Speeches, Reviews and Notices



Speeches and Editorials by David Blight
A Slave No More: Interviews, Notices and Reviews
Reviews by David Blight
Noted in the Press



Speeches and Editorials by David Blight


The Civil War at 150: The past in the present? (Kansas City Star, Sunday, Aug. 28.)

In Memory's Mirror (The American Interest, September - October, 2011)

Forgetting Why We Remember (New York Times, May 30, 2011)

150 years after Fort Sumter, forces that gave rise to the Civil War still plague modern America (NY Daily News, 4/12/11)

"Gods and Devils Aplenty: Robert Penn Warren's Civil War" (Vanderbilt University, March 24, 2011)

"The Civil War Sesquicentennial" (For the The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 5, 2009)

"First Things," Op-Ed Piece, US News and History News Network

Douglass Prize Dinner Talk, February 28, 2002, Yale Club, New York

Lincoln Prize Talk, April 2, 2002, Union League Club, New York.

"The First Decoration Day" (For the Newark Star Ledger)

Interviews, Notices and Reviews


Audio Book Club on The Killer Angels (Slate) May 31, 2011 • Slate's Audio Book Club discussion of Michael Shaara's Civil War classic, The Killer Angels, with David Blight.

Touch the Elbow - Blogging the Civil War February 14, 2008 • "Having not one, but two previously undiscovered historical manuscripts drop into your lap is the kind of stuff most historians can only dream of."

Book TV on C-SPAN2 February 9, 2008 • "Historian David Blight chronicles the lives of two former slaves, Wallace Turnage and John Washington, whose narratives of emancipation were recently discovered. The book includes each of the men's narratives in its original form. This event was hosted by the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee." [Video Interview • Download Real Player]

Memphis Daily News "Historian's Memphis Visit Presents Complexities of Slavery Emancipation." February 8, 2008 • "Who freed the slaves? The answer is more complex and relevant than the question's simplicity and tense might suggest, author and Yale University history professor David W. Blight said recently."

Minnesota Public Radio. Midmorning with Kerri Miller. January 21, 2008 • "Midmorning looks to history to understand the struggle for civil rights today. Guest: David Blight, Class of 1954 professor of American History at Yale University, and author of A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Narrative of Emancipation." [Real Audio Interview • Download Real Player]

Bloomberg Radio. The World In Time. Lewis H. Lapham interviews David W. Blight. January 10, 2008 • "David Blight is professor of history at Yale University and author of A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Own Narratives of Emancipation (Harcourt, 2007). [mp3 file]

Daily Kos. "Not Born Equal," by Nonpartisan. January 10, 2008 • "What struck me most clearly about David Blight's magnificent new book A Slave No More, which I recently reviewed, was just how close to us the nefarious effects of slavery remain."

Progressive Historians: History For Our Future. "Book Review: David Blight's A Slave No More," by Jeremy Young. January 1, 2008 • "By now, just about everyone in the Civil War history community has read Yale professor David Blight's new book, A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom (Harcourt, 307 pages; $13.75 at Amazon)."

WTNH.com, Connecticut News and Weather. Dec. 22, 2007 • "It's a story of hope for the holidays. It's the story of two slaves and the vivid accounts of their quest for freedom. Yale Professor of American History David Blight has compiled the lost manuscripts in a new book called A Slave No More."

Charlotte Observer. "A New Birth of Freedom: Author Presents Lives of 2 Escaped Slaves as Symbols of 'Glorious' Liberation," by John David Smith. December 15, 2007 • "Blight's remarkable new A Slave No More unveils the lives and post-emancipation narratives of two escaped slaves, John M. Washington (1838-1918) and Wallace Turnage (1846-1916). Blight's book underscores as never before the emancipationist historical memory of slavery and the Civil War.

WINA, Charlottesville-Right Now! David Blight on Slave Narratives, by Coy Barefoot. December 8, 2007 • "Slave narratives are extremely rare, with only 55 post-Civil War narratives surviving with only a handful of those in the first-person. Two newly discovered accounts and the biographies of the men who wrote them join that exclusive group with the publication of the new book A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom. The author of the book, David Blight of Yale University, joins Coy Barefoot on WINA's 'Charlottesville-Right Now!' to talk about the work." [18 Minute Podcast]

Books of The Times. "Freedom Just Ahead: The War Within the Civil War," by William Grimes. December 5, 2007 • "The chaos of Civil War meant only one thing to America's four million slaves: hope. With armies on the march, and the old social order crumbling, men like John Washington and Wallace Turnage seized the moment and made a break for freedom, issuing their own emancipation proclamations before the fact. They were 'quiet heroes of a war within the war to destroy slavery', as David W. Blight puts it in A Slave No More."

Fresh Air from WHYY. December 4, 2007 • "In A Slave No More, historian David W. Blight showcases the emancipation narratives of two men, one from Alabama and one from Virginia. Manuscripts written by Wallace Turnage and John Washington, and genealogical information compiled by Blight, combine to tell the stories of their lives as slaves and their harrowing flights to freedom." The website includes a 33 minute audio interview with David Blight and an excerpt from A Slave No More.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "How to Be a Runaway Slave in 2007," by Tony Norman. December 4, 2007 • "There's something very American about slave narratives. Nothing testifies to the resilience and ingenuity of a once-enslaved people like first-person accounts detailing a harrowing run to freedom." [Editorial]

WNYC New York Public Radio. The Leonard Lopate Show: Ex-Slaves Tell Their Stories. November 26, 2007 • "Only a handful of first-person accounts by American slaves who ran away and freed themselves are known to exist. Two of those accounts, by former slaves Wallace Turnage (1846-1916) and John Washington (1838-1918), have now been published in a new book by historian David Blight, called A Slave No More." The site includes a 32 minute interview with David Blight.

The (Fredericksburg, Virginia) Free Lance-Star. "Newly Discovered Memoirs Open a Closed Chapter of a Slave's Life," by Rusty Dennen. November 25, 2007 • "In the spring of 1862, slave John Washington stood along the Fredericksburg shore of the Rappahannock River, about to embark on what he had yearned for all his life — his journey to freedom."

Barnes & Noble.com. "Review: A Slave No More by David W. Blight," by Barbara Spindel. November 20, 2007 • "The 'great man' version of American history teaches that Lincoln freed the slaves, but scholars have long debated the 16th president's role in emancipation.

Washington Post. "Who Really Freed America's Slaves?" by Jonathan Yardley. November 18, 2007 • "In American mythology, the freeing of the slaves is a top-to-bottom affair: Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, and after that it was up to government to ensure their rights, though for about a century government didn't exactly do a good job of it. David W. Blight makes plain that it never was as simple as that."

Civil War Memory. "Walking the Road from Slavery to Freedom With John Washington," by Kevin Levin. November 18, 2007 • "David Blight touched on the importance of Washington's narrative and the story of how two slave narratives ended up 'on his lap'." A history blog entry by Kevin Levin, a High School History Teacher and Civil War historian.

WGBH Forum Network November 15, 2007 • "Bancroft Prize-winner David Blight, professor of history at Yale University and author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory discusses his latest work." [Real Audio Interview, recorded at the Georgia Center for the Book • Download Real Player]

CourtTVnews.com. "A Slave No More: Historian David Blight on Two Newly Published Slave Narratives." November 14, 2007 • "In his new book, A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Blight tells the stories and reprints the narratives of Wallace Turnage, who escaped from a plantation in Alabama and John Washington, an urban slave from Virginia. David Blight is also director Yale's Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition.

Amazon's Significant Seven"David Blight's A SLAVE NO MORE is a November 'Significant 7' title on Amazon! November 13, 2007 • "Most Americans have learned about the history of slavery and emancipation in the United States through a haphazard combination of grade-school textbooks, Hollywood films, and one of the most-watched TV miniseries of all time."

History News Network. Roundup: Talking About History. "David Blight: How He Came to Write A Slave No More." November 12, 2007 • "John Washington, a twenty-four-year-old urban slave in Fredericksburg, Virginia, escaped across the Rappahannock River to Union army lines in April 1862 by ingenuity, skillful deception, and courage."

News for Peacemakers. "The Riveting Stories of Two Former Slaves," by Marjorie Kehe. November 6, 2007 • "'Slave narratives, some of the most powerful records of our past, are extremely rare', David Blight tells us on the first page of A Slave No More. Only 55 post-Civil War narratives exist and of these, Blight notes, 'a mere handful' are first-person accounts by slaves who ran away and freed themselves."

Boston Globe. "Souls on Ice," by James Smethurst. November 4, 2007 • "For many years historians in the United States, even scholars who challenged the relatively benign view of slavery and harsh view of Reconstruction that dominated the academy until at least the 1950s, were reluctant to draw on the testimony of the slaves themselves as found in their personal narratives."

Library Journal (October 15, 2007)

Kirkus Review

Publishers Weekly

Reviews by David Blight

The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama, by David Remnick. Alfred A. Knopf, 2010 (The San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, April 11, 2010).

Confederate Emancipation: Southern Plans to Free and Arm Slaves During the Civil War, by Bruce Levine. Oxford University Press, 2005, 252 pages (Washington Post Book World).

Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters, by Elizabeth Brown Pryor. Viking, 2007. (Washington Post Book World).

John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights, by David S. Reynolds. Knopf, 549 pages (Washington Post).

Democracy Reborn: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Fight for Equal Rights in Post-Civil War America, by Garrett Epps. Henry Holt, 2006, 352 pages (Chicago Tribune).

Lincoln's Constitution, by Daniel Farber. University of Chicago Press, 2003 (Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities).

Slavery and the Making of America, (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Noted in the Press

"Douglass statue welcomed home" (Becca Newell, The Star Democrat, 6/19/11)
EASTON - Before the unveiling of the Frederick Douglass statue Saturday morning, keynote speaker David Blight, director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale University, spoke briefly about Douglass' life and the significance of the statue, which now proudly stands on the Talbot County Courthouse lawn. See http://www.stardem.com/news/local_news/article_190807cc-9a6b-11e0-9ec2-001cc4c002e0.html

A Moment for the Ages, Many Years in the Making: Forces Great and Small Led to Historic Election

By Robert G. Kaiser
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 10, 2008

David Blight, a Yale historian, has a useful definition: People feel history is being made by events that they realize at once will alter their own lives. "What an extraordinary moment of collective memory we are having!" he says on the telephone from New Haven, Conn.