Freeman

( 43 )

Overview


Freeman, the new novel by Leonard Pitts, Jr., takes place in the first few months following the Confederate surrender and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Upon learning of Lee's surrender, Sam--a runaway slave who once worked for the Union Army--decides to leave his safe haven in Philadelphia and set out on foot to return to the war-torn South. What compels him on this almost-suicidal course is the desire to find his wife, the mother of his only child, whom he and their son left behind 15 years earlier on ...
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Freeman

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Overview


Freeman, the new novel by Leonard Pitts, Jr., takes place in the first few months following the Confederate surrender and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Upon learning of Lee's surrender, Sam--a runaway slave who once worked for the Union Army--decides to leave his safe haven in Philadelphia and set out on foot to return to the war-torn South. What compels him on this almost-suicidal course is the desire to find his wife, the mother of his only child, whom he and their son left behind 15 years earlier on the Mississippi farm to which they all "belonged."

At the same time, Sam's wife, Tilda, is being forced to walk at gunpoint with her owner and two of his other slaves from the charred remains of his Mississippi farm into Arkansas, in search of an undefined place that would still respect his entitlements as slaveowner and Confederate officer.

The book's third main character, Prudence, is a fearless, headstrong white woman of means who leaves her Boston home for Buford, Mississippi, to start a school for the former bondsmen, and thus honor her father’s dying wish.

At bottom, Freeman is a love story--sweeping, generous, brutal, compassionate, patient--about the feelings people were determined to honor, despite the enormous constraints of the times. It is this aspect of the book that should ensure it a strong, vocal, core audience of African-American women, who will help propel its likely critical acclaim to a wider audience. At the same time, this book addresses several themes that are still hotly debated today, some 145 years after the official end of the Civil War. Like Cold Mountain, Freeman illuminates the times and places it describes from a fresh perspective, with stunning results. It has the potential to become a classic addition to the literature dealing with this period. Few other novels so powerfully capture the pathos and possibility of the era particularly as it reflects the ordeal of the black slaves grappling with the promise--and the terror--of their new status as free men and women.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Pitts once again demonstrates his gift for historical fiction; having examined the African-American experience of the 20th century in 2009's Before I Forget, he turns his lens to the painful aftermath of the Civil War in his newest. The traumatic period is viewed from the perspectives of two very different, but equally inspirational protagonists. As soon as the end of the fighting has been announced, runaway slave Sam can only think of reuniting with his wife, Tilda, whom he has not seen in 15 years. Despite the difficulties of travelling from his current home of Philadelphia to Buford, Mississippi, and his uncertainty about how warmly she will welcome him, Sam perseveres. His encounters in the South, which jarringly assert that the end of the war does not equal an end to bigotry and hatred, parallel those of Prudence Kent. An affluent white woman from Boston, Kent is headed to Buford to establish a school for former slaves, an idealistic vision that rapidly earns the violent wrath of white Southerners. In lyrical prose, Pitts unflinchingly and movingly portrays the period's cruelties, and triumphs in capturing the spirit of the times through eminently-identifiable lead characters.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From the Publisher

PRAISE FOR FREEMAN:

"Columnist Leonard Pitts turns out a pretty powerful love story." —Audie Cornish, All Things Considered

"A uniquely American epic...Freeman is an important addition to the literature of slavery and the Civil War, by a knowledgeable, compassionate and relentlessly truthful writer determined to explore both enslavement in all its malignancy and also what it truly means to be free." —Howard Frank Mosher, Washington Post

"Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist [Leonard] Pitts once again demonstrates his gift for historical fiction.... In lyrical prose, Pitts unflinchingly and movingly portrays the period's cruelties, and triumphs in capturing the spirit of the times through eminently identifiable lead characters." —Publishers Weekly starred review

"Leonard Pitts has a passion for history and a gift for storytelling. Both shine in this story of love and redemption, which challenges everything we thought we knew about how our nation dealt with its most stubborn stain." —Gwen Ifill, PBS, author of The Breakthrough

"Freeman is a myth of what’s humanly possible, a needed story about little-known heroism, and a shadow thrown forward to the struggles of American families in the 21st century." —John Timpane, Philadelphia Inquirer

"A wonderful, moving, riveting novel." —Gabrielle Union, actress

"Post-Civil War America is fertile ground for novelists, but few have tilled it with such grace and majesty as Leonard Pitts. In Freeman, Pitts weaves a beguiling, cinematic love story against a rich tapestry of American history, evoking unforgettable characters in a narrative that could easily replace a shelf of textbooks. What a splendid read!" —Herb Boyd, co-editor of By Any Means Necessary—Malcolm X: Real, not Reinvented

"Leonard Pitts, Jr., who won a Pulitzer Prize for his searing Miami Herald columns, may well pick up that award again for Freeman...[Pitts] richly illuminates the interior lives of free and enslaved Black folks. He also delivers a sweeping romance that reaffirms the power of love even against the most horrific circumstances." —Patrik Henry Bass, Essence magazine

"Rich in period details from the mundane to the most atrocious, the captivating story Pitts weaves is simplistic in its resonance but complex in its emotions. The characters and their growth, their fierce and stirring highs and lows, their battles with their own prejudices, make this novel unforgettable." —Amy Canfield, Miami Herald

"The characters are multi-dimensional and the historical detail is astonishingly accurate. Freeman is an engrossing, moving read and an original portrayal of a pivotal time in our nation's history." —IndieBound's Indie Next List for June, Terri Weiner, Village Books, Bellingham, Washington

"Leonard Pitts, Jr. crafts a novel as well as the great storytellers of our time. Freeman captured my attention from the very first sentence and my heart throughout. Sam and Tilda will stay with me for a very long time. I can't let them go." —Sybil Wilkes, The Tom Joyner Morning Show

"Author Leonard Pitts, Jr. serves up a novel that's both ugly and beautiful, with characters that you'll feel honored to know...one of the finest Civil War novels I've ever read. If you promised yourself one decent book this summer, then look no further because this is it. Read three pages of Freeman and you'll know that this isn't a story you'll soon forget." —Terri Schlichenmeyer, The Bookworm Sez

"Seamlessly, [Pitts] weaves together the fates of people in a way that is both incredible yet exactly how it should be...this book is an eye-opening commentary on devotion during this tangled chapter of American history." —Wendi Thomas, Memphis Commercial Appeal

"I fell in love with Leonard Pitts Jr.'s fiction with Before I Forget. Now he's out with a new one, Freeman....It's a beautiful book, and I highly recommend it." —Carleen Brice, White Readers Meet Black Authors blog

"An epic tale of love and war, this novel resonates with humanity’s depth of longing and hope in the most atrocious circumstances....Astounding for its portrayal of the vulnerability inherent in lost innocence and tragedy, Freeman is a beautiful story of redemption, compassion and love....I highly recommend this book. It will leave you craving more. It is simply astonishing." —BookPeople's Blog, Austin, Texas

"This gripping and difficult novel remains a story of imperfect triumph for those former slaves and for the handful of whites who try to help them...[Pitts] keeps the reader hooked through outrage after outrage." —Arlene McKanic, BookPage

"Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Leonard Pitts, Jr. is a compelling storyteller and in Freeman he explores the meaning of freedom; he expresses a tone of sympathy for his characters troubles in this gripping tale about sacrifice and determination." —Clarence Reynolds, The Network Journal

"It's the kind of book that you have to read, like stories of the Holocaust. Freeman reminds us of our humanity." —Nancy Olson, owner of Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, North Carolina

"Eye-opening...[Freeman] should give us insight into the capacity for love between men, women and children, separated by the institution of slavery." —Charles E. Richardson, Macon Telegraph (Georgia)

PRAISE FOR LEONARD PITTS, JR.:

"Leonard Pitts, Jr. is the most insightful and inspiring columnist of his generation." —Tavis Smiley

"He refuses to be predictable or to rest on his considerable laurels. He is funny when you think there's not a smidgen of humor to be found, enraged at the very moment we thought we no longer cared, and he shakes us up just when we're so certain we have it all figured out. In other words, he makes us better for having read him. What a gift. In sparse, often electric prose, Pitts challenges us to be bigger than we thought possible, and then shows us how to get there." —Connie Schultz, Cleveland Plain-Dealer

"As a long-time reader and admirer, I find there is only one thing to question about Leonard Pitts being awarded the Pulitzer Prize: What took them so long?" —Bob Costas

The Washington Post
Leonard Pitts Jr.'s powerful novel…is a uniquely American epic of the little-known reign of terror between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of Reconstruction. Pitts…is a compelling storyteller…Freeman is an important addition to the literature of slavery and the Civil War, by a knowledgeable, compassionate and relentlessly truthful writer determined to explore both enslavement in all its malignancy and also what it truly means to be free.
—Howard Frank Mosher
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781932841640
  • Publisher: Agate
  • Publication date: 5/8/2012
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 290,415
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author


Leonard Pitts, Jr. was born and raised in Southern California and now lives in suburban Washington, DC, with his wife and children. He is a columnist for the Miami Herald and won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, in addition to many other awards. He is also the author of the novel Before I Forget (Agate Bolden, 2009); the collection Forward From this Moment: Selected Columns, 1994-2009, Daily Triumphs, Tragedies, and Curiosities (Agate Bolden, 2009); and Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood (Agate Bolden, 2006).
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 43 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(32)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 43 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 1, 2012

    Outstanding

    Though my reading preferences vary, historical fiction such as this, that engages you from the very first chapter and doesn't let you go, is amoung my favorites. This is a view of African-Americans, and of a culture of the south after the civil war that is portrayed with empathy, and with an understanding I've not read before. This novel fills you with emotion, and makes you sad that it ends.

    17 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2012

    One of the best books of 2012!

    Freeman is the story of Sam, a runaway slave, who upon the ending of the Civil War walks from Philadelphia to Mississippi to reunite with his true love, Tilda. Tilda is currently being marched across state lines from Mississippi by her owner who refuses to accept emancipation. Prudence is a young white woman from Boston who wants to start a school for freed colored people in Mississippi. Pitts is realistic, intricate, and thorough in this novel. I enjoyed every page. As a fan of historic fiction, I was pleased. I highly recommend it!

    9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2012

    Great book

    Loved this book. It will take you back after the civil ear ended. You will feel like you are on a journey with two of the "freed" slaves. It will bring tears to your eyes. I couldn't put it down after I started.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2012

    A Wonderful Read!

    From the very first page this book drew me in and even after ending, it's still in my thoughts. It is such a rich story of fiction but it pulls at our nations conscience.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2012

    Highly recommended

    One of the best books I have read in years. You really get drawn into the story and into the lives of the main characters.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2013

    This book was outstanding in every respect. I envy the experienc

    This book was outstanding in every respect. I envy the experience those of you who have not read it are going to have when you sit down with one of the best books I have ever read!
    An Avid Reader

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 26, 2013

    BRILLIANT!! Leonard Pitts, Jr's story "Freeman" is BR

    BRILLIANT!!

    Leonard Pitts, Jr's story "Freeman" is BRILLIANT and one of the best historical fiction novels I have ever read!  The characters are rich within the tapestry woven for them, blended to transfix you, and stitched together during a most tumultuous time in our history.  I truly believe that this novel should be listed as an "American Classic".

    The lives of the slaves after the Civil War, in someways was just as cruel as slavery.  Being "free" came with a high cost to many, with no where to go, no money and  continued cruelty from the white community. Many slave owners refused to admit defeat to the North and continued treating their slaves as property instead of as human beings.  There were many families that had been broken apart and having very few clues as to their location began searching for their loved ones, with often terrifying results.

    Emotional and riveting "Freeman" is a true masterpiece.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2012

    What a journy.....Excellent read

    I am a fan of historical fiction especially focusing on the civil war or the black experience. This story is quit compelling, heartfelt, and sad. Its an emotional roller coastor. A journey that takes a thousand miles, perserverence and faith.....

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2012

    I am not a Black person, but I loved this book. I felt the pain

    I am not a Black person, but I loved this book. I felt the pain of both cultures in their struggle to change.
    This novel touched me to the very core of my being---how easy it is to forget what the slaves had to go through both then and now. How easy it is to blame stagnation on what happened centuries ago.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2013

    Great book

    Couldnt stop reading

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2013

    Excellent Historical Novel

    It is an excellent book and it shows the horrors that came out of slavery . If you like historic fiction you'll love this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2012

    Wonderful, moving  story with twists and turns

    Wonderful, moving  story with twists and turns

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  • Posted December 10, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Highly recommended

    About life & bigotry after the end of the Civil War. Down to earth & real. Not slanted, just life as it was.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2012

    This was one of the best books I have read in a long time. It

    This was one of the best books I have read in a long time. It gives you pause on how everyone's life has a purpose. Mr. Pitts has expertly written an historical novel that has modern ties. I think we still live in a time were African Americans are still thought of as less and judged purely by the color of their skin. The novel has spoken some truths about what it means to be African American in the United States (past and present) and I will forever be changed by it. Thank you Mr. Pitts!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2012

    Heart wrenching read!

    Freeman grabs you from the beginning and holds on long after you put it down. Mr. Pitts tells of Lincoln's assassination from the slave's perspective and shows the chaos and turmoil of the time, described in vivid detail. When I rounded the corner on the last pages, I felt like I was leaving behind friends.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2012

    OMG!

    I loved loved loved this story.........
    I could not put it down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2012

    One of the BEST!!!

    If you read "HELP". This is a MUST READ. I'd give it 10 stars!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2012

    A Must Read!

    This book was amazing! It should be made into a movie. The characters were very well developed! It took a chapter or so to really get good, but it is worth it. I could not put this book down! Every chance I got to read it-I was reading!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2012

    Captivating!

    Didn't want to put this book down. A must read for those that love history and a good story.

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  • Posted August 30, 2012

    skldfjsd

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    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 43 Customer Reviews

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