirement with her family in New York.

The book chronicles her exploits in an exciting and engaging manner. There aren't as many jokes as in other Hazardous Tales books but it still has a light enough touch that things are never too grim to put off readers. The Underground Abductor is another great book in the series.

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