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Uncle Tom's Children (P.S.) [Paperback]

Richard Wright , Richard Yarborough
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 8.33 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Uncle Tom's Children (P.S.) + The Outsider (P.S.) + Native Son (Vintage Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 269 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061450200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061450204
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.5 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 507,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Star of the Three Magi 21 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback
This author is a myth in Black literature and in American literature and I insist on the fact that he is part of the American literary heritage, not just Black, far from it. I must say fifty years ago or so I read most of the books by the Black writers of the 1930s and later decades as Black literature. I studied them at the university as Black literature, but in 1972-73 I taught Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man" as part of my syllabus of English literature at the University of California at Davis (UCD) and for me then and since then these writers were and have been part of the American heritage, and even part of the English literary heritage.

The second remark is that I read many of these books in the late 1960 in North Carolina. I read them as Black literature and my first reaction was the horror and horrible treatments they were telling about and whose victims were the Blacks. Such way to treat other human beings was just nauseating and there was no other possible reaction but to condemn as inhumane and inhuman the whites who dared treat other people like that; and there was no acceptable reason to submit these human beings to that violence and that obnoxious torture. It was a time when I was supporting Angela Davis in her underground fight against the FBI. It was a time when I just could not consider as human the people who pretended to be the KKK and they could only "pretend" for me because to be KKK was just to proclaim you were nothing, nothing but a mask, nothing but a puppet, nothing but a vacuous non-entity. My attitude was rejection and I was following their demise by American society and their being outlawed little by little, and by far too slowly to my taste.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  29 reviews
50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars racism stripped naked 20 Mar 2000
By T. Bekken - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Uncle Tom's Children is probably one of the most brutal books ever written on the topic of racism and racial oppression. The stories sneak their way into the far back of the reader's mind, and forces one to confront the racism latent within oneself. That is by no means a small feat for a book to accomplish, and it makes the reading both painful and powerful, sa well as infinitely rewarding. Personally, I don't recall ever having seen the ugliness of racism so brilliantly treated in any other work of literature, bar none. The addition of the autobiographical sketch and the extra story in some editions of this book is just a bonus, and does not decrease the value or importance of this masterpiece.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful stories about injustice 7 Mar 2006
By K.A.Goldberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This 1938 collection of short stories by Richard Wright (1908-1960) was the first book the author had published. Wright had a remarkable talent for description, and he makes the reader feel as if alongside the main characters as the stories play out. These stories detail racial discrimination and oppression in the Deep South during the 1930's. I particularly liked his story about a flood that led to blacks being conscripted at gunpoint to work on the levee (and a tragic shooting that followed), plus his story about a planned hunger march that went against the wishes of the local (racist) government. Each story attacks southern racial injustice in a concise and powerful manner.

Two years after this book was published, Wright burst into fame with NATIVE SON, and he followed a few years later with BLACK BOY and THE OUTSIDER. This collection of short stories isn't Wright's best work, but it demonstrates the author's budding talent.
31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, Stimulating, Brutally Honest Writing 7 Aug 2000
By Sheldon S. Kohn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The Library of America consistently produces wonderful volumes, and Richard Wright's "Early Works" is a strong member of the set. As I worked my way through this volume, I found myself re-thinking questions I have put aside for a while, challenging attitudes that I have acquired as part of our zeitgeist. I did not find that much of interest in "Lawd Today!" and "Uncle Tom's Children," the first two selections in the volume. Perhaps I will take another look at them in the future. However, "Native Son" was a revelation to me, and I found it amazing.
As a student of Mississippi literature, as well as a native Mississippian, I am surprised that I had not read "Native Son" before. I wonder what response Wright might expect me (a white Mississippian) to have to his work. The answer is not as simple as one might think. Growing up in Mississippi, I worked as a dishwasher. I ran errands for people who looked down on me and wanted me to act stupid and grateful. I felt the harsh sting of minor capitalists zealously defending their tiny empires. Like Wright, I grew up in a single-parent household with extremely limited resources. Like Wright, I never had a feeling that "the system" wanted to do anything but keep me in my place. Like Wright, I looked around to see that my people were limited by their ignorance and fear. For all of our differences, white and black Mississippians have far more in common than most people want to admit. It is part of what makes us such a fertile field for literature.
The easy response for a white person, Mississippian or not, is simply to be reactionary, to allow "Native Son" to confirm easy stereotypes. In "How `Bigger' Was Born," Wright acknowledges that one of the dangers he faced in writing "Native Son" was that those who are pre-disposed to see Bigger as typical of "those people" in general and of blacks in particular would find unequivocal confirmation of their prejudices. Wright must have been constantly tempted to avoid writing with such brutal honesty.
However, it is this honesty that forms the core of Wright's artistic achievement and makes his work enduring, almost prophetic. Bigger Thomas represents a type that still exists in plentitude. In "How `Bigger' Was Born," Wright explicitly makes the point that Bigger represents a type that is both black and white, a person growing up in the land of plenty without prospects or hope, without enough education to replace instinct with rational calculation. Unable to participate and without a place, our Biggers simply want to blot out everything and everyone from the face of the earth. Some of them unknowingly follow Bigger's example and kill what they think is killing them.
I think I see Bigger every day on the black streets of Atlanta. A close relative of Bigger lives in the white trailer parks in our suburbs. Bigger acts every time a teenager commits a senseless murder, every time a child shoots up a school. I hear an analysis of Bigger when a demagogue politician says that we should just lock them up and throw away the key.
The Biggers of the world are irretrievably lost. As Wright clearly shows, there is no way to cure or save or even rehabilitate such people. Even at the hour of their death, they will not understand context, never know why they act as they do, always returning to the basest of emotions for self-justification. They continue to kill out of fear, and we continue to fear them.
People used to think that they knew how to prevent more Biggers from appearing, how we might save those not yet lost. There was hope that we could change things so that there would be no more Biggers. It turns out that we have Biggers aplenty and more arising every day. Perhaps we always will. No one seems to care any more.
This volume affected me greatly, and I think that it will repay several close readings. It is a definite keeper, well worth the price.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting Masterpiece of Social Exposure and Racial Injustice 12 Jan 2007
By Juilan A. Dotson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If white people today have any doubts of the harsh treatment of blacks in the 1900's, read this book. As a matter of fact, read the first 20 pages.
I teach this book to my 10th grade English class and my kids love this book! It is an easy read because the stories are so gripping, and the dialogue is written in the southern vernacular of the time. The main reason why high school students need this book now is because not only are the black students losing sight of the past and appreciation for the efforts of black people, but the white students are unaware of the greatest crime in American History after slavery, Jim Crow Ethics. The Hispanic students, Asian students, African students, Indian students and countless other students from different parts of the world also need to read literature that enhances their knowledge of the brutal history of Americans.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Brutality of Jim Crow 3 Mar 2009
By JMack - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Perhaps nothing was more appropriate about this restored text than placing "The Ethics of Jim Crow" in its rightful place at the front of this short story collection. Richard Wright used the brief autobiographical essay as a device to state that the short stories included in this set are not far from the truth. The racism during his time period was brutal. These short stories are meant to be emblematic of the brutality of the period.

The set begins with the short story "Big Boy Leaves Home". To many readers, this may seem to resemble "Native Son" and could be thought of as an early draft. The story finds an African-American adolescent forced to leave home in order to save his life after a local white man is killed at the river. "Down by the Riverside" takes place during a flood. To save his pregnant wife, who has taken ill, the main character steals a boat. This story may be the most compelling in the set because of a choice the main character is forced to make. To honestly decide what he/she might do under the circumstances, the reader must look deep into his/her soul.

"Long Black Song" explores the sexual exploitation that African-American endured during this period. Like so many other characters in Wright's stories, one senses that the main character is trapped in a situation in which she is destined to fail. As the story progresses, the greed of exploiters puts even more people in "no win" situations.

"Fire and Cloud" and "Bright Morning Star" show Wright to be far from timid in his leftist leanings. The first story involves a community choice, while the second is more of an individual choice. Because the plots of these short stories follow a similar path to failure, Wright hardly seems to be endorsing communism.

Each of these stories is raw in its unfliching ability to tell an honest story. Wright does not shy away from uncomfortable details. With a general sense of hopelessness that extends to a point where the reader must know the main character will fail, the reader may find himself/herself too engrossed in the details to flinch.
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