Underground Airlines

Underground Airlines

by Ben H. Winters

Paperback(Reprint)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316261258
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 07/18/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 108,026
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Ben H. Winters is the author of, most recently, World of Trouble, the concluding book in the Last Policeman trilogy. The second book, Countdown City, was an NPR Best Book of 2013 and the winner of the Philip K. Dick Award for Distinguished Science Fiction. The Last Policeman was the recipient of the 2012 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America; it was also named one of the Best Books of 2012 by Amazon.com and Slate.

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Underground Airlines 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a well researched alternative history novel. I think my only issue was that the finale of the book comes crashing in rather abruptly and somewhat overwhelmed me. Good read though and worth the money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too much thought detail slows the story to a call.
Andrew_of_Dunedin More than 1 year ago
Ben H. Winters has a history of addressing social issues by causing the reader to think while reading novels based on a single adjusted “historical” (past, present, or future) premise. In “The Last Policeman” trilogy, society breaks down due to a meteor heading towards Earth. And in Underground Airlines, President-elect Abraham Lincoln was assassinated while traveling to Washington for his inauguration; a political compromise in the aftermath produced 3 constitutional amendments irrecoverably allowing the southern states to maintain slavery in perpetuity. THEY could choose to opt out, and most did, BUT with 4 states – the “Hard Four” – retaining the practice, the United States becomes a trading pariah to the rest of the world (with exception of states like South Africa); materials from states such as Carolina (the merger of the former North and South states) and Alabama are anathema to the rest of the nation. The Federal Marshal service has become the enforcement arm of the law; fugitive slaves are tracked throughout the country to be returned to their now mostly-corporate masters. In fact, a few runaway slaves are waylaid by the service and trained to become hunters; hunters of runaway slaves AND of the Underground Airlines that helps to transport them to the safety of Canada. THIS is the tale Winters tells … The tale of a former slave named (maybe) Victor, chasing a runaway through the Underground Airlines for the U.S. Marshal's service – except, something feels off-kilter about this case … I quickly found myself engrossed in this novel; the attitude of “that's just the way it is” collides with “not now, never again” in the population. Further, the concept of equality is an obvious myth, even in the Northern states. Attitudes among many of the population and police echo back to the US before the 1960s, in which African Americans in the free states are obviously second-class citizens, expected to produce ID and explain their presence in a given location at the drop of a hat. (Given the emergence of the alt-right over the past few years, one has to wonder if Mr. Winters is trying to tell us something …) I cannot put this into words without risking spoilers – one has to set the scene to truly appreciate the action and characterization. However, it is definitely a page turner and well worth the investment of time and money. RATING: 5 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
theresma More than 1 year ago
Although it has as its premise the pre-inauguration assassination of Lincoln (and the subsequent never-abolishing of slavery in the US), this book is less about race-based slavery per se, and more about what happens when a country dehumanizes an entire group of people. In the words of the protagonist, "Everything happens." Victor (a.k.a. Jim Dirkson, a.k.a. Brother) is a fascinating, multi-layered character who illustrates painfully and realistically what happens when a person commits a grievous wrong to save his own skin. ***SPOILER ALERT*** Victor's killing of his own brother at age 14 to ensure his own escape from slavery on Bell's Farm traps him in a prison of guilt as powerful as the "leash" of his government-implanted tracking chip in its ability to convince him that he must keep doing wrong, and that (as he says toward the end of the book) "everything I've gotten since I have deserved." Reminiscent both of Abby Johnson's "Unplanned" and of Stephen Fry's *Making History,* Winter's scorching, soul-tearing chronicle shows the depths to which humanity can sink when evil goes unchecked as well as the soul-killing effects that such evil has even on its most bystander-ish participants and beneficiaries. Fortunately for the reader (and for humanity), Winter also points the way out. What can happen when a human being repents of his own evil choices and decides to fight? "Everything can happen. Everything is possible." I plan to give this book to everyone on my gift list. I only wish I could give it to people I don't know.
Lilac_Wolf More than 1 year ago
A Lilac Wolf and Stuff Review **I received a copy of this book from my library in exchange for absolutely nothing - and I love them for it.** This book deserves a review. It has to be one of the most powerful novels I've read in a long time. Ben is a master at mashing up genres. The Last Policeman trilogy, which I also reviewed, was science fiction, dystopian, apocalyptic and most of all a mystery. But how to review something like this? It really has to go into what genre...science fiction? Fantasy? It's an alternate universe story that asks, what would our reality be like if the Civil War never happened? If slavery were still legal today? And his take on that is disturbing. I'm not saying it's a bad story or he's a bad author. It's a fantastic story and he's a great author. But the level of open hostility and racism that is not only allowed, but expected. This is especially true in the Big Four - the remaining four states that still have slavery. I think Ben really went out there to write a character that was not only a black man, but also a former slave, and a U.S. Marshall tasked with capturing escaped slaves. Just imagine the nuances of this character...how conflicted does he have to feel? It is full of flashbacks to his childhood, his brother, and ultimately how he ended up where he is currently. The thing that bothered me the most, is that the racism in this universe isn't that different from what we are still seeing in our own timeline. I think this book really shines a stage light on one of the most important issues with our country. There was a certain amount of hope in this story, but our main character doesn't seem to have any. He is convinced nothing will change, and his having the perspective of having been a slave and knowing how easily he could be back there colors that. I can't do this one justice. You just have to read it. You won't find solutions, but you will find something to chew on and a great story to go along with it.
CherylM-M More than 1 year ago
The most worrying element of this story is the plausibility of this scenario. What could have been and what could still be. The topic of racism is at the forefront of society, as we watch the civil unrest in the US rise and the topic of refugees cause conflict in Europe. The truth is racism has always been an underlying issue in the US. The civil movement, segregation and slavery isn’t really that long ago. So this story is en-vogue in a sense, and the premise is a red flag with absolutely realistic scenarios. In this book slavery was never abolished. in fact it has become a well oiled industry. It is also supposedly a humane industry, but hey it’s slavery and greedy men will always exploit the vulnerable. Instead of humane treatment, the slaves, known as PBL’s ‘person bound by labour’ suffer pain and humiliation at the hands of their captors. Some of them are even killed, despite it being illegal to do so. Victor was once a PBL who escaped the injustice of his situation only to be forced into a new kind of slavery. He is what the Kapos were to the concentration camp inmates. He is a betrayer to his own people. It’s his job to hunt down the ones who are lucky enough to escape. I like the fact Winters has had the gumption to take the idea back to the beginning of the end and change the historical narrative. This is what half of the country wanted and what it could possibly have evolved into under a different set of circumstances. To be completely frank the Pigmentation Taxonomies really struck a chord with me. It or the descriptions bring the inhumanity of it all to the forefront: moderate charcoal, brass highlights #41, moderate chestnut, sunflower highlights #142 or twilight, purple tone #122. It objectifies all of them in a way I can’t even begin to fathom and could never relate to. Underground Airlines serves as a stark reminder of the race issues that simmer under the surface and how much damage the social philosophy of eugenics has caused and continues to cause. We are one race, the human race. As I said, it’s a powerful thought-provoking premise and read. *I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley.*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well done
KarenfromDothan More than 1 year ago
From award winning writer Ben H. Winters comes a book where history has been remade. In this version Lincoln was assassinated before he ever became President. The Civil War never happened. Instead a deal was struck and a constitutional amendment was passed forevermore making slavery legal. Fast forward to the present, and three million people are enslaved in the Hard Four. A covert organization known as the “Underground Airlines,” does what it can by spiriting some of the luckier ones out of the south and northward into Canada and freedom. The U.S. Marshalls Service uses captured runaway slaves to track down the escapees by any means possible. What a fantastic protagonist! He’s whip-smart, tough, a chameleon, but most of all a survivor. The author does a terrific job of taking an idea, writing a story and making it seem so real. The tension and suspense throughout the book is palpable. A hauntingly good read.