The Underground Railroad Book Reviews

Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead Book Summary

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, the #1 New York Times bestseller from Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.
     In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.
     Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey—hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre–Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

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Book Name The Underground Railroad
Genre Literary
Language English
E-Book Size 5.66 MB

The Underground Railroad (Colson Whitehead) Book Reviews 2023

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TOUGH TO GET THROUGH. After reading 1/3 of this book, I couldn't read anymore. It just sort of kept dragging on, and on, and on. I never really got what the author was trying to achieve and finally just couldn't read anymore. I honestly don't get what all the hype is about it.

A confused thriller. First of all . I like idea of the book . But when I dived into it i found myself stranding btw confusing aspects. The first one is the chapters are so long and so twisted I couldn't find any connection btw them . The second is the protagonists haven't been so sold to make you consistently whether interact or bond with them.

Horrible in its reality yet uplifting in the glimpses of humanity. Thank you for this work of art.. Couldn’t put it down

The Underground Railroad. Great read!

An actual underground railroad?. I’m enjoying this book but ... the author describes in great detail an actual train in an underground tunnel. Based on my other reading, there was no such thing. I’m certainly not an expert on the Underground Railroad but I doubt this existed. Why move from nicely written historical fiction to fantasy? This is a real flaw in the plot that asks the reader to suspend logic. I’m still reading this and otherwise think it’s a good read.

Cora. Compelling story of a young slave girl and her escapes from slave owners and their posses.

A great book, a great read, BUT. What a great read, a real page turner...BUT....there was no physical underground railroad, as this book depicts. The Underground Railroad was a network of houses, barns, paths, waterways, and above all people who helped slaves escape the horrors of slavery. There was NOT a literal set of trains and train tracks underground. I wish. Think. The first transcontinental railroad was built above ground at great cost between 1863 and 1869. How then could there be a sophisticated underground rail system from Florida to Canada via Indiana by the 1830's, as this book suggests? There wasn't. There isn't. So my only complaint with the book is I wish the author had done a bit more research. But what a great story. Thank you.

Ok. Mostly well written. Rambling in places. Disjointed. Lots of page skipping when the author chased tangents needlessly. Distracting side stories that might have been added for filler?

REAL!. Ummm, the book soooo real I would often get mad and stop reading it!! Excellent work!!

Fantastic Read. Great book enjoyed every page

Not a bad book. Underground Railroad is a great book to read if your into historical fiction or your looking to read something different. This book is an emotional rollercoaster one minute your excited about a situation and then next minute you want to cry and yell.

Amazing. To be able to tell a tale in such amazing detail that brings the reader into the circumstances described. I read this in 2 days unable to put it down. It brought tears to my eyes the recall how cruel we can be yet all the time hopeful of a positive outcome for the ‘heroine’ Cora. Boo to the readers who didn’t get the poetic license about a physical railroad. Such small minds. I am amazed at the author’s ability to craft such an intricate story. Truly an artist.

The Underground Railroad. This book of fiction provides the realities of the slave experience and teaches us about how those subjugated managed to cope with such inhumanity. Cora's survival is an inspiring tale of resilience and unwillingness to capitulate, no matter how dire the realities she faced.

Excellent. An extremely inventive and effective imagination, that captures the brutal inhumanity of slavery in the US.

Read this. This is a must read for any Whitehead fans, and anyone interested in slave narratives. Though a novel, the horrors are quite real. Makes it plain what a scourge slavery was.

Gripping, Heartbreaking and Brilliant. An incredibly written and hauntingly beautiful piece of work. I couldn’t put it down and wanted desperately to keep reading Cora’s story. The author has done an amazing job bringing to life the harsh realities of that era. Don’t wait. Start reading this now!

Insight about our terrible past via a wonderfully written story. That says it all!

No recommended. The story, promising at first, drags on an on and is difficult to follow. I found myself skipping here and there just to get to the end. I do not recommend this book.

Page Turner. This is was an awfully realistic book. This was astonishingly a very good read. The authors writing was superb recommend this book. I really enjoyed the characters the authors put in the book.

The Underground Railroad. Great book Hard to keep up with the characters in places

So so. I found the first half of this book to be very intriguing but then it quickly turned confusing and slow to read. If the 2nd half of the book was as good as the first I would've rated this at least a 4.

Interesting take on the Underground Railroad. We have heard of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. This book adds a fictional account to the story and gives it both a realistic and fantastic view.

Superb. Gripping story with well developed characters. A must read.

Cora is my superwomen. Witnessing the constant heartaches and evil Cora endures brings me sadness, however the strength ad her power in a pushing forward is truly inspiring. This book was amazing and I finished in 4 days I simply couldn't put it down!

An Honesty Read.. Colson does a good job at showing g the horrendous realities of slavery. Soon as you thought things were getting better for Cora tragedy struck. I've read Slavs narratives where the try a sugarcoat the truths. Slavery was brutal and colson definitely allows the reader to see how brutal it really was. It takes a minute to get into the verbiage of the book. The literary style really wasn't my favorite as it feels like it jumps around a lot, but nevertheless it was amazing story.

Riveting. A very important book especially given the current climate regarding race in this country

The Underground Railroad. Incredible to me that the Pulitzer folks would give this book any consideration at all. The author does manage a number of well written paragraphs and even whole pages but the overall premise is ridiculous and the many bogus representations pretty much trash any hope of worthwhile engagement for an educated reader. This isn't historical fiction, but fantasy. A poorly told tale with underdeveloped characters and nothing of value left with the reader. A disappointment...but at least it's short.

Excellent. This book is not a very pleasant read, but it’s a riveting one. The story is beautifully told and it’s very hard to put down. It’s a sometimes brutal but mostly lyrical telling of one of the darkest moments in our nation’s history. The characters are three dimensional and you can’t help investing in each and every one of them. You won’t read many books that are better than this one. I highly recommend it.

Everything but. That ending


Yearning to be Free. Live amongst the enslaved…and feel their yearning to be free!

I’ve read much better than this!. Whereas the story is real, it jumps around way too much. Something happens to a character, tell the reader “what happened”! Don’t wait until one or two chapters later. The story ended too soon. As a matter of fact it had no ending. The author just dropped it and left the reader (at least me) wondering, “What the hell was that?” The characters were great but the development took way too long.

A good read. Great use of the English language. The author will have me buy all of his previous works.

Disappointed. I only read the first fifty pages of the novel and thirty characters have been introduced making it very difficult to follow. Also the author's use of vulgarity did not help the cause. I was surprised that this book has so many positive reviews because it was a poorly structured piece of literature.

Terribly disappointing. I was very excited to read this book. I was very disappointed. The author should not have made an actual railroad underground. It undermined the entire book. This was my first and last “Oprah book club” book.

Unique take on the Underground Railroad!. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead tells the story of Cora and her life as a slave. Cora is a slave in Georgia. Cora is the daughter of Mabel and the granddaughter of Ajarry. After Cora’s mother escaped, Cora was alone. Cora is treated horribly by the other slaves. She gets thrown out of the where she was living with her mother and is forced to move into the Hob (a house for the slave outcasts). One day Cora is approached by Caesar. Caesar is a new to the plantation. His previous owner was a kind woman who taught him to read. She had promised Caesar his freedom upon her death, but she did not keep her promise. Caesar tells Cora about the Underground Railroad. The two of them form a plan and one day they take off. Unfortunately, things do not go quite as planned. Lovey, a fellow slave, follows them (she had been watching them). They are going through the swamps to make capture more difficult, but they did not anticipate hog hunters. The hunters realize they are runaway slaves and attempt to capture them. One of the hunters (just a boy really) ends up dead from a rock. Cora is now wanted for murder. Lovey ends up getting captured. Cora and Caesar quickly make their way to the first stop for them on the Underground Railroad. They are in for quite a journey. Some of the stops will be quick and others will be quite lengthy. Will they ever be completely free or will they continue to be hunted (especially Cora)? Ridgeway is a slave hunter who has something to prove. Ridgeway was given the task of finding Cora’s mother, Mabel. He was never able to capture her. Ridgeway is very determined to return Cora to her owner. To find out what happens to Cora and Caesar, you will have to read The Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad is a very dark novel. The majority of the novel focuses on Cora (poor Caesar). I found the writing to be awkward and difficult to read (I just did not like the author's writing style). The book lacks flow. First we are with Cora, then it jumps to someone else, then back to Cora, and then to another character. It will also go back in time to tell you the backstory of the latest character (when Cora meets someone new on the Underground Railroad). It makes it hard to read and to get into the story. I was able to finish the book, but I did not like it or enjoy it (sorry). You need to be aware that The Underground Railroad contains very graphic violence. Some of the violence is very disturbing and upsetting. I give The Underground Railroad 2 out of 5 stars. I did like Colson Whitehead’s take on the Underground Railroad. He had tunnels running all over the United States and actual trains. I was curious, though, how people above ground did not hear the loud engines of the trains. Mr. Whitehead did capture the time and place quite accurately. The ending was extremely dissatisfying.

Beautiful yet tragic story. Reading this book, I couldnt help but be in awe of the writing. The story was beautiful yet tragic. Slavery will forever be a stain on this country, like it or not...

sad subject. I think this is an interesting, important and terrible subject matter. Everyone needs to learn some about it if you haven't. I think the author could have made things more personal. I didn't feel as emotionally involved as I would have liked.

A must read. Wonderful read! Discuss and meditation on the African American experience during slavery.

A ride underground worth taking!!. You can't read this novel and still feel that the effects of slavery are not upon us.

Blown away by how truly bad this book is!. Ok, so I bought it thinking it was historical fiction and would be a good summer read, and the review(ers) were falling all over themselves about what an amazing, soon to be American classic, etc etc. Please! It should be classified as fantasy or science fiction! Bad enough that the title suggests its about the historic underground railroad and the plight, flight and struggles of those fleeing the atrocities in the south, seeking passage to the North (spoiler alert - its actually about an underground train) but even if you’re able to get into the “spirit” of the novel and forgive the somewhat blatant misuse of the historical references, its plodding, predicable and oh so annoying. If your looking for anything remotely real, or at the other end of the spectrum- something that you’ll enjoy and look forward to picking up during your “you” time, this will sorely disappoint on both fronts.

👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. A very moving and powerful book. May not be as accurate but it still tells a gripping story.

Amazing. A must read to truly understand the roots of racism. Captivating storytelling interwoven with historical accounts. I could not put it down.

The Underground Railroad. It has the Underground Railroad as an actual railroad that was underground - a series of tracks and tunnels underneath the country! I found this very disappointing. From that point on, the story was not as interesting. Maybe it was because I couldn't get over that ridiculous concept but I think it was more that the story became disjointed and confusing as the book went on.

History buffs will balk. Historically inaccurate, but good story. There were many haunting scenarios.

Tissues will be needed.. In “Underground Railroad”, a runaway slave is caught and set on fire while the slave-owning white family and their friends sit down to lunch and watch. Whitehead really does not spare any feelings in that novel. Slavery was horrifically cruel.

Not as good as the hype..... Lots of hype around this book. Was hoping it would be more historical based, with the story weaving in and out of it. Pretty boring stuff

What he said. The book was so much better than I’d anticipated—this is not the underground railroad of Frederick Douglass, though that was an unforgettable history lesson, one of the few I remember from high school. Instead, it’s, well, it is EXACTLY what the Apple reviewer described. After reading that review, all I can say is, DITTO! Also, I read it in two days; yes, it was a weekend. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down. When a writer pulls me into a harrowing world, I’m tempted to flee. Not thi time. Not even on the best of modern-day supertrains. A+

Loved every page.... This is a piece of art in itself. I don't read many books, this kept me wanting to read without the need to eat or sleep. Absolutely the best I could ask for!

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Summary of The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The The Underground Railroad book written by Colson Whitehead was published on 02 August 2016, Tuesday in the Literary category. A total of 3,295 readers of the book gave the book 4.5 points out of 5.

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