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Extended Audio Sample Underground Airlines, by Ben H. Winters, Ben 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, Ben Winters Narrator: William DeMeritt, 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

  • One of the Best Books of 2016- Amazon, Publishers Weekly, Goodreads
  • “Strange, modern…[A] genre-bending detective yarn.”

    Oprah.com

  • Underground Airlines is a masterwork of world-building...[the book] gives you an incredibly complex character to explore it with, ensuring that your attention is well-spent down to the last page." - LitReactor
  • A top-flight thriller that's as emotionally searing and tragically plausible as anything in contemporary fiction. Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians
  • The most timely of alternate history novels. Ben Winters has created a spellbinding world that forces the reader to look around-and to look within. This is a thriller not to be missed and one that will not be easily forgotten. Hugh Howey, New York Times-bestselling author of Wool
  • Underground Airlines is bold, brilliant, and beautiful -- everything you could want from a novel, Ben Winters delivers ten-fold. He's a writer to watch, one of exceptional vision and imagination whose characters draw the reader in to the point that an alternate history seems not only plausible, but the only one that counts until the final page. Michael Koryta, author of Those Who Wish Me Dead
  • A rich noir in a terrifingly convincing alternate America. It's both beautiful and brutal. The Handmaid's Tale for Black Lives Matter. Lauren Beukes, author of Broken Monsters and The Shining Girls
  • "Underground Airlines is like nothing I have ever read before. I know it will be a pivot point in my reading life. Thought you'd wrestled sufficiently with the stain of Slavery? Have a seat. You'll only need the edge. By spinning a pounding thriller in a past that did not happen, Winters has somehow wrapped his hands around the catastrophe that did. This is how it might have been, I kept thinking, if history had gone that way. But the moral shock at the heart of the book: Winters's rabbit hole is not strange enough, the gulf between that and this is not wide enough. Underground Airlines does what all great speculative fiction wants to do - show the reader that Everything is possible. That's the good news and bad. The novel's many-named narrator descends from Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man - his voice is mesmeric, it comes from any corner, it can boil with savagery, sing with grace or do pretty much anything in between. Oh, and he descends from Jason Bourne as well; he has mad field skills. So does Winters. You're set down in motion on a tilted mirror and then it's turn after gripping turn - my every next hour depended on which way he went.
    David Shafer, National Bestselling author of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
  • It is a rare thing when a writer has a fresh new provocative idea - and then executes it beautifully. This is what Ben H. Winters has done in his novel Underground Airlines. Imagine an America in which slavery still exists. Now imagine a dramatic telling of the story. James Patterson
  • Brilliantly written, terrifyingly conceived, Underground Airlines had me from the first page to the last. Many writers might have been content to set a few characters loose in the middle of the kind of powerful premise - slavery in four states never ended -put to work here, but Winters gives us gripping plot, clear-eyed social commentary and chilling implications. This may be alternate history, but what it has to say about actual, enduring race and racism cuts awfully close to the 21st century American bone. Laird Hunt, author of Neverhome
  • Smart, quick and tricky, Ben Winters knows how to pull off a high-concept thriller. Fans of The Man in the High Castle will love Underground Airlines. Stewart O'Nan, author of The Speed Queen
  • An extraordinary work of alternate history . . . Indisputably a winner Maureen Corrigan, NPR
  • An immersive thriller as well as a provocative alternative history, 'Underground Airlines' showcases a fully realized central character who believes his own disturbing past can be kept safely buried. But history has a way of bubbling to the surface of the present. Jean Zimmerman, New York Times Book Review
  • Chilling Alexandra Alter, New York Times
  • Explosive, well plotted, and impossible to put down, this alt-hist by the Edgar Award-winning author of the "Last Policeman" trilogy will attract readers of all genres. . . . Fast paced and filled with menace, the story has an ambience that makes it special. Library Journal (starred)
  • A daring and very well constructed novel Booklist
  • [Underground Airlines] is powerful, suspenseful, and devastating-hard to put down, even harder to forget. Family Circle
  • Strange, modern . . . [A] genre-bending detective yarn Oprah.com
  • "This is a smart and compelling thriller, set in an alternate reality that bears an uncomfortable resemblance to our own.
    Vox.com
  • “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.”

    BBC

  • “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.”

    AudioFile

  • “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.”

    BookPage

  • 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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