One thought on “01 Underground Railroad”

  1. I was looking forward to reading this book because I was interested to read the author’s perspective of slavery and the white abolitionists who attempted to help slaves escape slavery via the underground railroad. Of course I was taught about slavery & and underground railroad, but my knowledge is fairly limited.

    I didn’t know much about this book before I read it, nor had I read any of the author’s other writings. I was not prepared for the author’s writing style or the method he used to describe the underground railroad. In the book the author depicts the railroad as a literal railroad that runs underground. Escapees usually enter a railroad station through a hidden trapdoor. Station Masters live nearby and facilitate the runaway slaves transport through the system. I thought it was interesting that some of the stations were decorated like subway stations while others were rugged like mine shafts. Trains whiz through the terminals at unscheduled times with train conductors who are Santa like characters, eternally cheerful and carefree.

    Many of the white abolitionists who Cora meets along the way, who help her move forward through the underground railroad appear as sometimes reluctant caricatures who have their own motives and agendas for helping out the escapees. I don’t think I exaggerate when I say that most of the white helpers in the story still believe they are in some way superior to the black escapees they help.

    At first I was a little confused by the way the author played around with the timeline of events, and collapsed and combined the historical record into a metaphorical, mystical, and mythological story line. He takes aspects of American history and slavery to the extreme by combining different forms of racial hysteria throughout the story and by comparing the reality of slavery with a museum’s sanitized version of slave life that has often been presented for the nice white people who don’t want to face what slavery really is.

    Overall, the book left quite an impression on me and I think I’ll probably read it again. I would recommend it to other people who I think would appreciate the author’s style of writing and the storyline.

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