The Self-Liberation of Parson Sykes: Enslavement in Southampton County, Virginia
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Reviewed by Astrid Iustulin for Readers' Favorite: 5 StarsThe Self-Liberation of Parson Sykes by David J. Mason is a novel based on the true story of his great-grandfather. Parson Sykes lived in the 19th century in Southampton Country, Virginia, and was born into slavery. Yet, he had a clear vision of his future and what he wanted to achieve in his life - freedom. In 1864, during the Civil War, Parson decided to act and run away with his brothers. The Sykes enrolled in the Union Army, where they discovered that there, too, they had to face prejudice and discrimination against Black soldiers. Mason tells the story of his ancestor in detail and, in addition to giving information about him, offers the reader a detailed historical reconstruction of his time.
The Self-Liberation of Parson Sykes is a splendid novel that, in many ways, comes very close to a historical study. David J. Mason offers the reader a detailed story and a lot of food for thought. Above all, he highlighted his great-grandfather's thirst for freedom very well, making him an outstanding, charismatic character. Moreover, Mason depicts a precise picture of people and events. He represents very well the mentality of Parson's owner, Jacob Williams, and sheds light on the contribution of the Black soldiers to the war. I am convinced that this book will appeal to all readers who love history and are particularly interested in the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. This story will allow them to retrace some of those events following the protagonist's journey to freedom.