80 books like The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part I

By Sharon Ewell Foster,

Here are 80 books that The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part I fans have personally recommended if you like The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part I. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Prophets

Jeffrey Richards Author Of We Are Only Ghosts

From my list on LGBT+ novels that haunt me (in a good way).

Why am I passionate about this?

I came of age in Oklahoma as a gay youth in the late 1970s and early 1980s, keeping myself hidden out of safety and shame. Once I was old enough to leave my small-minded town and be myself, I crashed headlong into the oncoming AIDS epidemic. It set me on a path to understanding the world and my place in it as a homosexual. I turned to reading about the lives and histories of those who came before me, to learn about their deaths and survivals in what could be an ugly, brutal world. These works continue to draw me, haunt me, and inspire me to share my story through my writing. 

Jeffrey's book list on LGBT+ novels that haunt me (in a good way)

Jeffrey Richards Why did Jeffrey love this book?

This is one of those novels I read as a writer, and I thought I should just pack it in because I’ll never be able to write anything so gloriously beautiful, heartbreaking, and perfect.

While Robert Jones, Jr. meticulously creates an atmosphere of the harsh realities of slavery–stretching from the shores of Africa to the cotton fields of Mississippi–he brings us up above all that ugliness, all that inhumanity by offering a transcendental love story between two of the slaves, Samuel and Isaiah.

Even though the harshness, so realized that it made my stomach turn while reading the story, is so visceral and painful, it is the love story that not only infuses itself throughout the plantation–from the slave quarters to the main house–that supersedes all and wends its way into your skin, your heart, your soul. This novel is an achievement beyond anything I expected.

By Robert Jones, Jr.,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Prophets as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER*

'This visionary and deeply evocative debut carves a radiant love story out of the bleakest of landscapes.' Waterstones - Best Books to Look Out For in 2021

'An Outstanding novel' Guardian
'A lyrical, poetic novel' Independent
'Epic in its scale' Marlon James, author of Black Leopard, Red Wolf
'A rare marvel' Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
'Magisterial' Courttia Newland, author of A River Called Time
'A spellbinding debut' COSMO
'Ambitious and intense' Vanity Fair

In this blinding debut, Robert Jones Jr. blends the lyricism of Toni Morrison with the vivid prose…


Book cover of Douglass' Women

Elizabeth Bell Author Of Necessary Sins

From my list on the human toll of American slavery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an American novelist and a lifelong, enthusiastic student of American history. To me, history is people. In addition to first-hand accounts and biographies, one of the best ways to understand those people is historical fiction. For the last two decades, I’ve lived in the Southern United States, surrounded by the legacy of slavery, America’s “peculiar institution” that claimed an unequivocal evil was a positive good. Because both the enslaved and their enslavers were human beings, the ways that evil manifested were as complex as each individual—as were the ways people maintained their humanity. These are a few of the novels on the subject that blew me away.

Elizabeth's book list on the human toll of American slavery

Elizabeth Bell Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Escaping slavery doesn’t make you a saint. Even Frederick Douglass, one of the world’s most famous former slaves, one of history’s greatest writers, orators, and human rights activists, had feet of clay. His wife Anna was a free Black woman who helped him escape bondage and bore him five children. Yet Frederick cheated on her in a decades-long affair with a White German woman—who is somehow equally sympathetic here. I finished this novel loving all three of these flawed, complex characters, all of whom were real people. Rhodes’s psychological insight leaves me in awe.

By Jewell Parker Rhodes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Douglass' Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE 2003 PEN OAKLAND JOSEPHINE MILES AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING WRITING AND THE BLACK CAUCUS OF THE ALA LITERARY AWARD
Frederick Douglass, the great African-American abolitionist, was a man who cherished freedom in life and in love. In this ambitious work of historical fiction, Douglass' passions come vividly to life in the form of two women: Anna Murray Douglass and Ottilie Assing.
Douglass' Women is an imaginative rendering of these two women -- one black, the other white -- in Douglass' life. Anna, his wife, was a free woman of color who helped Douglass escape as a slave. She…


Book cover of Sister of Mine

Elizabeth Bell Author Of Necessary Sins

From my list on the human toll of American slavery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an American novelist and a lifelong, enthusiastic student of American history. To me, history is people. In addition to first-hand accounts and biographies, one of the best ways to understand those people is historical fiction. For the last two decades, I’ve lived in the Southern United States, surrounded by the legacy of slavery, America’s “peculiar institution” that claimed an unequivocal evil was a positive good. Because both the enslaved and their enslavers were human beings, the ways that evil manifested were as complex as each individual—as were the ways people maintained their humanity. These are a few of the novels on the subject that blew me away.

Elizabeth's book list on the human toll of American slavery

Elizabeth Bell Why did Elizabeth love this book?

The Jewish people have been persecuted—even enslaved—for millennia. One would hope this would make them more compassionate toward another persecuted and enslaved group, American Blacks. Unfortunately, this usually isn’t the way human nature works. To quote Frederick Douglass: “Everybody, in the south, wants the privilege of whipping somebody else.” If humans can get ahead by oppressing someone else, we too often do. With her fictional Jewish family and the Blacks they enslave—one of whom is also their blood kin—Waldfogel explores this terrible truth. A hundred and fifty years after its setting, this novel challenged me to be a better human.

By Sabra Waldfogel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sister of Mine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When two Union soldiers stumble onto a plantation in northern Georgia on a warm May day in 1864, the last thing they expect is to see the Union flag flying high-or to be greeted by a group of freed slaves and their Jewish mistress. Little do they know that this place has an unusual history.

Twelve years prior, Adelaide Mannheim-daughter of Mordecai, the only Jewish planter in the county-was given her own maid, a young slave named Rachel. The two became friends, and soon they discovered a secret: Mordecai was Rachel's father, too.

As the country moved toward war, Adelaide…


Book cover of Freeman

Elizabeth Bell Author Of Necessary Sins

From my list on the human toll of American slavery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an American novelist and a lifelong, enthusiastic student of American history. To me, history is people. In addition to first-hand accounts and biographies, one of the best ways to understand those people is historical fiction. For the last two decades, I’ve lived in the Southern United States, surrounded by the legacy of slavery, America’s “peculiar institution” that claimed an unequivocal evil was a positive good. Because both the enslaved and their enslavers were human beings, the ways that evil manifested were as complex as each individual—as were the ways people maintained their humanity. These are a few of the novels on the subject that blew me away.

Elizabeth's book list on the human toll of American slavery

Elizabeth Bell Why did Elizabeth love this book?

This novel begins just after the American Civil War and Emancipation, but it foreshadows the horrific legacy of slavery. The titular character, a Black man named Sam who is now free, goes in search of Tilda, the wife whom slavery ripped away from him. Meanwhile, her Confederate enslaver drags Tilda westward, refusing to give up the woman he thinks he owns. How do you rebuild a society and a family in the wake of slavery’s devastation? Pitts explores this question unforgettably, acknowledging the inevitable violence but with a glimmer of hope. Freeman put me through a whole gamut of emotions. It rung me out and gave me a soothing cup of tea at the end.

By Leonard Pitts, Jr.,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Freeman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Freeman, the new novel by Leonard Pitts, Jr., takes place in the first few months following the Confederate surrender and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Upon learning of Lee's surrender, Sam--a runaway slave who once worked for the Union Army--decides to leave his safe haven in Philadelphia and set out on foot to return to the war-torn South. What compels him on this almost-suicidal course is the desire to find his wife, the mother of his only child, whom he and their son left behind 15 years earlier on the Mississippi farm to which they all "belonged." At the same…


Book cover of The Confessions of Nat Turner

Michael C. White Author Of Soul Catcher

From my list on slavery from both sides.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of seven novels, including Soul Catcher, a Booksense and Historical Novels Review selection; A Brother’s Blood, which was a New York Times Book Review Notable Book and an Edgar Award Finalist; The Blind Side of the Heart, A Dream of Wolves, and The Garden of Martyrs, a Connecticut Book Award finalist and made into an opera. My historical novel Beautiful Assassin won the 2011 Connecticut Book Award for Fiction. I’ve also published a collection of his short stories, Marked Men, in addition to over 50 short stories in national journals.  I was the founding editor of two magazines, American Fiction and Dogwood, as well as the founder and former director of Fairfield University's MFA Creative Writing Program. I’ve just completed a new historical novel set during the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

Michael's book list on slavery from both sides

Michael C. White Why did Michael love this book?

A great and controversial novel—aren’t great novels always controversial?The Confessions of Nat Turner takes as its starting point the mind of a slave, Nat Turner, as he awaits his execution for leading a failed slave rebellion in 1831. Even when it was published in 1967, the novel inspired a strong backlash from the African-American community, who were upset, in part, because of the portrayal of a Black man lusting after a White woman. Written by a Southern White, the novel is a powerful story, powerfully told, one that remains as relevant today as it did when it was first published. 

By William Styron,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Confessions of Nat Turner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE

In 1831 Nat Turner awaits death in a Virginia jail cell. He is a slave, a preacher, and the leader of the only effective slave revolt in the history of 'that peculiar institution'. William Styron's ambitious and stunningly accomplished novel is Turner's confession, made to his jailers under the duress of his God. Encompasses the betrayals, cruelties and humiliations that made up slavery - and that still sear the collective psyches of both races.


Book cover of Gabriel's Rebellion: The Virginia Slave Conspiracies of 1800 and 1802

Matthew J. Clavin Author Of Toussaint Louverture and the American Civil War: The Promise and Peril of a Second Haitian Revolution

From my list on slave resistance and revolts.

Why am I passionate about this?

I long ago decided that I could contribute to the struggle for the freedom and equality of all people by becoming a historian. My fascination with the history of race has led me on a quest to illuminate the extraordinary efforts of enslaved people and their allies to challenge White supremacy and destroy the institution of slavery. My newest book, Symbols of Freedom: Slavery and Resistance Before the Civil War, examines the role that revolutionary nationalism played in inspiring slave and antislavery resistance.

Matthew's book list on slave resistance and revolts

Matthew J. Clavin Why did Matthew love this book?

The determination of an enslaved blacksmith named Gabriel to lead countless Black people in and around Richmond, Virginia, in rebellion has long captured the attention of historians of slave resistance and revolts; however, in Egerton’s hands, the event becomes something unique and different. Read in the context of the French and Haitian Revolutions, as well as the US Presidential Election of 1800 (the so-called Revolution of 1800), Gabriel’s rebellion stems from the issues of politics and class as much, or even more than, race and slavery, in post-revolutionary Virginia.

By Douglas R. Egerton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gabriel's Rebellion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gabriel's Rebellion tells the dramatic story of what was perhaps the most extensive slave conspiracy in the history of the American South. Douglas Egerton illuminates the complex motivations that underlay two related Virginia slave revolts: the first, in 1800, led by the slave known as Gabriel; and the second, called the 'Easter Plot,' instigated in 1802 by one of his followers. Although Gabriel has frequently been portrayed as a messianic, Samson-like figure, Egerton shows that he was a literate and highly skilled blacksmith whose primary goal was to destroy the economic hegemony of the 'merchants,' the only whites he ever…


Book cover of Denmark Vesey's Garden: Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy

Judith Reifsteck Author Of Memoried and Storied: Healing our Shared History of Racial Violence

From my list on the power of memory to heal racial trauma.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love writing and teaching about topics that help me understand my life and my community better. And I love to contemplate the question - How do we come to care about the same things? As a psychotherapist I have firsthand experience in the disruption that any type of violence causes until it's repaired. One way to advocate for the vulnerable who do not have protection in their communities is to tell the story of the silent, unknown victims of lynching and other acts of racism and racial violence. Only by memorializing the stories of the victims of racial injustice can we repair the trauma and tell the true story of structural racism in America today.

Judith's book list on the power of memory to heal racial trauma

Judith Reifsteck Why did Judith love this book?

I recommend this first book because I believe racial violence won’t stop in our country until we tell the truth about our past. Only by memorializing the accurate stories of racial injustice in our history can we convince good people that white supremacy is alive and strong and destroying our national unity.

In their book, historians Kyle and Roberts reveal the links between the beliefs of the confederacy in the 1850s South and the modern-day massacre by white supremacist Dylann Roof who sought out slavery’s descendants and terrorized them anew in the 2015 Charleston massacre.

The murdered churchgoers were elders in the exact church that Denmark Vesey founded back in 1818. His statue and memorial garden is one of those public memorials we are still fighting about.

The story of resistor Denmark Vesey and other freedom fighters like him can lead to solutions for the tragedy of persistent racial violence.

By Ethan J. Kytle, Blain Roberts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Denmark Vesey's Garden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of Janet Maslin's Favorite Books of 2018, The New York Times

One of John Warner's Favorite Books of 2018, Chicago Tribune

Named one of the "Best Civil War Books of 2018" by the Civil War Monitor

"A fascinating and important new historical study."
-Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"A stunning contribution to the historiography of Civil War memory studies."
-Civil War Times

The stunning, groundbreaking account of "the ways in which our nation has tried to come to grips with its original sin" (Providence Journal)

Hailed by the New York Times as a "fascinating and important new historical…


Book cover of The Slave's Cause: A History of Abolition

Justin Iverson Author Of Rebels in Arms: Black Resistance and the Fight for Freedom in the Anglo-Atlantic

From my list on Black resistance to slavery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of slavery and resistance in early America and in the Atlantic world, and I have long been passionate about how enslaved people refused to accept the chattel system and the many creative ways they found to resist their status. It has also become a central goal of mine to tell their stories and make sure we know more about how slave resistance influenced U.S. society in the past and how it shapes the world in which we live today.

Justin's book list on Black resistance to slavery

Justin Iverson Why did Justin love this book?

In this massive study of one of the most radical movements in U.S. history, Manisha Sinha extends the story of Abolition to the 18th century and on the international stage, forcing us to rethink what we thought we knew about the movement’s trajectory and who its central figures were.

By telling the broader story, Sinha demonstrates who central Black rebels were for moving the cause along and for creating an interracial alliance that would eventually succeed in 1865.

By Manisha Sinha,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Slave's Cause as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2017 Frederick Douglass Prize

A groundbreaking history of abolition that recovers the largely forgotten role of African Americans in the long march toward emancipation from the American Revolution through the Civil War

Received historical wisdom casts abolitionists as bourgeois, mostly white reformers burdened by racial paternalism and economic conservatism. Manisha Sinha overturns this image, broadening her scope beyond the antebellum period usually associated with abolitionism and recasting it as a radical social movement in which men and women, black and white, free and enslaved found common ground in causes ranging from feminism and utopian socialism to anti-imperialism…


Book cover of The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World

Alex Borucki Author Of From Shipmates to Soldiers: Emerging Black Identities in the Río de la Plata

From my list on Black history in Argentina and Uruguay.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of the slave trade and slavery in the Rio de la Plata region (today’s Argentina and Uruguay) who then turned to the study of the traffic of captive Africans in the whole Spanish Americas. Yet, my love remains in the Rio de la Plata, what I call the “cold Caribbean.” Exciting books on the history of Africans and their descendants examine this region within the framework of Atlantic History, racial capitalism, gender, and the connections between twentieth-century Black culture and politics. As these recommendations are limited to English-language books, readers should note that much more has been published on this subject in Spanish and Portuguese.

Alex's book list on Black history in Argentina and Uruguay

Alex Borucki Why did Alex love this book?

Greg Grandin integrates the history of a slave rebellion in the vessel Tryal sailing from Valparaiso (Chile) to Lima (Peru) to the large narrative of how capitalism fueled slavery in the early nineteenth century. As the captives passed through the Rio de la Plata region on their way from Africa to Chile, Grandin weaves the history of the southern cone of South America in this story of deception. Herman Melville’s novel Benito Cereno (1855) popularized this slave rebellion, which allows Grandin to establish connections between the North and South Atlantic. Intriguingly, Grandin found another story of a shipboard slave rebellion on the vessel San Juan Nepomuceno, where captives made it back from Montevideo to Africa, which perhaps constitutes the most successful shipboard slave rebellion in the history of this horrific traffic. 

By Greg Grandin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Empire of Necessity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One morning in 1805, off a remote island in the South Pacific, Captain Amasa Delano, a New England seal hunter, climbed aboard a distressed Spanish ship carrying scores of West Africans he thought were slaves. They weren't. Having earlier seized control of the vessel and slaughtered most of the crew, they were staging an elaborate ruse, acting as if they were humble servants. When Delano, an idealistic, anti-slavery republican, finally realized the deception, he responded with explosive violence. Drawing on research on four continents, The Empire of Necessity explores the multiple forces that culminated in this extraordinary event-an event that…


Book cover of Tacky's Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War

Christian R. Burset Author Of An Empire of Laws: Legal Pluralism in British Colonial Policy

From my list on the rise of the British Empire.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a legal historian with a particular interest in eighteenth-century Britain and the United States. My research has investigated the history of arbitration, historical connections between law and politics, and changing attitudes to the rule of law. Since 2018, I’ve been a professor at Notre Dame Law School, where I teach courses in legal history, civil procedure, conflict of laws, and the rule of law.

Christian's book list on the rise of the British Empire

Christian R. Burset Why did Christian love this book?

The Seven Years’ War was a pivotal event in the formation of the British Empire, but histories of the conflict often omit a crucial battleground: Jamaica.

Starting in 1760, enslaved West Africans in Jamaica organized to throw off their captivity. Tacky’s Revolt, as the uprising became known, was the greatest slave rebellion the Atlantic world had yet seen. It was also linked to other, global struggles, both in Africa and between European empires.

In Tacky’s Revolt, Vincent Brown links these hyper-local and imperial stories. I found it particularly useful for understanding the complexities of race and ethnicity in the eighteenth-century British Caribbean. 

By Vincent Brown,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Tacky's Revolt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award
Winner of the Frederick Douglass Book Prize
Winner of the Elsa Goveia Book Prize
Winner of the James A. Rawley Prize in the History of Race Relations
Winner of the P. Sterling Stuckey Book Prize
Winner of the Harriet Tubman Prize
Winner of the Phillis Wheatley Book Award
Finalist for the Cundill Prize

A gripping account of the largest slave revolt in the eighteenth-century British Atlantic world, an uprising that laid bare the interconnectedness of Europe, Africa, and America, shook the foundations of empire, and reshaped ideas of race and popular belonging.

In the…


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