Underground Airlines

By Ben Winters

Narrated by William DeMeritt
9 hours 28 minutes

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.

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, Bestselling author

A top-flight thriller that's as emotionally searing and tragically plausible as anything in contemporary fiction.

Lev Grossman, Author of The Magicians

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, Author

About the Author

Ben H. Winters is the author of Underground Airlines and The Last Policeman trilogy, for which he received the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America, the Philip K. Dick Award for Distinguished Science Fiction, a Macavity Award nomination and an Anthony Award Nomination, along with placement in numerous "Best Of" lists, including on Amazon, Slate, and NPR. The trilogy has been published in 14 languages so far. Ben's other books include Bedbugs, Android Karenina, the New York Times bestseller Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Ben is also the author of many plays and musicals for children and adults, as well as Literally Disturbed: Tales to Keep You Up at Night, a book of scary poems for kids. He he has written for national and local publications including the Chicago Tribune, Slate, and the Huffington Post.

He grew up in Maryland, attended Washington University in St. Louis, and currently lives in Indianapolis with his wife, where he teaches at Butler University.

Reviews

Ben Winters' Underground Airlines is an ingenious speculative thriller wrapped around the core of our nation's ouroboros history of institutional racism. While that may sound bizarre to some, Winters pulls it off with ease, crafting a novel that is both fantastic and scarily believable at the same time.

Ian Kern, Mysterious Bookshop

Am I allowed to curse? Because holy heck, I want to. This book is shocking, bold, sad, human and wise. Put an expletive in front of each of those adjectives. It's not post-apocalyptic fiction, but if you like that sort of thing, you'll like this too. If you liked Station Eleven (an overused but appropriate comp!), World War Z, or Brief History of the Dead, then this is a book you should read.

Rebecca Fitting, Greenlight Books

Author

Narrator
William DeMeritt

ISBN
9781478909187

Length
9 hours 28 minutes

Language
English

Publisher
Hachette Audio

Publication Date

Abridged
No

  • I could feel my thin, cheap spectacles slipping down my nose. I could feel my needfulness dripping from my brow.
  • Here we were, breaking bread together, the gentle young priest and I. If there’s one thing they understand, these church folks, it’s wailing and lamentation.
  • What the slave wants but can never have is not only freedom from the chains but also from their memory.

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