By Anthony J. Sestric
Reedy Press, $19.95, 216 pages

It takes many small steps to achieve freedom. 57 Years: A History of the Freedom Suits in the Missouri Courts examines suits slaves filed against their owners in order to gain freedom. Although most of the book summarizes the cases and covers legal aspects, author and attorney Anthony J. Sestric also takes a closer look at specific suits. He analyzes the role of the lawyers, the clients they represented and the judges who refereed the cases. The book offers an interesting glimpse into the justice system of Missouri. Sestric writes about the fascinating tactics slave owners used to avoid court. He discusses the laws that had to be enacted in order for the trials to take place. And he includes analysis of the Dred Scott decision from a number of different perspectives. This is a great book for anyone interested in learning what slaves had to experience in order to legally gain their freedom.

Reviewed by Jamais Jochim