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Bound for Canaan

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About the Author

Fergus M. Bordewich is the author of several books, including Bound for Canaan, Killing the White Man's Indian, and My Mother's Ghost, a memoir. The son of a national civil rights leader for Native Americans, he was introduced early in life to racial politics. As a journalist, he has written widely on political and cultural subjects in Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian, American Heritage, Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, Reader's Digest, and many other publications. He was born in New York City, and now lives in New York's Hudson River Valley with his wife and daughter.


Countless black and white Americans operated the Underground Railroad, defying slaveholders and the federal government to escort fugitive slaves over land or by sea to freedom-and risking severe punishment if captured. Bordewich (Killing the White Man's Indian) covers six decades of the Underground Railroad, from its inchoate beginnings to its height, when it boasted a complex network of individuals determined to eliminate slavery from a nation proclaiming to be the land of liberty. Similar in scope to David W. Blight's Passages to Freedom, this work takes into account the many parties involved at all levels of the Underground Railroad. Bordewich draws mainly from primary sources to craft a rich, spellbinding, and readable narrative for lay readers, praising Underground Railroad men and women for setting in motion "far-reaching political and moral consequences that changed [race] relationsin ways more radical than anysince the American Revolution" and long before the modern Civil Rights Movement. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/04.]-Charles L. Lumpkins, Pennsylvania State Univ., State College Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Though the Underground Railroad is one of the touchstones of American collective memory, there's been no comprehensive, accessible history of the secret movement that delivered more than 100,000 runaway slaves to freedom in the Northern states and Canada. Journalist Bordewich (Killing the White Man's Indian) fills this gap with a clear, utterly compelling survey of the Railroad from its earliest days in Revolution-era America through the Civil War and the extension of the vote to African Americans in 1870. Using an impressive array of archival and contemporary sources (letters, autobiographies, tax records and slave narratives, as well as new scholarship), Bordewich reveals the Railroad to be much more complicated-and much more remarkable-than is usually understood. As a progressive movement that integrated people across races and was underwritten by secular political theories but carried out by fervently religious citizens in the midst of a national spiritual awakening, the clandestine network was among the most fascinatingly diverse groups ever to unite behind a common American cause. What makes Bordewich's work transcend the confines of detached social history is his emphasis on the real lives and stories of the Railroad's participants. Religious extremists, left-wing radicals and virulent racists all emerge as fully realized characters, flawed but determined people doing what they believed was right, and every chapter has at least one moment-a detail, a vignette, a description-that will transport readers to the world Bordewich describes. The men and women of this remarkable account will remain with readers for a long time to come. Illus. not seen by PW. Agent, Elyse Cheney. (Apr.) Forecast: A marketing push that includes a six-city tour and praise from Cornel West, James McPherson and David Levering Lewis should help put the spotlight on this deserving book. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"This fast-paced narrative is the best account we have of the network known as the Underground Railroad."----James McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era "Rich in detail, [and] its ability to evoke the emotions, sights and sounds of these clandestine ventures."--Black Issues Book Review "A masterful story--a deeply American story."----Cornel West, University Professor of Religion, Princeton University, and author of Race Matters and Democracy Matters "Bound for Canaan recaptures this grand history with the insightfulness, comprehensiveness, and narrative vigor the subject demands."--David Levering Lewis, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the two-volume life of W. E. B. Du Bois "A profoundly American tale."--USA Today "The . . stories. . . inspire, horrify and humble."--Washington Post "Dramatizes a shining moment in American history-- a book filled with unsung heroes and revolutionary acts of trust."--O magazine "Bound For Canaan reveals in stunning detail and beautiful prose the inner workings of this clandestine system."----Kate Clifford, Ph.D. author of Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero "Excellent...The first truly comprehensive treatment of the underground railroad."--Civil War History Magazine "An important addition to our history, brilliantly told."--Atlanta Journal-Constitution "A vivid reconstruction of abolitionism's most daring act of rebellion..."--Kirkus Reviews (starred) "Rich in detail and solid storytelling: sure to awaken interest in the peculiar anti-institution."--Kirkus Reviews (starred) "An excellent book . . .as close to a definitive history as we're likely to see."--Wall Street Journal "Engrossing account of the Underground Railroad."--The New Yorker "Bordewich brings to his account [of the Underghround Railroad] the moral seriousness it deserves."--New York Review of Books "Well written, moving, and stimulating...Could provide the occasion for a constructive national conversation."--New York Times "Utterly compelling."--Publishers Weekly (starred review) "A rich, spellbinding, and readable narrative."--School Library Journal (starred review)

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