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Arnold Gragston ferried slaves across the Ohio River, "freeing other people while remaining enslaved himself"; Nelson Gant was tried for attempting to steal his wife from slavery; Althea Lynch, cook and escaped slave, set off "a crisis that involved one military governor, two posses and a U.S. Marshal." That's just a sampling of the "stories of former slaves and freedmen who were agile enough to... sneak through holes in the system and take what seemed like very little and turn it into more than enough" in award-winning journalist DeRamus's salute to the daring and the inventiveness of those who made history, while not making it into history books. DeRamus's touch is light and journalistic, close in tone to Sunday supplement pieces, and a bit jazzy ("It was love bubbling on a stove, love shouting at the low-slung midnight moon"). Entertaining and easy reading it is, but as DeRamus reaches beyond the famously heroic figures into the lives of the little known, she enriches and alters our perspective on 19th-century African-American daily life. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.