All God's Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw

6 Nov

All God's Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw

All God's Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw

Language: English

Pages: 600

ISBN: 0226727742

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

All God's Dangers won the National Book Award in 1975.

"There are only a few American autobiographies of surpassing greatness. . . . Now there is another one, Nate Shaw's."—New York Times

"On a cold January morning in 1969, a young white graduate student from Massachusetts, stumbling along the dim trail of a long-defunct radical organization of the 1930s, the Alabama Sharecropper Union, heard that there was a survivor and went looking for him. In a rural settlement 20 miles or so from Tuskegee in east-central Alabama he found him—the man he calls Nate Shaw—a black man, 84 years old, in full possession of every moment of his life and every facet of its meaning. . . . Theodore Rosengarten, the student, had found a black Homer, bursting with his black Odyssey and able to tell it with awesome intellectual power, with passion, with the almost frightening power of memory in a man who could neither read nor write but who sensed that the substance of his own life, and a million other black lives like his, were the very fiber of the nation's history." —H. Jack Geiger, New York Times Book Review

"Extraordinarily rich and compelling . . . possesses the same luminous power we associate with Faulkner." —Robert Coles,Washington Post Book World

"Eloquent and revelatory. . . . This is an anthem to human endurance." —Studs Terkel, New Republic

"The authentic voice of a warm, brave, and decent individual. . . . A pleasure to read. . . . Shaw's observations on the life and people around him, clothed in wonderfully expressive language, are fresh and clear."—H.W. Bragdon, Christian Science Monitor

"Astonishing . . . Nate Shaw was a formidable bearer of memories. . . . Miraculously, this man's wrenching tale sings of life's pleasures: honest work, the rhythm of the seasons, the love of relatives and friends, the stubborn persiste













wasn’t they nice fish?” Well, they trucked me out of Wilcox County and assigned me to Wetumpka, women’s prison, and I made some fish baskets there. Took em out and put em in the Coosa River. But somebody stole em and I didn’t catch a fish for ten years. ONE day there at Wilcox County, road camp, a fellow died—they called him Blue, dark, dark colored fellow, a young fellow too. I helped to bury him. Took men out from Captain Springer’s squad and Captain MacGinnes’s—the dog man, he looked after

He come to the prison office one mornin and Captain Carter told him they didn’t want him there—the state done paid him his last. I never heard no more about him after that. NIGGER named John, two-fingered man, he was sent up to Wetumpka from Kilby—that weren’t nothin but a slaughter pen, strop men till the last breath gone from em, then they commenced settin em in the lectric chair. So this two-fingered Negro, called him John Barbour, every finger was off of his right hand but the little finger

of the field south of him. Vernon and Garvan, and also Eugene helped before he left from here goin to Ohio. All three of them boys lent in and went up yonder on their mother’s daddy’s old place and cut logs. Trucked them logs into Beanville and sawed em for so much of the lumber. And we hired Preston Courteney, a makeshift carpenter, the boy that squandered the Courteney place after his parents died, and lost it to Mr. Grace—he come over there and laid the foundation. And I come from the Leeds

“Uh-uh, uh-uh, not this darky. What he works and makes he carries it home to his wife and children.” Mr. Ed took him up before he could get the words out of his mouth. I don’t know who that white man was, meddlin and throwin off on me because it looked like I was a Negro. But I didn’t let it worry me, I couldn’t: it was too common, too common. I just went on my way. Somedays I’d get ready and unload there at the planer in Apafalya, I’d drive around up through town, fasten my mules to where that

his little butt off with a switch if he didn’t gather that cotton. You’d find some industrious white people that would work like colored; they was poor people, they’d get out there and pick. But ones that didn’t care so much about stoopin down and pickin cotton, their cotton got ready—the little nigger chaps wasn’t goin to school; scoop em up like flies and put em in the field. Picked cotton in a sack—that’s how we done it in this country, and other cotton countries I’ve heard spoke of. Put a

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