Come August, Come Freedom: The Bellows, The Gallows, and The Black General Gabriel

Come August, Come Freedom: The Bellows, The Gallows, and The Black General Gabriel

An 1800 insurrection planned by a literate slave known as "Prosser’s Gabriel" inspires a historical novel following one extraordinary man’s life.In a time of post-Revolutionary fervor in Richmond, Virginia, an imposing twenty-four-year-old slave named Gabriel, known for his courage and intellect, plotted a rebellion involving thousands of African- American freedom seekers...

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Title:Come August, Come Freedom: The Bellows, The Gallows, and The Black General Gabriel
Author:Gigi Amateau
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Edition Language:English

Come August, Come Freedom: The Bellows, The Gallows, and The Black General Gabriel Reviews

  • Rosemary

    I love this book for so many reasons: I've always been interested in the revolutionary time period, and the author does a masterful job of slipping you right down in that place in history. The characters really come alive; I fell in love with Gabriel, and loved that he was a well educated slave with fire in his belly. Highly recommend this book to anyone who loves historical books that take you far back in time but drive right to the heart, since the heart is timeless.

  • Susann Cokal

    A wonderful book about a significant and almost legendary event in American history. Amateau takes legend back into truth and shows us the people at the heart of one of the most significant slave uprisings ever. And she brings the era to life in a way I've seen no other writer do.

  • Patricia Smith

    I loved this book! I found myself completely immersed in the time period of Revolutionary War America and completely drawn in by all the characters and by the charismatic Gabriel in particular. In a book that could be in danger of instructing us what to think, Gigi Amateau wisely and beautifully lets Gabriel's story reveal itself via her characters. COME AUGUST, COME FREEDOM is a compelling read and a gripping story about an important moment in American and Virginian history. In addition -- it's

    I loved this book! I found myself completely immersed in the time period of Revolutionary War America and completely drawn in by all the characters and by the charismatic Gabriel in particular. In a book that could be in danger of instructing us what to think, Gigi Amateau wisely and beautifully lets Gabriel's story reveal itself via her characters. COME AUGUST, COME FREEDOM is a compelling read and a gripping story about an important moment in American and Virginian history. In addition -- it's a beautiful book that effectively incorporates historical documents. This is how history should be taught!

  • Ian King

    Enter into the world of black slaves and their free spirits, which were yet trapped in the white men's cruelty. This story was a fantastic view into the world of corruption and greed of the historic black slaves markets. Gabriel was named after the angel of the Bible who announced things to come. He was raised in a hut with his family and was to be the man to continue his fathers fight for freedom, which he achieved, to a degree. After being sold into a black smiths shop and taken under the wing

    Enter into the world of black slaves and their free spirits, which were yet trapped in the white men's cruelty. This story was a fantastic view into the world of corruption and greed of the historic black slaves markets. Gabriel was named after the angel of the Bible who announced things to come. He was raised in a hut with his family and was to be the man to continue his fathers fight for freedom, which he achieved, to a degree. After being sold into a black smiths shop and taken under the wing of biggest man he had ever seen, Jacob, a friend of his lost father, Gabriel learns the black smith trade and is soon recognised throughout the free world, as an expert in the trade. As he grows and hones his skills at the hammer, he dreams of freedom and plans how he's going to get there. As a black man who can read, he becomes a powerful force, driven by his love for his 'to-be' wife Nan and the unashamed wild spirit that will never be conquered.

    He puts his life on the line and makes his dash for freedom, raising an army to join him into a better future.

    I listened to the audiobook version, which was so well narrated by J. D. Jackson's authentic voice that is resonated into me as if I was there myself.

    A thoroughly enjoyable story, although the end was not what I had expected...

  • Powder River Rose

    I can imagine this being passed down through time to become a legend or bedtime story, then the research is done and it becomes real. Gigi Amateau has done more than a little research as well as added details to bring this real life historical event back to life. An excellent story and history lesson about one particular slave family in the late 1700’s America that is extremely well narrated by JD Jackson, I will remember his voice. Written for teens but a read that will be good for anyone.

  • Arlena

    Author: Gigi Amateau

    Published By: Candlewick Press

    Age Recommended: Adult

    Reviewed By: Arlena Dean

    Book Blog For: GMTA

    Rating: 4

    Review:

    "Come August, Come Freedom: The Bellows, The Gallows, and The Black General Gabriel was really some read for me. As I continued my read I wondered if I could make it through it and I did. This author did a wonderful job with this storyline. I will say she did a great job with all the characters that really added much to "Come August, Come Freedom. I felt that this w

    Author: Gigi Amateau

    Published By: Candlewick Press

    Age Recommended: Adult

    Reviewed By: Arlena Dean

    Book Blog For: GMTA

    Rating: 4

    Review:

    "Come August, Come Freedom: The Bellows, The Gallows, and The Black General Gabriel was really some read for me. As I continued my read I wondered if I could make it through it and I did. This author did a wonderful job with this storyline. I will say she did a great job with all the characters that really added much to "Come August, Come Freedom. I felt that this was a well done dialog of a fictional account of this conspiracy of a slave know as Gabriel Posser. This slave was born in 1776 in Virginia...later to be hung in late October 1800. It was not a happy novel for me but I did make it through

    because this author did a good job in bringing it to the reader mainly to be know by a few historians and some folklorists. Yes, I have even heard of this person and even the song 'Posser Gabriel'. Now

    this read is not for everyone...so be aware of that in choosing the title. Do your research.

    I believe the author did a OK job with this story and if you are in for a read that may not have a happy ending but I am sure it may have happened. History like this have played this way for some of us.

  • Jill

    This beautiful but tragic story is based on actual events relating to the slave Gabriel, who had the temerity, in 18th Century Virginia, to dream of freedom.

    The author imagines Gabriel’s interior life, based on what is known about his actual circumstances. Born into slavery on a tobacco plantation in 1776, Gabriel was taught to read and write. As he grew up and acquired the skills of a blacksmith, he was also hired out to Richmond to bring in more money for his master. There he interacted with f

    This beautiful but tragic story is based on actual events relating to the slave Gabriel, who had the temerity, in 18th Century Virginia, to dream of freedom.

    The author imagines Gabriel’s interior life, based on what is known about his actual circumstances. Born into slavery on a tobacco plantation in 1776, Gabriel was taught to read and write. As he grew up and acquired the skills of a blacksmith, he was also hired out to Richmond to bring in more money for his master. There he interacted with free blacks and white laborers and heard not only the ideas of freedom and equality touted by the American Revolution, but of the successful uprising in Saint Domingue led by black slaves that culminated in the end of slavery there. Why, he asked, couldn’t that happen in America?

    He recruited others, and worked on obtaining weapons. Their rebellion was scheduled to start August 30, 1800. Not only did a torrential rain intervene, but two slaves confessed the plan to their masters. Many of the conspirators were caught, some were executed, and some were exiled to other states. A rare few were pardoned. Gabriel of course was not among them, and was hanged on October 10.

    Ms. Amateau tries to recreate not only Gabriel’s thoughts during his life, but the reactions of his mother and later his wife, Nanny, to the exceptional man that Gabriel grew up to be. Nanny, as courageous as her husband, also participated in the planning for the rebellion. The author includes reproductions, interspersed throughout the text, of documents from the time relating to Gabriel’s rebellion, capture, sentencing, and execution.

    The plotline of this book and of Gabriel’s true story were only bearable for me because, unlike a movie or television production, there are no

    of violence, and no actual faces I could attach to those who would perpetuate slavery (with the notable exception of James Monroe, then Governor of Virginia). It is

    to be a book you can bear, and yet – it is hard. The prose is lovely, and explicit evils of slavery are kept to a minimum, but the pain and awfulness of slavery cannot be hidden. Nor should it be! It is a real enough story, and should be told; should be

    . Research notes are appended to the text.

    While this book is being marketed as Middle Grade, I didn’t see any reason why it could not also or alternatively be labeled Young Adult

    Adult.

    Highly recommended!

    On August 30, 2007 Governor Tim Kane informally pardoned Gabriel, saying that his motivation had been "his devotion to the ideals of the American revolution — it was worth risking death to secure liberty."

  • Marg

    If you like historical fiction, then you should read Come August, Come Freedom, a story set in Richmond, Virginia in a time of post-Revolutionary fervor.

    With expertise, a poetic writing style and extensive primary source documents, the author uses factual historical events to tell the story of a planned but unsuccessful freedom seekers' insurrection led by Gabriel, an imposing and literate 24 year old African-American slave. She reimagines his childhood and his private life and gives shape and l

    If you like historical fiction, then you should read Come August, Come Freedom, a story set in Richmond, Virginia in a time of post-Revolutionary fervor.

    With expertise, a poetic writing style and extensive primary source documents, the author uses factual historical events to tell the story of a planned but unsuccessful freedom seekers' insurrection led by Gabriel, an imposing and literate 24 year old African-American slave. She reimagines his childhood and his private life and gives shape and life to a little known but important historical event in the history of the country.

    The story gives the reader a new awareness of the ugly reality of slavery, where people were bought and sold, dehumanised, punished, had no self-determination and were regarded as property.

    At the heart of the book is the love story of Nanny and Gabriel and their shared belief in the idea of freedom.

    By walking a mile in the shoes of the main characters, this book would certainly give History and English students an insight into the times, as well as the nature of slavery and freedom fighting. A highly recommended read for historical fiction lovers.

  • TheBookSmugglers

    In 1800, in Richmond, Virginia, a twenty-four-year-old literate slave known as Prosser’s Gabriel planned an insurrection involving thousands of African-Americans freedom seekers. The rebellion did not succeed – a mixture of bad weather and betrayal prevented the revolt from even starting – and Gabriel, as well as a few of his co-conspirators, was executed. Come August, Come Freedom was inspired by this moment in history and is a reimagining of Gabriel’s early life as well as his motivations base

    In 1800, in Richmond, Virginia, a twenty-four-year-old literate slave known as Prosser’s Gabriel planned an insurrection involving thousands of African-Americans freedom seekers. The rebellion did not succeed – a mixture of bad weather and betrayal prevented the revolt from even starting – and Gabriel, as well as a few of his co-conspirators, was executed. Come August, Come Freedom was inspired by this moment in history and is a reimagining of Gabriel’s early life as well as his motivations based on historical evidence and the extensive trial documents available. Here, Gigi Amateau imagines his private life and intersperses the story with facsimiles of historical documents.

    Her own motivation for writing this story is simple:

    By immersing myself in the history and documents related to Gabriel, I eventually realized that if Gabriel’s story is to be lifted up as an essential American story, then we all must tell this story over and over again so that Gabriel’s story takes its place in our canon of defining moments. Many founding heroes, sheroes, and patriots have become part of America’s collective story. Tales of such people teach us something and exemplify the qualities we admire in our great citizens. Gabriel’s Rebellion reveals so much of the thinking of our leaders in the early days of America, the rampant liberty fever that was worldwide by 1800, and how enslaved people were engaged in the pursuit of freedom and the call to end to slavery long before the Civil War broke out. To me, Gabriel and Nan’s story ought to join our larger American story of freedom-loving patriots who lived and sacrificed for the cause of our liberty.

    As such, Come August, Come Freedom succeeds and surpasses what it set out to do – Gabriel and his wife Nanny indeed come to life as heroic freedom fighters. It presents Gabriel as a man of his time, immersed in the ideas of freedom circulating both within America (in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War) and from abroad (in Haiti, black slaves had just fought for their freedom – and won). The book also presents an interesting context for this particular rebellion and how it could have possibly come to be in terms of its organising. At that particular point in time in Virginia, many slaves had a certain degree of mobility: slaves from different plantations were allowed to assemble every Sunday, slaves could be hired out (a way for owners to make some extra money, but also afforded the slaves to save money for themselves and possibly buy their own eventual freedom). Also, some slaves were literate. These different opportunities meant that slaves, like Gabriel, could meet and plan, organizing their rebellion. After the failed uprising, however, Virginia passed new laws that forbade those ‘freedoms’ to prevent future rebellions.

    It is known that Gabriel, the historical figure and protagonist of this book, was literate and that he was also a skilled blacksmith. Amateau posits the idea that he would have trained in the city of Richmond where he would have come to hear revolutionary ideas that would fuel his dream of freedom with hope.

    Beyond the research behind the book, there is the beautiful, almost poetic writing and the realistic depiction of characters. The book’s opening immediately sets the tone, beginning on a Sunday morning as Gabriel’s ma (one of the few invented characters in the text, as we know nothing about his mother) prepares to nurse her own child after spending the whole week first feeding her master’s son Henry, Gabriel’s milk brother:

    She stretched out long in the grass and nursed her six-month-old son

    without interruption. After a while, Gabriel opened his walnut eyes, and Ma gave him her other breast. On some Sundays, he got his fair share. Ma stroked Gabriel’s troubled brow.

    “Eat all you like, child. Take what’s yours.”

    Although this is a thoroughly invented scene that employs the author’s poetic license, the core idea of awareness about the utterly ugly reality of slavery, conveyed in this scene, is one that pervades the entire book; it is a reality that we can imagine informed Gabriel’s real life. It is perfectly, horrifically, conceivable that Gabriel’s experiences growing up on the plantation where his family and friends lived and suffered, where he witnessed families being torn apart with the sale of a son or wife to a different estate, also made a huge impact. There is no “good, benevolent master” here, on the account that there is no such a thing as a “good” owner of slaves. There is no happy slave either – although there are those slaves who, hopeless, have accepted their lot in life.

    The story here is both beautiful and heartbreaking. This is a book for children and I appreciated that it doesn’t shy away from the brutality and the truth of slavery at all. One of the most impacting scenes is Nan’s memories of the humiliating moment when she was up for sale in Richmond, dehumanised and treated like a broodmare.

    In terms of the actual writing and plotting of the book, Come August, Come Freedom is a bit vacillating and episodic – perhaps due to the lack of factual information. It takes several liberties when it comes to exploring the possible internal motivations for Gabriel’s rebellions and with his personal life, and spends little time on the actual organisation of the upraising. That said, I understand the choice to reflect the man rather than the leader.

    A huge part of the book depicts Gabriel’s love for his wife Nanny, and this is a beautiful love story. An even greater part of the book depicts their shared love for the idea of freedom. And that’s the most beautiful thing of all.

  • Karen ⊰✿

    Human slavery is just so abhorrent it makes these books difficult to read. But if we don't, we may forget these dark times and the generational impacts.

    Here the author re-imagines the life of "General Gabirel" who was executed for attempting to stage a rebellion. An important story, but still a difficult one to read.

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