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Reviewed by Sheena Monnin for Readers' Favorite
The Self-Liberation of Parson Sykes: Enslavement in Southampton County, Virginia by David J. Mason tells the story of the author’s great-grandfather, Parson Sykes, and his journey to freedom during the Civil War. The author does a remarkable job of setting up the details of the era for the reader from the very beginning, giving a comprehensive overview of the political and military movements of the time and how these impacted those forced into slavery in the United States. The story starts with Parson thinking about liberation and making plans over many months to remove himself from the wrongful, cruel, and unjust slavery forced upon him on the farm of Jacob Williams. He escapes in 1864 and joins the military, serving honorably and helping to end the horrendous enslavement of people in this country.
The Self-Liberation of Parson Sykes by David J. Mason was riveting from start to finish. The methodical way the author presents the bigger picture of the political and cultural issues of the nation while providing fascinating details about Parson Sykes’ life and mindset allowed the reader to feel connected to the story and to understand the incredibly huge risks Parson took in his liberation. The author writes with authenticity, attention to detail, and care on subjects that are sensitive to many people, presenting the facts as they are. Readers will feel connected to Parson Sykes as they read this book and will be fascinated to learn the historical details the author provides as he takes them on the admirable journey toward freedom that his great-grandfather bravely undertook.