I purchased this book because I thought it was one I "ought" to read, rather than because I was dying to read it. I wound up thinking it was the best book I had read in perhaps ten years. If you missed this one in school (and you probably did if you're under 50), don't deny yourself the pleasure any longer.
Most people have heard how important this book was in galvanizing northern opinion against slavery and southern opinion against the north. Knowing only that, one might think that the book is no longer relevant. Nothing could be further from the truth. Stowe's insights into the way slavery corrupted the character of both master and slave -- and did it in countless souls for hundreds of years -- gives the modern listener an interesting perspective on race relations today. Somehow, the racial struggles of the 1950s and 1960s took on new meaning for me.
But the real surprise for me is how intrinsically Christian this book is. The religious imagery is absolutely beautiful, and the book squarely poses the issue of how faithfully the Christian churches of the 19th century interpreted their Master's teaching where slavery was concerned. Even more urgently for most of us, the book poses sharply a question that most of us must ask ourselves from time to time: If I know what I'm doing is wrong, why can't I stop?
This book is much too Christian to be read in public schools any more, and that's a shame. But read it yourself, and then read it with your kids. I know I will.
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