The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad

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 t...

Details The Underground Railroad

TitleThe Underground Railroad
Release DateAug 2nd, 2016
PublisherDoubleday Books
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Audiobook

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 Thélamour
    3.5 stars “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 affa...
  • 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...
  • Matthew
    Every year, I have either never heard of the films nominated for the Best Picture Academy award or when I see them, I don’t think the movie is all that great; long drawn out scenes with landscapes, close ups of glowering faces, monotonous dialogue, etc. I know that every movie doesn’t have to be action packed, but forced artsy-ness or movies nominated for content but not quality are frustrating.The Underground Railroad won the Pulitzer Prize ...
  • Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters
    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 was my duty to read this book.But wait.....Haven't I done my duty? I've read three James Baldwin books 'this' year....I've seen the movie "12 Years a Slave", and "Birth of a Nation".I've read "Beloved" by Toni Morrison, "The Kitchen House", by Kathl...
  • Will Byrnes
    What a world, Cora thought, that makes a living prison into your only haven. Was she out of bondage or in its web: 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, from the empty meadow, you see its true limits. Being free had nothing to do with chains or how much space you had. On the plantation she was not free, but she moved unrestric...
  • 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...
  • Michael Finocchiaro
    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 escaped slaves up north. Now, I am curious to visit some of the stations should they still exist.The book itself is one of courage, brutality, and hope. It is a condemnation of the despicable crime against humanity that was slavery (and I have ancestor...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • Jim Fonseca
    A good read and Pulitzer Prize winner, with so many reviews already, I’ll make this brief.The main character is a young woman slave who hates her missing mother for having escaped when she was a child. A young man plans to escape from the Georgia plantation and invites her to go with him, partly because he thinks she’s “good luck” because of her mother’s escape. The main story becomes one of a cat and mouse game with a brutal slave hunt...
  • 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...
  • Pouting Always
    Cora is a slave on a plantation in Georgia where conditions are especially rough because of the cotton industry. When she was younger her mother left her alone on the plantation and escaped, leaving Cora to fend for herself. Cora eventually becomes an outcast but when a new slave arrives on the plantation, Caesar, he approaches her and asks her to run away from him. The two set out to evade the bounty hunters and restart their lives this time as ...
  • Violet wells
    It must be hard for a writer to create an uneducated character. It’s not really something you can research. Toni Morrison has set the benchmark, an almost impossibly high benchmark. Of late Marilyn Robinson did a good job with Lila. Whitehead evades this challenge principally by giving his central character Cora little if any inner life. Therefore this is a novel principally of surface realities. It’s a narrative of the eye more than the hear...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Paromjit
    The foundations of the United States are built on slavery and this dark history informs its evolution right up to present day where the current political environment has legitimised racism. This book is set in the early 19th century and Whitehead has made the actual allegorical historical railroad into a physical one that Cora travels on, giving her and us insights into the nature of slavery and racism, seeing the differences in how it is impleme...
  • jessica
    i am so thankful that historical fiction is such an accessible genre. i dont think i would have learned half the stuff i know today without it. i love that it allows readers to experience history in a completely new light, while still being exposed to its significance.that being said, sometimes the execution of a story just doesnt do a particular moment in history justice. which is what i found to be the case with this book.this honestly had so m...
  • Lark Benobi
    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...
  • Julie Christine
    "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...
  • 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...
  • Cheri
    3.5 Stars”The music stopped. The circle broke. Sometimes a slave will be lost in a brief eddy of liberation. In the sway of a sudden reverie among the furrows or while untangling the mysteries of an early morning dream. In the middle of a song on a warm Sunday night. Then it comes, always—the overseer’s cry, the call to work, the shadow of the master, the reminder that she is only a human being for a tiny moment across the eternity of her s...
  • Matthew Quann
    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 railroad underground. It's exactly the sort of spin on the...
  • Hannah
    It took me forever to read this book - it is brilliant, don't get me wrong, but so exhausting in the terror it depicts. Colson Whitehead uses a very matter-of-fact way to talk about the horrors of slavery (and there were plenty) that makes what happens somehow all the more horrific. It is mesmerising in its cruelty and devastating it its matter-of-factness about the atrocities of slavery.In this book, the Underground Railroad is just that: a syst...
  • 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...
  • Snotchocheez
    4 stars*******UPDATE 4/10/17: Congrats to 2017 Pulitzer Prize Fiction Winner (and 2017 Tournament of Books Winner) Colson Whitehead!!!! Truly well-deserved honors!-----------------------------You 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 compromisin...
  • 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...