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The Underground Railroad
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The Underground Railroad

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Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish 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 and, 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. 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.

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.

Title:The Underground Railroad
Edition Language:English
ISBN:0385542364
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:306 pages
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    The Underground Railroad Reviews

  • Emily May
    Jul 26, 2016

    This is my first read by Colson Whitehead and it makes me think his style may not be to my tastes.It's personal preference, I'm sure. There are some beautiful sentences, some genius structural choices...

  • Roxane
    Aug 15, 2016

    Excellent writing, strong concept. I am personally burnt out on slavery narratives so I cannot say this was a pleasure to read. So much unrelenting horror. Whitehead does an excellent job of portrayin...

  • Navidad Thelamour
    Jun 10, 2016

    “All men are created equal, unless we decide you are not a man.” I was really looking forward to this read! I had an interesting relationship with The Intuitionist, having read it in college and n...

  • Trish
    Jul 12, 2016

    For nearly twenty years the work of Colson Whitehead has been published to wide acclaim, his fiction and nonfiction both receiving many accolades. For this reason I was eager to have the chance to rea...

  • Elyse
    Apr 22, 2017

    I came to this book with some resistance, regardless of it being the Pulitzer Prize winner for 2017.I've owned the physical book since last year. It kept being easier to read something else. I felt it...

  • Angela M
    Mar 30, 2016

    3.5 stars rounded up.This is a difficult book to read with the horrific treatment and gruesome punishments of African American slaves so much a part of the narrative, but it is essential that we read ...

  • Michael Finocchiaro
    Apr 11, 2017

    The Underground Railroad is an intense ride. I had not taken "railroad" to be a literal thing before reading the book. Like Cora, the protagonist, I thought it was just an informal way of smuggling es...

  • Justin
    Feb 21, 2017

    I'm a guy who enjoys "best of" lists. One of my favorite things about December, besides my birthday, Christmas, football, colder weather, and hot chocolate, is sitting down to peruse lists of the best...

  • Ron Charles
    Feb 04, 2016

    Nobody could wait for Colson Whitehead’s new book — including Oprah, so here it is, a month early. In a surprise announcement Tuesday morning, Winfrey chose “The Underground Railroad” as the n...

  • Lori
    Aug 07, 2016

    I struggled through this... several times thinking of giving up. As a story revolving around such a 'heavy' subject the focus needed to be on a character less one dimensional and just a little bit lik...