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Book Rating (95)

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The Underground Railroad: A Novel

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By:

Narrated By: Bahni Turpin

Publisher: Random House (Audio)

Date: August 2016

Duration: 10 hours 44 minutes


The National Book Award Winner and #1 New York Times bestseller from 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.


  • Kimberly Eisner

    Slow beginning, but overall a very good book. I enjoyed the narration and was captivated once it picked up.

  • Rosalyn Driscoll

    Compelling characters, story, historical context --much of which I did not know.

  • adam croce

    Great story, especially during these times. Really puts you back in slave time times, puts you in the shoes of a slave girl escaping the horrors of the south. Sometimes a bit confusing when the story takes an unexpected tangent. The reading is excellent, however.

  • Jennifer Ferguson

    Hard to follow in the beginning. Stuck it out, but it only got slightly better.

  • Gayle Proctor

    Hated it for many reasons.

  • Ting Waymouth

    It took me a little while to get into, but I really enjoyed this book overall.

  • Jamaine Wade

    Awesome and sobering at the same time. A look behind the mask of what we call America.