The Underground Railroad ~~ Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
From prize-winning, bestselling author Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood -- where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned -- Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor -- engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey -- hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.
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About the Book
  • Published:
    Sep-2016 (Hardcover)
    Jan-2016 (Paperback)
  • Formats:
    Print / eBook / Audio
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I don't think I would have read this book if it wasn't the Pulitzer Prize Winner for fiction. Even with that, I found it very difficult to get through this story. It's unrelenting sadness, depravity and hopelessness made it a tough slog. But, having said that, I think it is an important book to read nonetheless. Whithead has depicted the institution of slavery, and the courage and bravery of people who lived under the master's whip very, very realistically. This book is about young Clara and her life as a slave under a sadistic master, and her run for freedom from the tyranny she has known all her life. Clara meets all kinds of people in her bid for freedom; some truly wonderful, and others sadistic and monstrous. But Clara keeps her bid for freedom front and foremost in her mind, and never, ever gives up in that quest. This is a very well-written book, about a very difficult and disturbing time in the history of a nation. There is no sugar-coating the appalling effects of slavery on humankind, and Mr. Whitehead does not attempt to do that. It's all here raw, real and authentic. Difficult to read? Yes. Worth the effort? By all means, yes.
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