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The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part 1: The Witnesses

The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part 1: The Witnesses

A Novel

  • reading group guide
The truth has been buried more than one hundred years . . .

Leading a small army of slaves, Nat Turner was a man born with a mission: to set the captives free. When words failed, he ignited an uprising that left over fifty whites dead. In the predawn hours of August 22, 1831, Nat Turner stormed into history with a Bible in one hand, brandishing a sword in the other. His rebellion shined a national spotlight on slavery and the state of Virginia and divided a nation’s trust. Turner himself became a lightning rod for abolitionists like Harriet Beecher Stowe and a terror and secret shame for slave owners.

In The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part 1: The Witnesses, Nat Turner’s story is revealed through the eyes and minds of slaves and masters, friends and foes. In their words is the truth of the mystery and conspiracy of Nat Turner’s life, death, and confession.

The Resurrection of Nat Turner spans more than sixty years, sweeping from the majestic highlands of Ethiopia to the towns of Cross Keys and Jerusalem in Southampton County. Using extensive research, Sharon Ewell Foster breaks hallowed ground in this epic novel, revealing long-buried secrets about this tragic hero.
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  • Howard Books | 
  • 480 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416578031 | 
  • August 2011
List Price $15.99
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Reading Group Guide

The suggested questions for The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part 1: The Witnesses are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.



1. Relationships between captors and captives, slaves and masters were complex—despite slave codes and laws. Discuss examples from the book (for example, Easter and Lavinia, Nat Turner and his father, Nathaniel Francis and Charlotte). Share examples from your own family history.

2. Mosaic Law lays down laws that ameliorate slavery, for example: Exodus 21:20, Exodus 21:26, Deuteronomy 5:14–15, Deuteronomy 21:10–14, Deuteronomy 23:15–16, Deuteronomy 24:14–15, 1 Timothy 1:9–11. Was slavery in America based on biblical law? Why or why not?

3. Many slaves suffered but did not fight back. What in Nat Turner’s background might have predisposed him to take up arms?

4. In The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part 1: The Witnesses, names are important, particularly slave names. What is the significance of a slave having one or two names? The author refers to Easter as “auntie Easter” rather than “Auntie Easter” and to Charlotte as “Wicked Charlotte” rather than “wicked Charlotte.” What do you think the author is attempting to convey through use of this l see more

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About the Author

Sharon Ewell Foster
Photograph © Amy Stern

Sharon Ewell Foster

Sharon Ewell Foster is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author, speaker, and teacher. She is the author of Passing by Samaria, the first successful work of Christian fiction by an African American author, and The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part One: The Witnesses, which won the 2012 Shaara Prize for Civil War Fiction. Sharon is a Christy Award-winning author whose books have earned her a loyal following that crosses market, gender, and racial boundaries. She regularly receives starred book reviews and is also winner of the Gold Pen Award, Best of Borders, and several reviewers’ choice awards. 

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