George Washington Carver: From Slave to Scientist was written by Janet and Geoff Benge and published by YWAM Publishing (2001). This man’s life is truly extraordinary. Many books have been written about George Washington Carver. I recommend this one because of the smooth flow of the story connecting the many remarkable events of Carver’s life. The reader gets a strong sense of his personality, faith, and the motivations that carried him through difficult times. Part of the Heroes of History series, it is a great candidate for a book report, but it is also a fascinating read in its own right.

George’s mother was bought as a slave by the Carvers, a childless couple on a farm in Missouri. Bushwhackers—lawless men who stole slaves and resold them—carried off baby George and his mother one night. Although a search was made, only George was found. He and his brother Jim grew up on the farm, learning hard work and frugality. The end of the Civil War brought freedom to all slaves. Jim was happy to stay and work on the farm, but George was restless. Mrs. Carver taught him to read, but there were few books for him to explore. George took long walks and became fascinated with plants. After seeing paintings at a neighboring farm, George created inks and made pictures of his own.

When he was eleven, George packed up his meager belongings, said goodbye to Jim and the Carvers, and walked eight miles to the nearest town to go to school. Taken in by a kind couple, he helped them wash clothes for townspeople in exchange for room and board. Soon he had learned everything the teacher knew, and he moved on to another school, working his way.

George’s youth was a series of these moves across the country, as he sought knowledge. He met wonderful mentors and friends, as well as atrociously bigoted people who threatened his life. His genius, a growing resume of skills, perseverance, and work ethic are impressive. The obstacles put in his path by evil people were huge and some passages are heart wrenching to read.

Eventually, George Washington Carver earned both Bachelor of Science and Master’s degrees. Later in life he was awarded an honorary doctoral degree. He served for four decades as head of the agricultural department at Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Macon County, Alabama. This all African-American school was set up by Booker T. Washington to equip former slaves to earn a living. George’s work there encompassed laboratory research, teaching classes, nature hikes, leading a Bible study, beautifying the grounds, educating local farmers on how to increase crop yields and creating astonishing new uses for peanuts and soy beans.

Over the course of his life, George Washington Carver became friends with James Wilson (United States Secretary of Agriculture, 1897-1913), President Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and many other influential people of the day. Although he could have used his tremendous skills to enrich himself, George Washington Carver dedicated his life to lifting up those in greatest need.

I recommend this book for high school because the subject matter is complex, and there are violent scenes. Carver’s life will intrigue people contemplating college and career directions. It can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Christianbook.com in paperback and audiobook.

Donna Fujimoto’s children love to read. She is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. Her collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge  is available as an e-book at Amazon.  The Shining Orb of Volney, a science-fiction novel, is her latest title. 

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