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

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hisself. The trials was just a sham, just a sham, both of em. I might tell em everything just like it was but they’d kick against me in court, in regards to my color, unless it come up this way: now a nigger could go in court and testify against his own color in favor of the white man, and his word was took. But when it come to speakin out in his own defense, nigger weren’t heard in court. White folks is white folks, niggers is niggers, and a nigger’s word never has went worth a penny unless some

fool and frolic out in a day’s time down there. You shoulda told me about it before now and maybe it’d been better on you. But like I’m runnin it with you, you just gettin in debt.” He dropped his head again. I just runned my hand in my pocket—Mr. Van Kirkland was furnishin me money and it weren’t takin all he was givin me just for groceries; when I dropped back home I commenced a raisin my meat and lard again, and vegetables. Didn’t have to live out of a store like I do now—I runned my hand in

and leave her, she’d turn her head around and look at you, watch you clean till you got out of sight, and stand right there till you come back, too. And she had her own gait to the plow. She’d walk right on off but she weren’t fast. She showed a disposition to bein old. Mr. Shug Armstrong would say, “You can’t tell me nothin bout old Dan, I bought her out of the drove myself. Old Dan’s thirty-five years old. I know, I bought her out of the drove thirty-five years ago.” She was a black mule and

dearly after; I wanted to get me a couple, just a couple, and I was goin to run right back around there close enough to him to bust his brains out. I hunted for rocks around there several minutes, couldn’t find the rock I wanted to save my life. Looked like God kept the rocks out of my hands, as rocky as that place was, I especially hunted rocks and couldn’t find one. So I didn’t know what to do. I just made up my mind right quick to go back around there and die with him, with my natural hands.

so-and-so-and-so—” Heap of times the scaper that I offered to sell him my cotton had a knack of puttin his bid on the paper that the cotton was wrapped up in. I didn’t want him to do that. The next man would see how much this one bid me and he wouldn’t go above it. And so, I’d have my cotton weighed and I’d go up and down the street with my sample. Meet a white man, farmin man like myself, on the street; he’d see what I been offered for my sample—the buyer’s marks would be on the wrapper—or I’d

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