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Extended Audio Sample Underground Airlines, by Ben H. Winters 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: Ben H. Winters Narrator: William DeMerrit Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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It is the present-day, and the world is as we know it: smartphones, social networking, and happy meals—save for one thing: the Civil War never occurred.

A gifted young black man calling himself Victor has struck a bargain with federal law enforcement, working as a bounty hunter for the US Marshall Service. He’s got plenty of work. In this version of America, slavery continues in four states called “the Hard Four.” On the trail of a runaway known as Jackdaw, Victor arrives in Indianapolis knowing that something isn’t right—with the case file, with his work, and with the country itself.

A mystery to himself, Victor suppresses his memories of his childhood on a plantation and works to infiltrate the local cell of a abolitionist movement called the Underground Airlines. Tracking Jackdaw through the back rooms of churches, empty parking garages, hotels, and medical offices, Victor believes he’s hot on the trail. But his strange, increasingly uncanny pursuit is complicated by a boss who won’t reveal the extraordinary stakes of Jackdaw’s case, as well as by a heartbreaking young woman and her child who may be Victor’s salvation. Victor himself may be the biggest obstacle of all—though his true self remains buried, it threatens to surface.

Victor believes himself to be a good man doing bad work, unwilling to give up the freedom he has worked so hard to earn. But in pursuing Jackdaw, Victor discovers secrets at the core of the country’s arrangement with the Hard Four, secrets the government will preserve at any cost.

Underground Airlines is a ground-breaking novel, a wickedly imaginative thriller, and a story of an America that is more like our own than we’d like to believe.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Strange, modern…[A] genre-bending detective yarn.”


  • “As a feat of world-building, Underground Airlines is astonishing, immediately taking its place in the genre’s very first rank.”

    USA Today

  • “[Winters] wants to get us to see the past in the present—the innumerable ways that we still live in a world made by slavery.”

    New Yorker

  • “The novel succeeds so well in part because its fiction is disturbingly close to our present reality.”

    Washington Post

  • “[A] striking work of speculative fiction.”


  • “Like Victor, Winters, who is white, has a wonderful ability to inhabit different characters…[and] creates a believable world out of telling details.”

    Boston Globe

  • "A masterful work of art with a gripping mystery at its most basic level. It’s also a complex allegory woven throughout with sparking rich dialogue and multiple shades of awareness.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “Narrator William DeMeritt expertly captures the bleak tone of Winters’ daring alternate history…DeMeritt provides the shadow of that cloud through the dark mood of Winters’ conflicted protagonist, Victor. He starkly contrasts Victor with the apathetic monotone of his boss, Mr. Bridge, enhancing the potential for a strong emotional response from listeners…Superb. Winner of the AudioFIle Earphones Award.”


  • “Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man meets Blade Runner in this outstanding alternate-history thriller.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “A timely novel focusing on race and equality…Winters handles the controversial topic with sensitivity, yet isn’t afraid to ask some bold questions along the way.”


  • A New York Times Pick for New Books We're Reading This Summer
  • An O Magazine’s Reading Room Pick
  • A Chicago Tribune Pick of Books You Should Read This Summer
  • An Elle Magazine Pick of 15 Addictive New Books That Are Perfect for the Beach
  • An Indie Next List Pick for July 2016
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
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