1951: Amos Fortune, Free Man

VERDICT: Trash

Sally’s Rating: 1.5/5

Elizabeth Yate’s Amos Fortune, Free Man is an emotionless account on slavery in the Americas in the early 1700’s. The life of the historical Amos Fortune is revealed in this tale of a former slave turned free man.

This was without a doubt the tamest book on slavery I have ever read. The author glosses over the slave portion of his life, wherein Amos has a couple of different owners, but is not treated atrociously by them. Instead, he is taught to read and develops skills that are useful to him later in his life. This depiction of slavery does not look at physical abuse, but focuses on how his owners try to Americanize him and convert him to their religion, making him struggle to still hold onto his African beliefs and traditions. The bulk of the story takes place once he is freed, as he sets out to make something of his life.

Once freed, his life story becomes very repetitive as he continually saves up his money to free other slaves.  He meets his wife in this way, resulting in them setting off to buy some land and build a house in an attempt at domestic bliss. While Amos was obviously an admirable person, the author’s writing style does not let his character come to life on the pages. The story is simply an account of his life; very little personality shines through, making it hard to care about the characters.

The biggest problem with this book is that the main character is emotionless and flat. I would think someone in his position would feel anger, sadness or happiness at some point in his life, but Fortune’s character seems complacent throughout the book. It’s hard to feel anything for his desires when his deep feelings are complete hidden from the reader.

Amos Fortune, Free Man failed to live up to my expectations. Biographies need some kind of spark to get them noticed or else they seem to end up like this one – a list of facts that happened during this man’s life. Recommendation: Don’t pick this up.

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