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Download The Good Lord Bird: A Novel Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Good Lord Bird: A Novel, by James McBride Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: James McBride Narrator: Michael Boatman Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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From the bestselling author of The Color of Water and Song Yet Sung comes the story of a young boy born a slave who joins John Brown’s antislavery crusade—and who must pass as a girl to survive.

Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry’s master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town—with Brown, who believes he’s a girl.

Over the ensuing months, Henry—whom Brown nicknames Little Onion—conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive. Eventually Little Onion finds himself with Brown at the historic raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859—one of the great catalysts for the Civil War.

An absorbing mixture of history and imagination and told with McBride’s meticulous eye for detail and character, The Good Lord Bird is both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Wildly entertaining…A rollicking saga about one of America’s earliest abolitionists.”

    People (4-stars)

  • “Outrageously entertaining…The Good Lord Bird rockets toward its inevitable and, yes, knee-slapping conclusion. Never has mayhem been this much of a humdinger.”

    USA Today

  • “A brilliant romp of a novel…[McBride] pulls off his portrait masterfully, like a modern-day Mark Twain: evoking sheer glee with every page.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A boisterous, highly entertaining, altogether original novel.” 

    Washington Post

  • “You may know the story of John Brown’s unsuccessful raid on Harpers Ferry, but author James McBride’s retelling of the events leading up to it is so imaginative, you’ll race to the finish.”


  • “A fascinating mix of history and mystery.”


  • “A story that’s difficult to put down.”


  • “A superbly written novel....McBride...transcends history and makes it come alive.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Absorbing and darkly funny.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “As in Huck Finn, this novel comes in through the back door of history, telling you something you might not know by putting you in the heat of the action…It is a compelling story and an important one, told in a voice that is fresh and apolitical.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • “An irrepressibly fun read.”

    Seattle Times

  • “Both breezy and sharp, a rare combination outside of Twain. You should absolutely read it.”

    New York Magazine

  • “An impressively deep comedy...It’s a view of the antebellum world refreshingly free of pieties and full of questions about the capacity of human beings to act on their sense of right and wrong, about why the world is the way it is, and what any one of us can do to make it better. It’s the rare comic novel that delves so deep.”


  • “James McBride’s witty, imaginative take on history has a hero as inventive as Huckleberry Finn and as comical as Little Big Man…Michael Boatman gives an amazing performance as ten-year-old Henry/Henrietta recounts his time with abolitionist John Brown. Boatman takes us on a wild ride, giving an authentic ring to such real characters as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman. He masterfully delivers McBride’s wonderful wordplay—from Henry’s wisecracking attitude to John Brown’s Bible-quoting orations. A great story. A great narration. Listening at its finest. Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • “Outrageously funny, sad…McBride puts a human face on a nation at its most divided.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “[A] masterful performance that lives up to all the power and humor of McBride’s words.”

    Library Journal (audio review)

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • An AudioFile Editors’ Pick, September 2013
  • A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2013
  • Winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction
  • New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books, 2013
  • A USA Today Best Book for Summer 2013
  • A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
  • A 2013 New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • A 2013 Washington Post Top 10 Book for Fiction
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2013
  • A Library Journal Best Book of 2013
  • A 2013 Oprah Magazine Top 10 Book of the Year
  • One of NPR’s Great Reads for Summer 2013
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