The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad

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 ...

Details The Underground Railroad

TitleThe Underground Railroad
Release DateAug 2nd, 2016
PublisherDoubleday Books
Number of pages306 pages
GenreHistorical Fiction, Fiction, Historical, Cultural, African American

Reviews The Underground Railroad

  • Emily May
    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, and many great ideas. Indeed, the re-imagining of history where the Underground Railroad is an actual railroad is a great idea in itself. I just found it lacking in anything resembling emotion. It's a cold, distant, impersonal novel and it didn't p...
  • Roxane
    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 portraying slavery and America as a slave nation. The idea of the underground railroad, as an actual railroad, is so smart and interesting. I wish he had actually done more with the railroad itself. There were some sentences where I thought, "Now you are just...
  • Navidad Thelamour
    “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 not quite grasped it then came back to it later and enjoyed it more. I love everything that Colson Whitehead is about (and I hope to read Zone One soon), but this particular foray into his work turned out to be a little less than a love affair for me....
  • Trish
    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 read his new novel that focused on the origination of the race debate in America—slavery. This new novel is due out September 13, 2016. Thanks to Netgalley and Doubleday for the opportunity to read an e-galley.The story centers around Cora, a motherle...
  • Angela M
    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 this and other books like it . We need these powerful, compelling and gut wrenching reminders of what life was like on a plantation in Georgia and other places in the South and what it might have been like to be a runaway. This story is told mainly f...
  • Ron Charles
    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 next title for Oprah’s Book Club. Originally set to release on Sept. 13, the novel is available now, the result of an extraordinary plan to start shipping 200,000 copies out to booksellers in secret.Far and away the most anticipated literary novel o...
  • Diane S ☔
    Cora, was a young slave on a Georgia plantation when her mother escaped, leaving Cora to the mercy of the other women in the quarters. Despite hiring a notorious slave tracker, she was never found.To say this plantation did not treat its slaves well is an understatement, some of the punishments devised caused me to, skim over them they are that horrific. When a new intelligent black man, a young man whose master had falsely promised to free him o...
  • Lori
    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 likable. Cora was not a character that made me feel anything... there was no depth to her. Also, I disliked the whole idea of the Underground Railroad being an actual physical railroad which made no sense to me. Almost made it somewhat cartoonish. It wo...
  • Hannah Greendale
    Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend. Cora is a slave at a Georgia plantation in the antebellum South. When a fellow slave tells her about the Underground Railroad, she finds the courage to run for her freedom. Thus begins her odyssey as a runaway slave, where her adventures introduce her to unprecedented horrors and lead her to disheartening realizations. The Underground Railroad rekindles the ...
  • Justin
    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 stuff of the year. Books, movies, albums, video games, etc. I love it. I have trusted sources that I rely on to provide my with the best of the best, and when I start to see the same stuff appear on very list, I drop everything and consume it. Like ...
  • Luffy
    The plight of slaves who are so badly treated that they are willing to risk horrendous punishment in an attempt to flee from their hellish circumstances, used to be all too common. In this historical fiction, our resident rebel is Cora, a young woman who is ready to try and escape.This book and its subject matter put things into perspective. Life used to be hellish or thereabouts to anyone not a man, and not white. Given that teenagers nowadays h...
  • poingu
    I finished feeling utterly exhilarated. This novel is a triumphant act of imagination. I could write that there are many things I didn't like about it, too. I could list them, even. There were too many characters too superficially drawn; sometimes I felt there was too much narrative summary; the bad guys trended toward evil caricatures rather than multidimensional people; there was an odd distancing effect between the reader and any one character...
  • Melanie
    The Underground Railroad was the group book for #DiverseAthon, which was held from the 22nd to the 29th of January 2017!This important and very needed readathon is being hosted by Christina Marie from Christina Marie, Joce from squibblesreads, Simon from SavidgeReads, Monica from shemightbemonica, Mara from BookMarauder, and Naz from Read Diverse Books! “And America, too, is a delusion, the grandest one of all. The white race believes--believe...
  • Matthew Quann
    Update 17/11/2016: Winner of the 2016 National Book Award.I rarely get to read books when they are in their acute hype phase, but I decided to put an Audible credit towards critical darling Colson Whitehead's latest novel. A couple drives back and forth across the province and I'm all done with The Underground Railroad and ready to render my verdict.ALL ABOARD!The premise is pretty enticing: a reimagining of the Underground Railroad as an actual ...
  • Taryn
    3.5 Stars. Cora is a slave on the Randall plantation, the place where she was born and where her grandmother and mother were also slaves. Caesar, a new arrival on the property, offers her an opportunity to accompany him on the Underground Railroad, but she is hesitant. When leadership on the plantation changes hands and Cora's circumstances get even worse, she decides to take a chance and flee with Caesar. Not one to let his property get away, Te...
  • Snotchocheez
    4 starsYou gotta admire Colson Whitehead's creative tightrope act here. He puts a hyperreal spin on the scourge of slavery (and all the concomitant indignities stemming therefrom) wrought upon blacks by whites. That he achieves this hyperreality without compromising historicity is remarkable. The Underground Railroad, as you certainly can imagine from a novel about the slavery era, is not easy to stomach. Whitehead pulls no punches here: the slav...
  • Seemita
    [Originally appeared here (with edits):]Shaping a work around the theme of slavery and its many tentacles is a bit like shaping a lump of rigid clay into something cohesive and stable. On one hand, excessive pressure on misery squashes the vein of the narrative and on another, a voice too rebellious, hollows out the inherent pain of its victims. Drawing that line which does justice to this divide is certai...
  • Julie
    "I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves," stated First Lady Michelle Obama at this year's Democratic National Convention. Her words seemed to come as a surprise to many, those who had either forgotten or had never known that black hands enslaved by white masters built the iconic edifice of our democracy.As we come to the end of an extraordinary eight years of the nation's first President of color while witnessing the continue...
  • Sam
    The Underground Railroad is important, unflinching, provocative, fairly inventive, and incredibly relevant and timely as Colson Whitehead shows how plenty of slavery's shackles still grip insidiously the collective consciousness and actions of the American nation. The terrifying dehumanization and brutality of being sold into and living in bondage for blacks is presented and contrasted against the pursuit of freedom, often equally terrifying, deh...
  • Diane
    This novel is both brutal and beautiful. It is the story of slaves in Georgia trying to escape to freedom using the Underground Railroad, and along the way we see innumerable scenes of how horrible life could be for a black person in the American South.What gives this book a twist from other historical fiction of the same period is that Colson Whitehead made his Underground Railroad a real railroad, with trains and tracks and tunnels and stations...
  • Jessica Woodbury
    About halfway through The Underground Railroad, I started to see the next turn around the bend. I knew what was going to happen next. This isn't because of lazy writing, it's because the story rises beyond itself and becomes almost an allegory or fable. What happens to Cora simply becomes inevitable. The beauty of this book is that while it has that deep communal feel of folk tale, it also lives vibrantly through its characters. This is not arche...
  • Laurie Anderson
    This is my favorite book of 2016 - amazing, heartbreaking, and imaginative. Powerful. Are you getting the sense that I liked it? I LOVE this book. I can't wait to re-read it, highlighter in hand. It is a master class in the art of storytelling and a key to deeply understanding the racial injustice and unforgivable inequalities in America today.The opening section set on the Georgia plantation made me weep. That part of the story alone makes the b...
  • Britany
    Colson Whitehead takes history and spins it into something new by bringing to life the Underground Railroad- literally! Cora, an orphaned slave on a Georgia Plantation decides to take her future into her own hands and escape to the North. Cora's mother- Mabel, escaped when Cora was only 13, leaving her behind to grapple with being alone and abandoned. Mabel is presented as idealistic, as she was never captured and returned to the farm. In fact, t...
  • Simon
    This was the group read for DiverseAThon which I have been delighted to cohost especially while the world seems to be going mad. Shocking, heartbreaking and guy wrenching, with masses to say. Also a page turner without ever being so at the expense of the prose, which is great. A powerful and important read.
  • Jennifer
    "Stolen bodies working stolen land. It was an engine that did not stop, its hungry boiler fed with blood."Colson Whitehead's much-anticipated book The Underground Railroad tells the story of the antebellum South while centering on the escaped slave, Cora. Whitehead's sparse writing style makes the horrors of slavery -- and dangers for all those who tried to escape or aid and abet those who escaped -- all the more striking. These vignettes stand o...
  • Maureen
    WOW wow WOW this book. It may have taken me over a month to finish but it was worth it.The writing is excellent, the story incredible but also difficult. I was definitely in tears at times when remembering and even relearning the awful fate of those who were slaves. It's a truly horrifying past and something that no one should have had to go through. There was so much heartache in this book, and though nothing seemed to go right for Cora, she was...
  • Ellen Gail
    How to describe the status of a runaway? Freedom was a thing that shifted as you looked at it, the way a forest is dense with trees up close but from outside, the empty meadow, you see its true limits. Being free had nothing to do with chains or how much space you had.Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad is an enveloping mix of history and imagination. There's a lot going on and despite the plethora of characters, locations, basically just...
  • Rincey
    This was so great in the most heartbreaking way. See my full review: