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Walk Through Darkness Paperback – Aug 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Books; Reprint edition (Aug. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038572036X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385720366
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 959,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Anthony Durham is the author of five novels: The Other Lands, Acacia (John W Campbell Award Winner, Finalist for the Prix Imaginales), Pride of Carthage (Finalist for 2006 Legacy Award), Walk Through Darkness (NY Times Notable Book) and Gabriel's Story (NY Times Notable Book, 2002 Legacy Award). His work has been published in the UK and in French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish and Swedish. Three of his novels have been optioned for development as feature films.

He has published short stories is several anthologies, has reviewed for The Washington Post, The Raleigh News & Observer, and has served as a judge for the Pen/Faulkner Awards. David received his MFA in creative writing from the University of Maryland. He has taught at the University of Maryland, the University of Massachusetts, The Colorado College, for the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation, Cal State University, for the Stonecoast MFA Program and at Hampshire College. He lives in Shutesbury, MA.

He has a series of stories in the forthcoming Wild Cards novel, Fort Freak, edited by George RR Martin, and the third volume of the Acacia trilogy is scheduled for US publication late in 2011.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Feb. 2004
Format: Paperback
Walk Through Darkness is a powerful tale of the trials and tribulations of slavery in early American history and how the forces of love, truth and redemption can at times work to right the wrongs of that hateful period.
In his novel, David Anthony Durham tells a story of William, a fugitive slave, who places his life in danger to find his pregnant wife and deliver her to freedom. With little knowledge of his surroundings and only occasional help from random strangers, William travels from down South to Philadelphia. During his travels, William encounters many hardships, which force him to grow into a stronger man. First, he is tricked, then captured, by a group of slave traders and prepared for sale. Forced to endure the cramped quarters and debasing actions of his captors, he begins to lose hope of his goal, only to be freed through a violent uprising, which results in the death of his captors. On the run again, William reaches Baltimore and stows away upon a trading ship, only to be found and once again returned to shackles. It is here, while befriended by the ship's Captain, that William begins to learn the larger lessons of life. With one more chance to reach his goal, he is given the opportunity to escape, and through a stroke of luck, finally ends up in Philadelphia. Hungry, tired and lost, William succumbs to yellow fever and would have died had it not been for the help of a stranger. This Samaritan only asks that he understand her altruistic ways and her desire to help him become a free man. Fully recovered, he discovers his wife's whereabouts and makes plans to rescue her from her surroundings.
Throughout William's journey, we follow a parallel story of a Scottish tracker, Andrew Morrison, who is hired to find, capture, and bring William back to his master in one piece.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 10 Nov. 2002
Format: Hardcover
Though Durham's anti-slavery message provides the framework for this affecting and beautifully written narrative, it is his message of hope and his recognition of the abiding kinship among men, even within the shadows of slavery's cruelty, which are his ultimate lessons. Setting his story just prior to the American Civil War, in and around cities in the mid-Atlantic states, where the ownership of humans was more a convenience than an economic necessity, Durham conveys his story in strong, clean prose, using carefully selected details, rather than emotional language, to power the narrative. His resilient characters give the story the dignity it deserves.
William, owned by the cruel St. John Humboldt, becomes a slave Everyman when he escapes and tries to reach Pennsylvania, a free state where he hopes to find his beloved Dover, who is expecting his child. His travails are those of all slaves, and Durham uses them to show the myriad ways men exert power over others--as well as the ways good men can show their shared humanity. Betrayal, imprisonment, torture, sexual assault, and many other forms of degradation enter the story as William tries to deny his fate. In a parallel narrative, Andrew Morrison, an immigrant whose early experiences in Scotland and America are similar to William's, describes his dogged search for William until they meet in a concluding showdown.
Nature symbolism, most notably that of snakes and crows, combines with some wonderful images ("his eyes were small things, two tadpoles slipped between his eyelids") to give depth and color to Durham's style. Despite his subject matter, he largely avoids sensationalism because he is more concerned with the characters' realistic reactions to horrific events than with descriptions of the horrors themselves--until the end. There the story finally succumbs to melodrama and excessive coincidence in a conclusion that may be a bit too easy to satisfy some of his new fans. Mary Whipple
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 22 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Powerful and Intense 30 Aug. 2002
By Nicole McCurty - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Very rarely do I read novels about slavery, but the excerpt really drew me in. I had to find out what happened to William, a runway slave, in his quest to find his wife, Dover, who has been sent to live with her mistress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (a free state). When William discovers what has happened, he flees with his master, trackers and a mysterious white man hot on his trail. Along the way, William will encounter various people. Some will be of help and others a hindrance, but William is determined to see his love again.
I found myself tearful while reading the atrocities that black men and women were forced to endure in this novel. But this story was about so much more than that. It is an expression of the tenacity of the human spirit to survive even in the worst conditions. It is a representation of a body imprisoned with chains, but a mind free to think and dream. It is a testimony that love can conquer all.
If you want to read a story about slavery, you will like this one. But if you want to read a story of love, hate, kindness, betrayal, hope, tragedy, imprisonment and above all freedom, then you will not be able to put this one down.
Reviewed by Nicole
APOOO BookClub
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
He's really quite good. 27 May 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Gabriel's Story was one of my favorite books of last year. Walk Through Darkness looks like it's gonna be a favorite for this year. This book will probably end up getting compared to other books about slavery, but to me it was more like Cold Mountain - but where the main character is a runaway slave instead of a runaway soldier. There's a similar voyage across a troubled landscape. There are meetings with a variety of characters. Like Charles Frazier's character, William in this novel is on a trek to reunite with the woman he loves - and as such it's a love story. The other main character, Morrison, is one of the best I've come across in a long time. He shows that white immigrants to America also had a tough time of it. He carries internal wounds that come to light only slowly but that build up to a helluva ending.
I'm ashamed to say that when I used to think of great American authors I tended to think of white writers. Not anymore. Mr. Durham is fast earning himself a place among our best. Color has nothing (but also everything) to do with it. Based on the strength of these two books I'd read whatever he writes next. If his third novel was about a mouse trying to chew through a paper bag I'd give it a try... Which is my way of saying that he's really quite good.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
And from the darkness shall come light 27 Jun. 2002
By The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Not every book has the ability to affect the reader as deeply as Walk Through Darkness affected me. David Anthony Durham, author of the critically acclaimed Gabriel's Story, has written a haunting novel about William, a fugitive slave. One may surmise that the force behind William's escape is freedom. Freedom is, of course, part of the reason William flees his harsh laborious conditions. But even moreso is his desire to find Dover, his wife, who is pregnant with his child and has moved North to freedom with her mistress. The story alternates between William's point of view and Morrison's, a Scottish slave tracker. Somehow these three people, who are separated by miles and life experience, are connected.
Durham's writing is refined, articulate, and descriptive. He makes you feel the fear, terror, relief, pain, joy, and a plethora of other emotions felt by the protagonists. The characters are in no way shallow, instead powerfully constructed with a certain profundity. The author uses a historical setting and breathes new life into it, providing the reader with a raw, fresh story in lands never traversed. Transcending race, time, and status, this Walk Through Darkness will make anyone see the light...
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A needed read 8 July 2002
By Roy Schneider Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Walk Through Darkness is a powerful tale of the trials and tribulations of slavery in early American history and how the forces of love, truth and redemption can at times work to right the wrongs of that hateful period.
In his novel, David Anthony Durham tells a story of William, a fugitive slave, who places his life in danger to find his pregnant wife and deliver her to freedom. With little knowledge of his surroundings and only occasional help from random strangers, William travels from down South to Philadelphia. During his travels, William encounters many hardships, which force him to grow into a stronger man. First, he is tricked, then captured, by a group of slave traders and prepared for sale. Forced to endure the cramped quarters and debasing actions of his captors, he begins to lose hope of his goal, only to be freed through a violent uprising, which results in the death of his captors. On the run again, William reaches Baltimore and stows away upon a trading ship, only to be found and once again returned to shackles. It is here, while befriended by the ship's Captain, that William begins to learn the larger lessons of life. With one more chance to reach his goal, he is given the opportunity to escape, and through a stroke of luck, finally ends up in Philadelphia. Hungry, tired and lost, William succumbs to yellow fever and would have died had it not been for the help of a stranger. This Samaritan only asks that he understand her altruistic ways and her desire to help him become a free man. Fully recovered, he discovers his wife's whereabouts and makes plans to rescue her from her surroundings.
Throughout William's journey, we follow a parallel story of a Scottish tracker, Andrew Morrison, who is hired to find, capture, and bring William back to his master in one piece. While his motives are unclear at first, it becomes obvious that Morrison's past history within America has created a man who is at odds with his identity and is wrestling with his quest for redemption. With his trusted hound at his side, Morrison eventually ends up in Philadelphia to find and capture the fugitive slave.
The book ends with a suspenseful account of the various forces that are working for and against William in his quest for freedom. With violence an everyday possibility, many lives are ruined because of their participation in helping an innocent person seek his dream. However, even with powerful currents working against him, William ends up on his way to freedom through the help of many of those who were opposed to the evil of slavery that flowed through American veins.
Walking Through Darkness is a heavy read that yields an enormous amount of satisfaction. It is clear that David Anthony Durham has become a literary force to reckon with and is among the new cadre of African American writers like Paul Beatty, Guy Johnson, and Colson Whitehead, who have brought new stories into the mainstream literary world, without sacrificing their integrity. Once again, Durham has used his deft literary brush to create a tale complete with vivid pictures of life and death during this most turbulent time in American history.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Black and white and gray 9 May 2002
By Ron Franscell, Author of 'The Darkest Night' - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Black and white was never so gray, and gray was never so vibrant as it streams across the pages of David Anthony Durham's new historical novel, "Walk Through Darkness."
While contemporary activists seek slave reparations, Durham explores the complexities of slavery from a modern black man's perspective. It's not a rant, but a contemplative journey in which good is always tainted, bad is never pure, and black and white blend to gray.
The desperate condition of African-Americans before and after the Civil War is Durham recurring theme.
In "Gabriel's Story," the protagonist is a 15-year-old African-American boy in the empty middle of the continent after the Civil War, caught between youth and manhood, naiveté and wisdom, family and flight. It was a classical bildungsroman - a novel about the moral and psychological growth of the main character -- told in masterful prose reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy.
In "Walk Through Darkness," Durham retraces his literary steps in a different landscape and a different time: That troubled slice of America between Virginia and Pennsylvania where slavery and abolition collided in the anxious twilight before the Civil War.
William's story also traces through complex historic and cultural issues. If you were expecting Durham, by virtue of being an African-American, to oversimplify an issue that split America down the middle, you've been reading too many racial polemics. We glimpse extraordinarily humane slave owners, mercenary blacks who gleefully profit from trapping runaways, and a wide array of men and women who are unexpectedly - and refreshingly - conflicted about human bondage.
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