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Room 1219 ~ A Capsule Book Review

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Room 1219 ~ A Capsule Book Review by Allen Kopp

Room 1219, by Greg Merritt, is an American success story; how one man from humble beginnings rose to the pinnacle of his profession. It’s also a true crime story showing how that same man was ruined by a press that is more interested in dishing dirt and promulgating scandal than in being fair and objective and getting at the truth.

Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle was the biggest movie star in the world, the first to sign a contract for a million dollars a year. His onscreen persona (a good-natured, bumbling man-child) was the most recognized in the world. He lived in a mansion (for which he paid $250,000) in the most exclusive section of Hollywood. At a time when a Model T Ford cost $370 (what most people were driving, if they drove at all), Fatty drove a custom-made, $34,000 Pierce-Arrow.

On Labor Day in 1921, Fatty Arbuckle’s world came crashing down. He drove his Pierce-Arrow the 350 miles from Los Angeles to San Francisco (the road wasn’t even paved the whole way yet), rented three adjoining suites on the twelfth floor in the exclusive St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, and hosted a little party for a handful of his friends.

A minor movie actress named Virginia Rappe with pretentions of making it into the big time was in attendance at Fatty’s Labor Day party, along with three other women and three other men, besides Fatty. Miss Rappe was 30 but was always shaving a few years off her age, so it was given variously as 23 or 25. She was a showgirl, an alcoholic, and was no stranger to men or to sex. (Later, much to Fatty’s detriment, she was characterized as pure, unsullied and virginal.)

During the course of the party, Virginia Rappe became ill, apparently (to most observers) from drinking too much liquor. She began tearing at her clothes and complaining of terrible abdominal pain. She was crying and carrying on and saying things like “He hurt me” and “I’m dying.” When a doctor was summoned, the doctor determined that she had only had too much to drink and would be all right. Four days later she was dead. An autopsy revealed she had a punctured bladder resulting in peritonitis. What caused her bladder to puncture could not be determined; the autopsy doctor could only conclude it was from an “external force.”

Immediately Fatty Arbuckle, who had since returned to his home in Hollywood believing that nothing was amiss, was accused of Miss Rappe’s death. The love the world bore for him instantly turned to hate. The press labeled him as a beast and an ogre, a gross fat man with salacious appetites. He became a symbol for excess and for all that was morally wrong in America, particularly in the motion picture industry. Conversely, Virginia Rappe became a symbol for outraged purity. Both extremes were untrue and especially unfair in Fatty’s case.

What, if anything, did Fatty Arbuckle do to Virginia Rappe in that San Francisco hotel room that contributed to her death? That was the question the whole world was asking.

Fatty’s defense team (assembled at great expense) believed he would be charged with manslaughter (the grand jury’s recommendation). Crusading San Francisco district attorney Matthew Brady, however, had other notions: he sought a murder conviction. He was courting the women’s vote (woman had just been given the right to vote in 1920) and believed that women everywhere wanted Fatty to get the maximum punishment. The charge was changed from manslaughter to murder but, in the preliminary hearing, the judge determined that a murder conviction wasn’t warranted and again reduced the charge to manslaughter.

So, with much hoopla and publicity, Fatty was tried for manslaughter in a sensational trial that was the talk of the country. The trial resulted in a hung jury (10 to 2 favoring acquittal), so the whole thing had to be done over.

In the second trial, Fatty’s defense team seemed over-confident. They didn’t bother to put Fatty on the stand to explain for himself what had happened in the hotel room, and they didn’t give closing arguments. The result was another hung jury, but this time 10 to 2 for conviction.

Fatty was called to the stand to testify in his third trial. The jury believed him (the truth has a sound of its own) and, after about five minutes of deliberation, voted to acquit him. Finally, the ordeal was over. He was free to return home and resume his shattered motion picture (acting/writing/directing) career.

Not so fast, though! Six days after Fatty’s acquittal, all his movies were banned from American movie screens by the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA). (Studio heads wanted a clean slate, with Fatty gone.) So, after the terrible ordeal he had been through, he was not going to be given a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of the public. His career was effectively over. At thirty-five years of age, with possibly many more years of productivity ahead of him, he was ruined.

Copyright © 2017 by Allen Kopp

In the Garden of Beasts ~ A Capsule Book Review

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In the Garden of Beasts ~ A Capsule Book Review by Allen Kopp

In 1933, a new U.S. president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, appoints a new ambassador, William E. Dodd, to Germany. He is sixty-four years old, a history professor, scholar and writer. With his wife and adult children (Bill and Martha), he moves to Berlin to take up his duties. It is a tumultuous and transitional time in German history. The elderly president, Paul von Hindenburg, has recently appointed Adolf Hitler as chancellor, more as a move of appeasement than anything else. People feel uneasy about Hitler, with good reason. He rants and raves in his speeches. He is quietly and systematically arming Germany for war, in spite of protestations to the contrary. Hitler and his Nazi regime favor suppression of Jews, which manifests itself in beatings, intimidation, banishment to prison camps, and laws that forbid Jews from marrying non-Jews and from working in journalism and other jobs. Anybody, Jew or Aryan, who opposes Hitler and his government is subject to intimidation and professional ruin or, at worst, imprisonment or death.

Into this maelstrom, the innocent, well-meaning Dodd family is dropped. Ambassador Dodd’s twenty-three-year-old daughter, Martha, is a recent divorcee. Her favorite thing is men. In Berlin she gradually gains a reputation as something of a tramp. She goes from man to man, some of them Nazis and even a Russian communist, with whom is she is so much in love that she wants to tour Russia for a month to gain an understanding of his country. She is also an idealist who is slow at seeing things as they really are. When she first arrives in Berlin, she believes the Nazis are doing good things and improving life for all German people. Gradually she begins to see things in a different, more realistic way.

According to many observers, William E. Dodd is not a successful or effective ambassador. Being the American ambassador to Germany during the rise of Nazism is no easy task. Not only must he deal with radical Nazis, he must also deal with people from his own government who don’t like him and believe he was the wrong choice for the ambassadorial post in the first place. He seems to believe, wrongly and naively, that all he has to do is advocate moderation and common sense and the Nazis will “tone down” just because he thinks it is the right thing for them to do. This, of course, is not the way the world works. Secretary of state Cordell Hull and others in the U.S. government are mainly interested in getting Dodd to press for repayment of German debt, which Dodd does not consider as important as other matters.

During the early years of Nazism (early 1930s), many believed that Hitler and his inner circle (Goebbels, Goring, Himmler) were so radical that it was just a matter of time before rational people would see them for what they were and force them out of office. We know in retrospect, however, that this is not what happened. When President Paul von Hindenburg died in August 1934, Hitler assumed absolute control over Germany and proclaimed himself “Fuhrer and Reich Chancellor.” If it had ever been possible for anybody, any foreign power, to stop the Hitler juggernaut, now it was too late. The next ten years or so were going to be a very difficult time for the entire world. 

Ambassador Dodd proved to be more right about the threat that Germany posed to the world than a lot of people, during his lifetime, were willing to give him credit for. He and his family were in the unique position of viewing the rise of Nazism as outsiders. After Ambassador Dodd’s death, he was mostly vindicated as the lone voice who saw what was really happening in Germany, while most Americans were still hoping to remain uninvolved.   

In the Garden of Beasts is “nonfiction narrative” written by Erik Larson. It’s a chronical of true events, written in such a way that it seems to be a novel, a fictional story, but it’s all true and it really happened. If a fiction writer had written the story of Hitler, it would have been too fantastic and far-fetched to be plausible. What story of the twentieth century is more compelling and at the same time more frightening than the story of the small, mustachioed man who aspired to conquer the entire world and would stop at nothing to achieve his goals?

Copyright © 2017 by Allen Kopp

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania ~ A Capsule Book Review

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Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania ~ A Capsule Book Review by Allen Kopp

The year is 1915. England and Germany are fighting a war that gets uglier and more vicious every day. America, with Woodrow Wilson as president, is trying to remain neutral, but how long that neutrality can last is questionable. Germany is trolling the waters of the North Atlantic with the Unterseeboot or “U-boats,” submarines that, under the right conditions, can deal a death blow to large ocean-going vessels. As the war progresses, Germany is inclined to ignore any laws or rules of decency and fair engagement. The ruthless U-boat commanders will torpedo any boat, especially those belonging to the English, but also any “neutral” boats. America is still neutral in 1915, at least on the surface. However, Germany attacking and sinking American ships—or ships bearing American citizens—almost guarantees U.S. involvement in the war.

The English ship, Lusitania, is sailing from New York to Liverpool, England, in May 1915. On board are many wealthy and important people, Americans and English. The Lusitania is the pinnacle of ocean-going extravagance and beauty. It’s like a floating luxury hotel. Most of the passengers are well aware that traveling through the waters of the North Atlantic is dangerous in wartime, but they believe they will be protected and guarded by the British navy. Many of them are not willing to let the threat of being torpedoed and sunk spoil their good time.

As the Lusitania gets closer to the British Isles, the chances of attack by U-boat increase. William Turner, captain of the Lusitania, gets warnings by wireless communication, but nothing too alarming. He too is lulled into believing that the Germans will not attack a British passenger ship, even one carrying a cargo munitions and materiel for England’s war effort. Germany is (wrongly) credited with having at least some respect for civilians, including many small children.

The commander and crew of U-boat U-20 have had a mostly unsuccessful patrol, meaning that they haven’t come across any “enemy” (meaning English or anybody on the side of the English) vessels to torpedo. (What’s important to U-boats is not the number of vessels they attack and destroy but the cumulative tonnage of those vessels.)

The bad luck of U-20 was about to change. On a bright afternoon in May, with near-perfect weather conditions, the commander of U-20 spies through his periscope the Lusitania, the ship that is the supreme symbol of British naval prowess. Ironically, it is only twelve miles from the coast of Ireland and in the last day of its voyage, only sixteen hours out of Liverpool.

U-20 is able to get a clear shot at the Lusitania, launching a torpedo into the hull of the gigantic ship, destroying and sinking it in a matter of eighteen minutes. There are 764 survivors; 1198 dead, including 123 Americans. Over 600 people on the ship are never found. America doesn’t enter the war for two more years, until German instituted a policy of all-out submarine warfare against any ship, no matter who it belonged to.

After the sinking of the Lusitania, a controversy arose (today called a “conspiracy theory”), as they so often do. The Admiralty (the arm of the British government that overseas shipping) failed to provide—when it might easily have done so—an escort of battleships for the Lusitania as it entered the “danger zone” of the North Atlantic, where U-boats were known to be operating. Many people believed—and still believe—that certain parties in the British government wanted the Lusitania to be attacked so that America would be sure to enter the war and come to Britain’s aid.

Dead Wake is a fascinating slice of twentieth century history, written, by Erik Larson, in a style known as “narrative nonfiction,” a genre originated (or at least advanced) by Truman Capote with In Cold Blood. It’s a story about the stakes that are involved in war, in this case the lives of innocent victims who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The sinking of the Lusitania showed the war then being fought between Britain and Germany was to be a different kind of war, one in which nobody was to be spared.

Copyright © 2017 by Allen Kopp

An American Tragedy ~ A Capsule Book Review

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An American Tragedy ~ A Capsule Book Review by Allen Kopp

The great American novel of the twentieth century—or at least one of them—is Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy. First published in 1925, it is a very ambitious novel of monumental length (856 pages, originally in two volumes). It’s about one man’s misguided quest for the American dream. The title tells us it’s not an uplifting or a happy story.

It’s the 1920s or thereabouts, but the time doesn’t matter because it could be any time. Young Clyde Griffiths has a disadvantaged childhood. His parents are un-ordained “ministers” of the gospel. They travel around from city to city, saving souls and ministering to the needy by setting up “missions.” Clyde has two sisters and one brother. The family is poor and never has enough money to provide properly for Clyde and his brother and sisters. They don’t even go to school because the family moves around so much.

When Clyde is about sixteen or seventeen, he gets a job as a bellboy in a ritzy Kansas City hotel. With this job, Clyde is able to witness the world of wealth and glamor that he has never seen before. He makes more money through tips than he ever imagined possible. His friends, other bellboys, introduce him to the world of booze and loose women. Clyde realizes what a sheltered life he has been leading. His glimpse into this new world makes him know, for the first time, the kind of life he desires for himself.

A traffic accident killing a young girl in Kansas City causes Clyde to run away. He drifts from place to place alone for a couple of years, until he lands a job as bellboy in a Chicago hotel. There he meets his rich uncle, a manufacturer from Lycurgus, New York. The uncle agrees to give Clyde a tryout in his collar and shirt factory. Clyde arrives in Lycurgus and goes to work for his uncle in a menial job at first and feels neglected by his uncle’s family because they fail to “take him up” socially.

Eventually Clyde is given a better job in the factory and finds himself head of a department that employs young girls. He meets there one Roberta Alden, a poor farm girl who has taken a job in the city to help her family. Roberta is pretty and pleasing in her way and soon she and Clyde begin spending time together, keeping it a secret because of a factory rule that forbids any kind of socializing between employees and department heads.

After a few months of “dating,” Clyde induces Roberta to become “intimate” with him, which she agrees to do because she loves him and believes he loves her and will eventually marry her. Being innocent and not knowing the ways of the world, Roberta soon becomes pregnant.

While Clyde has been secretly dating Roberta, he has also been moving up in Lycurgus society, having been “taken up” by a sympathetic female cousin named Bella Griffiths. Through his good looks and gentlemanly manner, he soon becomes popular with the smart, young, society set and specifically with a girl named Sondra Finchley, beautiful, rich and accomplished. When she and Clyde fall in love, he can’t believe his good fortune. He is on the verge of having everything he ever dreamed of: wealth, comfort, ease, and a beautiful wife. He has a terrible problem, though: a pregnant girlfriend for whom he no longer cares. This situation can ruin everything he’s hoped for and aspired to. If Roberta “exposes” him to his rich relatives and his society friends, it will bring his world crashing down.

Short of marring Roberta, which Clyde doesn’t want to do, he tries to get her to abort the fetus, which she believes is morally wrong but which she is willing to do to get herself out of trouble. She can’t find a doctor willing to perform the operation and a medicine that Clyde gets from a druggist that is supposed to cause the fetus to abort on its own doesn’t work. She then demands that Clyde marry her to salvage her reputation and to give the baby a name.

With Clyde’s world being threatened in this way, he resorts to desperate measures to try to extricate himself. He hears about an accident on a lake whereby two people in a rowboat are drowned when the boat overturns. The body of the woman is found; the man is never found. Clyde believes that if he can get Roberta out on a deserted lake in a rowboat, he can cause the boat to overturn, drowning her. Clyde himself will get away, but people will believe that he also drowned, even if his body is never recovered.

Out on the lake with Roberta in the rowboat, Clyde has a “change of heart” (or so the defense wants the jury to believe). He can’t kill her; he feels sorry for her and begins to rediscover some of the old feeling that he had for her in the beginning. He decides he will go through with marrying her, thereby giving up his dreams of Sondra Finchley and her world of wealth and glamor.

Something happens in the rowboat, though. In an agitated state, Roberta stands up in the boat and attempts to move toward Clyde. He also stands and attempts to catch her. The boat capsizes and Clyde and Roberta both go into the water. Roberta drowns. Without attempting to rescue Roberta, Clyde swims to shore and walks all night to get to his society friends, encamped at a resort nearby.

Clyde isn’t fooling anybody, though. There are abundant witnesses to testify to his activities on the fateful day that he and Roberta go rowing, although no actual witnesses to Roberta’s drowning come forward. Clyde is arrested within a few days while he is cavorting with his society friends (not, however, with a clear conscience), and there begins a lengthy section of the novel that details his incarceration and trial for murder. He has two slick defense lawyers to try to get him off, but are the men of the jury really going to believe that Clyde, with all the damning evidence against him, didn’t mean to kill Roberta at all?

An American Tragedy is a minutely detailed story of a murder, the circumstances of a man’s life that led to murder, how it formed in his mind, the desperation that he felt before and after, how it was executed, what followed, etc. We see the murderer (if that’s what he is) from his own point of view. We gather from this story that just about anybody might commit murder if circumstances warrant it. Clyde is not a foul, dark-hearted killer as he is portrayed during his trial. He is confused, conflicted, and, as his defense paints him, a “moral and mental” coward. Not a bad person but pushed to do a bad deed.

Copyright © 2017 by Allen Kopp

A Handful of Dust ~ A Capsule Book Review

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A Handful of Dust ~ A Capsule Book Review by Allen Kopp

English writer Evelyn Waugh lived from 1903 to 1966. His novel, A Handful of Dust, was published in 1934. The story is set in the late 1920s or early 1930s. Tony Last and his wife Brenda belong to the upper crust of English society. They have a country estate called Hetton, Tony’s ancestral home. Tony loves Hetton and is content to be there and no other place. Brenda isn’t happy with country life and loves to pop up to London on the train to shop and eat in smart restaurants and go around to the best nightclubs. In short, she is a social butterfly, while Tony is the more sedate, stay-at-home type. We see right away that they are mismatched. They have one child, an eight-year-old son named John Andrew.

Enter John Beaver. Tony and Brenda invite him down to their home for the weekend because that’s what these people do. He’s a rather dull, uninspiring young man, but Tony and Brenda treat him decently; the weekend ends and he goes home. We don’t know until later that he and Brenda have begun an unlikely love affair.

Brenda begins spending more and more time in London. She claims the need for a small “flat” so she can stay nights and not have to go back home to Hetton on the late-night train. She tells Tony she is studying economics but the truth is she’s carrying on with Beaver. Everybody knows it except Tony.

Finally things come to a head when a terrible riding accident claims the life of Tony and Brenda’s young son, John Andrew. Brenda is, of course, in London when it happens. After the dust settles, Brenda tells Tony that she is in love with Beaver, she’s through pretending, and she wants a divorce so she can marry Beaver.

Tony is perfectly willing to give up Brenda. He doesn’t have a lot of money, but he agrees to give her what he considers a fair amount in the divorce settlement. To Brenda, though—and especially to Beaver—it isn’t enough. Beaver will not marry Brenda, he says, until she is amply provided for. The amount Brenda and Beaver are asking for is ruinous to Tony. He refuses to grant them the amount they want and he tells Brenda he will not give her a divorce.

To try to escape his painful memories, Tony agrees to go on an ill-fated “expedition” to South America with a crackpot “explorer,” Dr. Messinger. The purpose of the expedition is not quite clear, except that Tony hopes to find a lost city. As might be expected, the expedition doesn’t go as planned and things turn very bad for Tony. Meanwhile, back in England, Beaver has abandoned Brenda and she is struggling to get by on the little bit of money she has. Tony is in South America, of course, and she can’t get in touch with him to ask for more.

A Handful of Dust is a satire on marriage and societal mores. We see how easily these people fall into infidelity and even encourage infidelity in one who isn’t predisposed to it. Brenda is a selfish bitch who cares more about her lover than she does about her son and husband. The ironic part is that her lover doesn’t care that much for her. She throws it all away for nothing and, through her selfishness and grasping for money, brings her world crashing down. If Tony had never married her, he could have had a happy life.

Copyright © 2017 by Allen Kopp

Tobacco Road ~ A Capsule Book Review

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1932 First Edition Cover

Tobacco Road ~ A Capsule Book Review by Allen Kopp

Erskine Caldwell’s venerable American classic, Tobacco Road, was first published in 1932. It’s the story of a few days in the life of Jeeter Lester, a lazy, ignorant, starving, dirt-poor Georgia farmer. It’s spring and Jeeter wants nothing more than to plant a crop of cotton, but he doesn’t have any seed-cotton or guano (fertilizer), no money to buy it with, and no mule for plowing.

Jeeter and his wife Ada had seventeen children, but only two still remain at home: Dude, a witless lout of sixteen, and Ellie May, a girl who doesn’t have a chance in life because she has a harelip and Jeeter doesn’t have enough money or enough initiative to take her to the doctor and get the lip “sewn up.” Jeeter’s wife, Ada, has pellagra, a vitamin deficiency disease; her fondest wish is to have a “stylish dress of the right length” to be buried in. Jeeter’s old mother lives with the family, but she never says anything; if she speaks or tries to steal food, Jeeter or Ada will clop her on the head.

Jeeter and Ada have married off their twelve-year-old daughter, Pearl, to Lov Bensey. Lov is upset because Pearl sleeps on a “pallet on the floor” and won’t let him touch her and won’t get into bed with him. When Lov comes by the Lester home with a bag full of turnips that he walked seven miles to get (which Jeeter is trying to steal), he is crying over Pearl but is drawn to Ellie May, even with her harelip. Ellie May is also drawn to Lov because she is lonely and her prospects of getting a man are slim. You can feel the sexual tension between them.

Sister Bessie Rice is a self-styled preacher. She doesn’t have a nose, but she has two nostrils flat on her face. “No nose would ever grow on me,” she says. When people are talking to her, they find themselves “looking down her nose holes.” Besides not having a nose, she’s about forty and a widow with eight hundred dollars in insurance money from her deceased husband. When she catches sight of sixteen-year-old Dude and has a petting (and rubbing) session with him, she decides she will marry him and make him a preacher. Dude isn’t much interested in marrying Sister Bessie until she tells him of her intention to go to town and buy a brand-new automobile with her insurance money. They get married (or at least get the license) and, after Sister Bessie buys the automobile, they ride all over the place, with Dude driving and blowing the horn like crazy. The same day they buy the automobile, Dude crashes into the back of a wagon, and from there, they set about tearing up the car as if that had been there intention all along. Every time they get a new dent, they say, “It don’t bother the drivin’ of it none.”

Being dirt poor and not having anything to eat is tragic, isn’t it? A girl having a harelip or a woman not having a nose is also tragic. What happens to Jeeter’s mother at the end of the book is tragic, but also funny. We don’t take the Lesters seriously enough to feel sorry for them because they are so hapless and ignorant. There’s humor in pathos, and no American novel does it better than Tobacco Road.

Copyright © 2016 by Allen Kopp

The Underground Railroad ~ A Capsule Book Review

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The Underground Railroad ~ A Capsule Book Review by Allen Kopp

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead is this year’s winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and, finally, the winner is once again about American life. It’s set in pre-Civil War America, when Southern plantation owners were allowed by law to own slaves as property, while sympathizers in the North and elsewhere viewed slavery as an abomination and were willing to do all they could to aid black slaves in their quest for freedom. In these dangerous times, the “underground railroad” sprang up, a series of rails, sometimes crude, constructed under the ground, to give slaves a means of escape from their sometimes-cruel owners. The people who built and maintained the underground railroad, the “station masters,” were often white men. They risked their lives every minute they aided slaves in escaping.

The main character of The Underground Railroad is a young slave girl named Cora. At the beginning of the book, she lives on the Randall plantation in Georgia, where vicious cruelty toward the slaves is the order of the day. Running away, is, of course, a terrible offense in the eyes of the plantation owners. Slaves who run away are caught and when they are brought back they are tortured and killed as an example to the other slaves.

A young man named Caesar gives Cora the idea of running away. At first she doesn’t want to risk it or even think about it, but when she gets a terrible beating for coming to the aid of a small boy, she decides she must run or die. Her mother before her, Mabel, ran away when Cora was only about ten and they never heard from her again. Everybody on the Randall plantation holds Mabel up as an example of what is possible. Cora has feelings of resentment toward her mother for abandoning her at such a young age. (We learn at the end of the book the ironic truth of what really happened to Mabel.)

After Cora’s harrowing escape from the Randall plantation, she is living in a black community in South Carolina under the name of Bessie Carpenter. She lives in a dormitory with lots of other runaway slaves, but there are no beatings and the living conditions are much better than on the plantation. A “slave catcher” by the name of Ridgeway is after her, though, especially determined to catch her and return her to the plantation because it is believed that her mother, Mabel, got away from him; he can’t let Cora humiliate him in the same way. In trying to escape from Ridgeway, Cora spends months in a stifling attic space in the home of a sympathizer.

After years of running and living in fear that she will finally be caught, Cora ends up on the Valentine farm in Indiana, home to a hundred or so runaways. She has books to read and sympathetic friends here, and life and is not so cruel and hard. Everybody who lives on the farm knows, though, that they live a fragile existence and that hostile forces are aligned against them. The slave catcher Ridgeway, though temporarily sidelined, is not about to give up the search for Cora as long as he is alive. The two of them will have a final fateful encounter before the story ends.

There have been lots of books and movies about slavery days and about how slaves were beaten and generally mistreated and sold at the whim of their owners. The Underground Railroad is a familiar story, but it’s a story that never ceases to be interesting in the same way that stories of World War II are interesting and compelling. No matter how terrible Cora’s life is as a slave and then as a runaway, she never loses hope that she can have a better life and live free. It’s a story, then, about hope and never giving up.

Copyright © 2017 by Allen Kopp