Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House

Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House

Hardcover(Revised ed.)

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Part slave narrative, part memoir, and part sentimental fiction, Behind the Scenes depicts Elizabeth Keckley's years as a slave and subsequent four years in Abraham Lincoln's White House during the Civil War. As public drama privately experienced, Keckley's work presents Jefferson Davis and his wife, Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln, and even Stephen Douglas and "Mrs. Senator Douglas" in the foreground, with the war, and slavery as the issue that precipitated it, in the background. Through the eyes of this black woman—an ex-slave, seamstress, and dressmaker—we see a wide range of historical figures and events of the antebellum South, the Washington of the Civil War years, and the final stages of the war.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195052596
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 04/01/1988
Series: Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women Writers Series
Edition description: Revised ed.
Pages: 432
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 6.81(h) x 1.30(d)

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Behind the scenes, or, Thirty years a slave and four years in the White House 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Elizabeth Marin More than 1 year ago
I have to disagree with the previous commentor in regards to this book being ego driven. There is hardly anything glamorous about being a former slave who had to work her way out of poverty. Her story is inspiring. In regards to her relationship with the Lincolns, we have to remember that this is Ms. Keckley's point of view in how she interpreted the situations that occurred during that time. In my opinion, this book is an interesting read from start to finish.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For anyone interested in the issues of slavery or the Lincoln Presidency this is a fascinating look at the life of Elizabeth Keckley who must have been a brave and competent woman of her day.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a really good book and i would recommend it to people. The story is about Elizabeth Keckley's life as a slave, a seamstress, and a friend of Mrs. Lincoln.
Gretchen1 More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be extremely compelling and well-written. When you think that the author was a former slave who rose up from a horrific childhood to becoming a successful businesswoman, it's great.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fascinating reading about the Lincolns from this very interesting woman. I am so glad I picked out this book as my only souvenir from the Lincoln library in Springfield. Now I have the Nook edition.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading the biography of Mary Todd Lincoln, I was a little sad there wasn’t more behind the scenes story that was told. It is clear she was an important person in MTL’s life, friend & confidant. I wonder if at the time she wrote this, it was to get “her story” out there so she could be left in peace to live her life without having to answer so many questions about her former employers. I believe the sale of her garments was about the time (or shorty thereafter, that her son Robert was trying to get Mary institutionalized.
Citizenjoyce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Elizabeth Keckley gives us an interesting look at life in US in the 1800's, the politics of the time and her relationship with the people of the era. There's a little snapshot of Fredrick Douglas and a larger analysis of Mary Todd Lincoln in which the reader is both annoyed with the frippery of the president's wife and dismayed at her treatment. Perhaps the most amazing aspect was Keckley's statement that there was both a bad and good aspect to the practice of slavery. Keckley details her beatings and the selling off of family from each other, also the fact that she was "interfered with" by a white man who fathered her only child. But she professed profound love for her former masters, the ones whom she supported with her sewing and who would not grant freedom to herself and her son until she managed to pay them $1200. She says people don't understand how a former slave can have fond memories of her days in servitude but that people always remember the days of childhood with fond nostalgia, even when those days involve slavery. This book left me wanting to know more and with the utmost respect for the ambition and accomplishments of its author.
ostrom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Keckley worked for the Lincoln family in the White House. She was an expert seamstress. The novel adheres to some melodramatic conventions of the time but is nonetheless fascinating.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
mosesmom More than 1 year ago
This first hand recount of the years of slavery and a look inside the Lincoln White House was most interesting. It tells how a smart and strong woman rose above her beginning. I am passing my book around. I feel this a must read. I learned about Elizabeth Keckley on a PBS program about people of North Carolina.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book gave the reader and inside look at Mrs Lincoln and things that went on in her everyday life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great read, I love history and this is a first count hand given by a person that was there. Granted this is from her point of view, but still just incredible insight to a period of history that is long gone. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is the ending just drops off. Otherwise like I said a wonderful insightful book. It cost her, Mrs. Keckley her friendship with Mrs. Lincoln....But wonderful
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
juliettehendrikx More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most remarkable memoirs I have read. Keckley speaks frankly about having been beaten as a slave, being forced to take a white slave owner as a lover, baring his child, and then traveling to Washington to set up a dress shop. It was there she met the Lincolns. Her time spent with them was the most interesting part of this tale so I wont spoiler the eye openers. The memoir was completely engrossing. A remarkable book.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The book talked about Mrs. Lincoln and not much about the history of the writer. The letters contained in the book got boring and repeated themselves.
EmilyCharlotte More than 1 year ago
All she wrote about were her excellent moral choices, how she loved Lincoln, and very disparaging remarks about the first lady.