Author: Jared Brock
Genre: Christian Living/Memoir
This sweeping biography about the man who was the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin is an epic tale of courage and bravery in the face of unimaginable trials.
The Road to Dawn tells the improbable story of Josiah Henson-a dynamic, driven man with exceptional intelligence and unyielding principles, who overcame incredible odds to escape from slavery and improve the lives of hundreds of freedmen throughout his long life. He was immortalized by Harriet Beecher Stowe in her 1852 novel Uncle Tom's Cabin and catapulted to international fame, though his story has been lost to history. Until now.
The book chronicles Henson's forty-two years spent in bondage and his eventual escape with his wife and four young children, carrying the youngest two on his broken shoulders for 600 miles, eventually settling with his family as a free man across the border in Canada. Once there, Henson rescued 118 more slaves, including his own brother, and purchased land to build what would become one of the final stops on the Underground Railroad, a 500-person freeman settlement called Dawn.
The Road to Dawn retraces Henson's path from slavery to freedom and restores a hero of the abolitionist movement to his rightful place in history.
The Road to Dawn was a good read, a reminder of how distorted humankind's perception of justice can be combined with the inspiring life of a great man.
The style of the book is easy to read, and obviously thoroughly researched, with lots of references and footnotes to add extra information and clarify accuracy. It follows the life of Josiah Henson, a black slave whose character was part of the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom. I appreciated the honesty with which his story was told. The author didn't glorify him or avoid inclusion of his mistakes and shortcomings, but he painted a picture of a man who had a heart for his fellows, a compassion and noble ambition for those mistreated, a respect for others, and a thankfulness for the opportunities he had in life. It was inspiring to read of his endless labours - speaking, traveling, fundraising, and at home - and yet none of them were for the benefit of himself. His faith was the core of his life.
It was also interesting to learn more about 'Uncle Tom's Cabin,' the statistics around its publication and the impact it had to raise awareness and bring sympathy.
I really appreciated the author's epilogue and comparison to present day slavery in all its forms. It was sobering, but refreshing to hear someone speak the truth instead of glibly saying slavery ended years ago. His call to honour Josiah Henson was. It was also cool to see how the title was woven into the story, right up until the end.
Personally, I was inspired by this story to be the person that steps out for others, to live like God is real and lives matter, and to have a greater appreciation for the freedom I enjoy. It wasn't an easy read - there's violence and hard to swallow facts, but it was a good reminder. There were a few rare uses of minor swear words if that offends anyone. Overall, I'm glad to have read this book and learned more about history and the man Josiah Henson.
I'm grateful to the author for providing me with a free copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
I never realized how much I didn't know about Uncle Tom's Cabin until I read Jared Brock's book The Road to Dawn. To think that I grew up in such a historical area and yet the schools I attended ignored it. It makes me somewhat angry to have that part of history, especially in the town I grew up in, overlooked merely because of a person's skin colour. But Brock did an incredible job of tracing the life story of Josiah Henson (known as Uncle Tom) and managed to keep me riveted to the very end.
Josiah Henson was an incredible man trapped in slavery. Harriet Beecher Stowe based her book, Uncle Tom's Cabin, on him. His escape from slavery, along with his devotion to God, shaped the rest of his life as he worked to abolish slavery.
Brock has done an extensive job retracing Josiah's history. I commend him for the obvious long hours of research he put into this book. It shows. Amazingly, in the 21st century, we are still dealing with slavery in many parts of the world. We need a book like this. It needs to be part of our high school curriculum. It should be mandatory. This is one book you need to read.