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The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
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The Underground Railroad

by Colson Whitehead

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1,357865,664 (4.15)191

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Incredible ( )
  ibkennedy | Feb 26, 2017 |
So very deserving of The National Book Award for 2016.

“And America, too, is a delusion, the grandest one of all. The white race believes-believes with all its heart-that it is their right to take the land. To kill Indians. Make War. Enslave their brothers. This nation shouldn’t exist, if there is any justice in the world, for its foundations are murder, theft, and cruelty. Yet here we are.”

Never forget who we are and how our ancestors suffered. Never, never let anyone tell you to forget the past. ( )
  Jolynne | Feb 23, 2017 |
The protagonist of the Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead is Cora, a young woman whose mother had escaped to freedom when Cora was a child, leaving Cora behind to a brutal slave owner. Cora decides as a young adult to attempt an escape too, knowing capture will likely result in a torturous death.

The Underground Railroad has won many awards and has been included on most Best of 2016 lists. The attention it has gotten is well deserved. It's a brutal story and not always easy to read, but it's a compelling and necessary story. A story that includes the inhumane but also those who risked their own lives for humanity. ( )
  clue | Feb 21, 2017 |
Two and a half stars for the start of the book, which I found slow and not noteworthy. Four stars for the second half when the characters really came to life and the conflict became more complex. ( )
  nltrapp | Feb 20, 2017 |
I don't think privileged white people like myself can ever grasp the realities of slavery in America but books like this help. Obviously the author has taken liberties with the truth (there was not a physical underground railroad as he posits) but I am sure many of the physical abuses of the slaves are based on actual occurrences. At least that is what he told Oprah:
"OW: The methods of "punishment" the slave masters dreamed up and that many people in the book experience—you took a lot of that detail from the slave narratives you read in the Library of Congress.
CW: Yes, and I didn't exaggerate. In the 1930s, the government paid writers to interview 80- and 90-year-old former slaves, and I read those accounts. I came away realizing—not surprisingly—that many slave masters were sadists who spent a lot of time thinking up creative ways of hurting people"

That is very disturbing and this is a disturbing book.

Cora is a third generation slave on the Randall plantation in Georgia. Her mother left Cora behind on the plantation when she ran to freedom. The Randall's had slave hunter, Ridgeway, hunt everywhere for Cora's mother but she was never caught, the only slave who successfully got away from the plantation. Caesar, a slave who was brought up in the household of a white woman who promised to emancipate her slaves when she died and learned to read and write, proposed that the two of them escape together. He had made the acquaintance of a white man who was a conductor for the underground railroad and who promised to get them away if they made it to his farm. After a close call when they ran across some hunters they made it to the man's home and he got them to the underground railroad station. After a long ride on the underground railway Caesar and Cora made it to South Carolina. Blacks were seemingly treated quite well there. Cora and Caesar got jobs and dormitories to stay in. They prospered and thought they would stay although there were opportunities to take the railway further north. Then Ridgeway, the slave hunter who had sought Cora's mother, turned up and they had to flee again. Cora and Caesar got separated and only Cora got on the train to North Carolina. Ridgeway stayed on Cora's trail, becoming her nemesis. Will she ever get free of him? Read the book. ( )
  gypsysmom | Feb 19, 2017 |
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Een van de erfenissen van oud-president Barack Obama is de lof die hij gaf voor de roman van Colson Whitehead – De ondergrondse spoorweg nadat hij het boek in de zomer van 2016 gelezen had. De roman over het slavernijverleden van de Verenigde Staten kon trouwens toch al op veel lovende kritieken en woorden rekenen. En dat is volkomen terecht. De ondergrondse spoorweg is een rijke en briljant geschreven roman over het slavernijverleden van de Verenigde Staten en het racisme met veel verwijzingen naar de hedendaagse Amerikaanse samenleving...lees verder >
 
In a sense, “The Underground Railroad” is Whitehead’s own attempt at getting things right, not by telling us what we already know but by vindicating the powers of fiction to interpret the world. In its exploration of the foundational sins of America, it is a brave and necessary book.
 

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