Soon to be a Showtime limited series starring Ethan Hawke and Daveed Diggs
Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction
From the bestselling author of Deacon King Kong (an Oprah Book Club pick) and The Color of Water comes the story of a young boy born a slave who joins John Brown’s antislavery crusade—and who must pass as a girl to survive.
Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1856--a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces--when legendary abolitionist John Brown arrives. When an argument between Brown and Henry's master turns violent, Henry is forced to leave town--along with Brown, who believes Henry to be a girl and his good luck charm.
Over the ensuing months, Henry, whom Brown nicknames Little Onion, conceals his true identity to stay alive. Eventually Brown sweeps him into the historic raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859--one of the great catalysts for the Civil War. An absorbing mixture of history and imagination, and told with McBride's meticulous eye for detail and character, The Good Lord Bird is both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
James McBride’s historical novel puts an absorbing, unusual, and often downright hilarious spin on the story of abolitionist crusader John Brown. As pro- and antislavery factions fight a bloody war in 1850s Kansas, an enslaved boy nicknamed Little Onion ends up in Brown’s care. The Good Lord Bird is full of both Shakespearean comedy—did we mention that Little Onion spends almost the entire story passing as a girl?—and a Mark Twain–like kind of laugh-out-loud humor that’s infused with deep wisdom. McBride pulls real-life historical figures like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman into his adventure-filled plot. Like McBride, narrator Michael Boatman (who plays Julius in The Good Fight) serves up thrills and laughs without shying away from the hard, bloody facts of one of the darkest stretches in U.S. history.