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Going underground

Colson Whitehead's novel, The underground railroad is a chilling but compelling book following Cora, a woman born into slavery on a Georgia plantation. Abandoned by her mother, who runs away from the plantation, Cora is left alone to fend for herself in a brutal setting, where the cruelty of the slave-masters begets cruelty among the slaves. Cora however has never thought of running away until she meets Caesar, a fellow-slave, who by a piece of ill-luck or possibly negligence on the part of a former owner, should have been freed. Caesar sees a spark in Cora, and invites her to join him on a desperate flight to freedom.

Whitehead expertly undercuts all the "happy slaves on plantations" rubbish. Uncle Tom's Cabin may have been the book that was allegedly a catalyst for the American Civil War, but even that (perhaps because of the censorship of the times, perhaps because even Harriet Beecher Stowe didn't fully comprehend the situation) was nowhere near as brutal as…

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