Instaread Summary of The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Five out of five stars
From the summary, it is clear that the book is more a combination of science fiction and fantasy rather than the facts of slavery that it is based on. In this case, the underground railroad is an actual railroad that is underground, with stations, stops and railroad cars. As was the case in history, the railroad is the mechanism where runaway slaves are transported out of the slave-holding south to freedom.
While violence and cruelty was part of the suppression of the slaves, it is clearly exaggerated in this book. White people that worked on the abolitionist side in helping runaway slaves were punished, but people, including slaves, were not killed in the cavalier manner to the extent that is depicted here.
Black men were used as experimental subjects for the deliberate injection of syphilis in the twentieth century, so that is moved back a century in time. The inclusion of the plague of yellow fever in Tennessee as well as large sections of the state being on fire due to unstated reasons is right out of the darker fantasy novel genre.
From this summary, the reader acquires a detailed understanding of the book as well as the knowledge that it is largely fantasy rather than fact. The author of the summary is to be commended for making that very clear in the “Author’s style” section.
This book was made available for free for review purposes.