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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,855 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: James McBride Narrator: Leslie Uggams Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2008 ISBN: 9781429592536
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Nowhere has the drama of American slavery played itself out with more tension than in the dripping swamps of Maryland's eastern shore, where abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, born less than thirty miles apart, faced off against nefarious slave traders in a catch-me-if-you-can game that fueled fear and brought economic hardship to both white and black families. Trapped in the middle were the watermen, a group of America's most original and colorful pioneers, poor oystermen who often found themselves caught between the needs of rich plantation owners and the roaring Chesapeake, which often claimed their lives. 

The powerful web of relationships in a small Chesapeake Bay town collapses as two souls face off in a gripping page-turner. Liz Spocott, a young runaway who has odd dreams about the future of the colored race, mistakenly inspires a breakout from the prison attic of a notorious slave thief named Patty Cannon. As Cannon stokes revenge, Liz flees into the nefarious world of the underground railroad with its double meanings and unspoken clues to freedom known to the slaves of Dorchester County as “The Code.” Denwood Long, a troubled slave catcher and eastern shore waterman, is coaxed out of retirement to break “The Code” and track down Liz.

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sherie | 2/11/2014

    " I liked this book because the author is confident enough with his story line that "good and evil" are not a racial issue. It is a book about a time in history when one man sets out to right what he perceives to be a great wrong. It is his struggle to know who he is and how he will go about discovering the secrets of "self"and comes to terms with it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 L Taylor hempelman | 2/7/2014

    " newest from James McBride...we'll see how it goes "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cam | 2/6/2014

    " I really enjoyed this book - it reminded me a bit of The Chaneysville Incident but not quite so complex. Well written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nadine | 1/23/2014

    " I was impressed by this one. It is an interesting story of the underground railroad that is loosely based on the life of Harriet Tubman. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Belinda | 1/19/2014

    " This was an amazing story and I loved the different twists and turns of the plot. I listened to it and was absolutely transfixed. I found myself not wanting to get out of the car when I reached by destination. I learned a wonderful new array of Chesapeake Bay curses, oathes, and colloquialisms. Leslie Uggams did a fantastic job of reading and kept me hanging on her every word. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cherita | 1/18/2014

    " This is our next bookclub selection. I haven't started reading it yet... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tam Muhlbach | 1/17/2014

    " Riveting book, close to a 4 star rating and I learned some new things about the era as well. Of course, it is not a fun read, but very interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Garryvivianne | 12/31/2013

    " Really enjoyed this book. Everything was so visual. Pretty interesting ending also. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michael | 12/6/2013

    " Read this one for my book club. It's an Underground Railway story that has a great connection to the future. This was an easy to read page-turner. It's a story of good overcoming evil. I highly recommend it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Moira Thomas | 10/17/2013

    " Not only well written but a beautiful story of the Underground Railroad on Marylands eastern shore. All time favorite! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katie | 8/14/2013

    " wonderful writing but I am not sure how I feel about all the references to the future. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mandy | 7/3/2013

    " This book caught my attention recently, after visiting the underground railroad museum.I'm glad I picked it up! I enjoyed the creativity with the Dreamer's character the most. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Arlene Dunn | 3/27/2013

    " One of my all time favorite books ever - it was on the 2009 vacation reading list. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paul Bulger | 8/31/2012

    " An intriguing historic romantic adventure through a slave driven U.S. that covers the difficult decisions between freedom, loyalty, and love. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michelle | 6/30/2012

    " The author did a great job winding together the stories for each of the characters. It was interesting to read a story about my area and what it may have been like in that timeframe. All and all a good read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah Weisner | 4/30/2012

    " This is an amazing book! There are so many valuable life lessons tied into an excellent story that keeps the reader engaged and thinking the entire time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Haylee Frohlich | 4/4/2012

    " The best book I've read in a while. I hadn't read a fictionalized account of the underground railroad before...it was fascinating. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Karla | 3/16/2012

    " There wasn't enough character exploration in here to me. It could've been a great book, but there wasn't enough room to really open it up and get to the meat of it without it being 500 pages long. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Valerie | 1/14/2012

    " This was such a lyrical book. I hate when young children are put in peril but glad that this plot point was resolved in the way that it was. Another book that amazes me with the power of people to overcome their circumstances. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joe | 12/17/2011

    " good story and, from what I could tell, historical accuracy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 April | 8/15/2011

    " This was a great book. I want to go read his others. Interesting book about slaves in the Underground Railroad trying to leave Maryland. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sabeen | 8/8/2011

    " This was a very engaging and descriptive book. I enjoyed McBride's writing style and the characters. There were many characters, but they all were connected and played interesting roles in the story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Claudia | 5/21/2011

    " Powerful. Plunked you right down in the era and washed over you with emotion. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Arlene | 5/12/2011

    " One of my all time favorite books ever - it was on the 2009 vacation reading list. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Riva | 5/9/2011

    " Gripping plot, beautiful intense description of a section of the Chesapeake area.
    The main character was inspired by Harriet Tubman.
    Provocative issues around human evil/good. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Zach | 3/30/2011

    " A fictional story of runaways and slave catchers on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. A quick read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marjorie | 3/27/2011

    " A bit disappointed with the violent end to some key characters but still a very good book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Roberta | 3/20/2011

    " Set in slavery during the secret one-by-one revolution, featuring one psychic escapee. I often read books I can learn from. This fits that category. Very interesting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sabrina | 3/7/2011

    " Even better on CD. Love it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leah | 2/25/2011

    " One of the best books I've read it a long time! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Broadsnark | 2/6/2011

    " It was a good story, but I had to take away a star for all the crap about "real men." And something else bothered me about it too, but I haven't put my finger on it yet. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laya | 1/10/2011

    " This was one of the best books I've read set on my home turf (Maryland's Eastern Shore). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kim | 1/3/2011

    " Categorized as historical fiction, but lost me as a reader towards the end of the book. I gave it 3 stars because the ending was unbelievable. The ending played like a B rated action movie. "

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About the Author
Author James McBride

James McBride is an accomplished musician and National Book Award–winning author of the American classic The Color of Water and the bestsellers Song Yet Sung and Miracle at St. Anna, which was turned into a film by Spike Lee. A graduate of Oberlin College, he has a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. He also holds several honorary doctorates and is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University.