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Paperback A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison Book

ISBN: 0815624913

ISBN13: 9780815624912

A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

As one of the earliest literary forms of colonial America, the Indian captivity narrative is important not only in the
history of American letters but also as an indispensable source concerning the colonization of the "frontier," the peoples who dwelt on either side of it, and the often limited understanding they had of one another. A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison is one of the best of this literary genre.

In 1758,...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

very good firsthand account of captivity

I really was amazed that this book still existed, the description of Mary's life as a adult was heartbreaking after all she endured as a child, anyone interested in American history should read this

Fantastic Indian Captivity Narrative

This book is an incredible account of the life and times of Mary Jemison, a white woman taken captive during the French and Indian War and adopted into the Seneca tribe of the Iroquois in western New York. This tale covers her more than 70 years living among them through many of the most vital years of the long history of the Iroquois Confederacy. In November 1823, when she was in her 80s, Mary Jemison, at the urging of many of the friendly local inhabitants, gave her amazing life story to James Seaver to publish for posterity. Though his truthfulness in some details of that account has often been called into question, this book is one of the most important and complete of any of the Indian captivity narratives to come out of the period between the French and Indian War and the War of 1812, which most historians mark as the end of the period of influence of the Eastern Woodland tribes. This account gives unequalled insight into the Seneca Indians and their ways including religion, food, hunting, warfare, culture, etc. Mary had many opportunities to leave the Indians and return to white civilization but chose not to do so and thus was witness to some of the most amazing events in the history of her adopted people. Her tale is important to not only historians and ethnologists, but to the general public itself as it is a truly amazing story of triumph and tragedy for a proud people struggling to survive in the face of overwhelming odds as a young United States continued to expand, forever extinguishing their way of life.

A wonderful selection for a school book report.

It can be such a battle to get a junior high or high school student to write a book report. I've found that if you help the student to choose a book that is interesting enough to keep him drawn in until the end of the story, the job is much easier. "Captured by Indians: The Life of Mary Jemison" is a fabulous example of the many, many enjoyable--and suitable--books that are available to the young reader. History is full of fascinating stories, and our own country's history provides so many stories worth reading. That Mary Jemison was a real person and not just a character created by a writer makes this book an even easier "sell" to the student. It should be emphasized that Karen Zeinert's edition of the transcript of Mary Jemison's life story, which she told in 1823, has many excellent features. For example, Zeinert includes an extremely helpful timeline incorporating the major events of Mary's life with major historical events (dates treaties were signed, etc.), which enhances the reader's understanding of the time period. Also included are hand-drawn maps, a few photographs, several (period) hand-drawn portraits of people who are part of the story. A very helpful glossary of terms appears at the end of the book--another item most useful to today's young readers. Note to teachers and/or parents: Zeinert has carefully edited out the sensationalism that was very much a part of the original work, and she points out in the "Background" section that author James Seaver was hired in 1823 to interview Mary Jemison in order to produce a "captive story"--a popular genre of the period--and that captive stories were often used as propaganda against the Native Americans, who were normally portrayed as savages in such works. Finally, a personal note: I found it utterly fascinating that in 1823 Mary Jemison made a most prophetic statement: "He (her son John) fell victim to the use of liquor, a poison that will soon exterminate the Indian tribes in this part of the country." Although she couldn't read or write, Mary Jemison was an intelligent, strong, and very brave woman. Her story is one that is worth reading. She shouldn't be an obscure figure in American history. She should be more widely known. Recommend this book to the young people around you!

Fascinating History

The narrative is fascinating reading, both in terms of the history revealed in the words of Mary Jemison and in terms of James Seaver who gives us his own version of her story. The effect is a layering of historical periods. With the help of the editing, you can peer through and see not only the period of Mary Jemison's captivity, but also the prejudices of the following time. An interesting example of the simultaneous respect and loathing with which the early settlers viewed the native inhabitants. I first read the narrative in high school, and would recommend it for young and old readers alike.

Firsthand account of Captive who became tribal Matriarch

They say if you visit New York State you will find her descendants; many native-americans have her last name. Taken captive; her parents killed - Mary becomes part of a native-american family. She married a Delaware (Lenape) warrior, with whom she was very content and has many children. This is a dramatic, true story, told in her own words. She is in her 80's, and reminisces about her unusual life.
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