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47 by Walter Mosley
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3831742,493 (3.53)57
  1. 00
    Trapped Between the Lash and the Gun by Arvella Whitmore (cammykitty)
    cammykitty: Interesting time travel story that compares being a gang member with slavery.

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Apparently this is considered youth fiction because the protagonist is a youth. The story is a sort of fairly tale that deals with the lives of slaves in the south about thirty years before the Civil War.

#47 is a young slave. Slaves, not being real people, didn't need real names. #47 eventually runs into John Beyond Africa who tells him that he, #47 that is, will lead his people out of slavery. John Beyond Africa is a rather mystical person: we're never sure if he is real or a figment of imagination. So, the story line shifts between the very real horrors of slave life and the fanciful action that occurs whenever John Beyond Africa shows up. It makes for a good story, albeit distressing when we keep being reminded of the horrors of slavery.

Since we still live in a time when the progeny of the perpetrators of the atrocity that was slavery are in great denial — a popular cooking show host claims the slaves of her great-grandparents were better off because her great-grandparents cared for them; a prominent candidate for the Presidency in 2016 claims that Civil rights legislation is wrong headed, tells students at a historically Black university that they should support the party of Lincoln, being totally unaware, it seems, that the party of Lincoln has long since become the party of Strom Thurmond, also hires a white supremacist as his publicist (since rescinded due to "political pressure", not a realization that the guy is in any way wrong headed); that the former senate majority leader said just a few years ago that the country would have been better off had Strom Thurmond been elected in 1948; and so on. In other words, Americans have yet to repent from the sin of slavery. Half of them still don't admit it was a sin.

So, we do need constant reminders of the horrors perpetuated on our brothers and sisters, horrors for which we're all responsible.
( )
  lgpiper | Jun 21, 2019 |
This book always keeps you guessing. It was very fun to read because it was constantly changing and kept getting more and more exciting. It had a very different mix of history and sci-fi that really kept me on my toes. I would definitely recommend this book to my friends. 4Q4P The cover art is awesome and I'd recommend this to middle school and high school students. I chose to read this book because the history and slavery mentioned on the back caught my attention. ThomasV
  edspicer | Aug 10, 2014 |
Weird. Yes, definitely weird. But I liked it. This story of slavery and redemption is an odd mix of historical fiction and fantasy/science fiction that sits askew in my brain and won't settle down into a comfortable slot. 47 is the protagonist, a young slave without a name on a Southern plantation. He comes under the guidance of another slave called Tall John, who shows him a wider world than he knew existed...a world of freedom, a world free of masters and slaves.

At first the visions seem mystical and dream-like, and they are, but gradually we begin to realize that Tall John is not a slave, not a black man, not a human. The author uses old legends of a mythical man called High John, to weave his Tall John character. But in this story, Tall John is an extraterrestrial who is searching for the human savior in the coming struggle with intergalactic evil. 47 is that savior, but he is not ready yet. Tall John tutors him with powers that seem magical, visions of another world, colorful creatures not of this earth, and ideas of freedom and dignity that seem utterly out of place to the young slave.

Since the story is told at least vaguely in flashback, we are given an idea of the outcome of the struggle, but this story begs for a sequel. The ending is a bit abrupt and there are many questions still to be explored. The juxtaposition of history and science fiction is a little awkward, and the world Tall John comes from is a little sketchy. But the characters are well-rounded and real, the picture of slavery is harsh and realistic, and the setting both mystical and painfully true.

I liked it. I don't exactly know why, but I did. Mosley's writing has always appealed to me. I would recommend this book cautiously, because I know it isn't to everyone's taste. But it goes in an interesting direction much different from anything I expected and I plan to watch Mosely's future titles for more adventure. ( )
1 vote MerryMary | Feb 3, 2014 |
RGG: A story of slavery intersects with science fiction.
  rgruberexcel | Sep 3, 2012 |
47, born a slave on a Georgia plantation, meets Tall John, who claims he has been looking for 47 for his whole life. Strange weave of fantasy/myth/historical fiction. Tall John actually comes from a distant planet and 47 is the hero who will save the Universe. ( )
  lscottke | Apr 23, 2012 |
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For Sally McCartin -- W.M.
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The story you are about to read concerns certain events that occurred in the early days of my life.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316016357, Paperback)

Number 47, a fourteen-year-old slave boy growing up underthe watchful eye of a brutal master in 1832, meets the mysterious TallJohn, who introduces him to a magical science and also teaches him themeaning of freedom.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:46 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Number 47, a fourteen-year-old slave boy growing up under the watchful eye of a brutal master in 1832, meets the mysterious Tall John, who introduces him to a magical science and also teaches him the meaning of freedom.

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