The Good Lord Bird: A Novel

The-Good-Lord-Bird-A-NovelFrom the bestselling author of The Color of Water and Song Yet Sung comes the story of an enslaved young boy who joins John Brown’s antislavery crusade—and who must pass as a girl to survive.

Henry Shackleford is a young enslaved boy living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry’s enslaver quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town—with Brown, who believes he’s a girl.

Over the ensuing months, Henry—whom Brown nicknames Little Onion—conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive. Eventually Little Onion finds himself with Brown at 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.

Praise for The Good Lord Bird

“A magnificent new novel by the best-selling author James McBride…a brilliant romp of a novel…McBride—with the same flair for historical mining, musicality of voice and outsize characterization that made his memoir, The Color of Water, an instant classic—pulls off his portrait masterfully, like a modern-day Mark Twain: evoking sheer glee with every page.” —The New York Times Book Review (front cover review)

“You may know the story of John Brown’s unsuccessful raid on Harpers Ferry, but author James McBride’s retelling of the events leading up to it is so imaginative, you’ll race to the finish.”—NPR

“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.”—Essence

“A story that’s difficult to put down.”—Ebony

“Outrageously funny, sad… McBride puts a human face on a nation at its most divided.”—Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

“A sizzling historical novel that is an evocative escapade and a provocative pastiche of Larry McMurtry’s salty western satires and William Styron’s seminal insurrection masterpiece, The Confessions of Nat Turner.” —Booklist (starred review)

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