Courage Against Cruelty: Life as a Slave in the Americas

Connie Briscoe
Relates the story of three generations of slaves, from Susan and her daughter Clara, to Clara's daughter, whose father is never revealed, all of whom work on the plantation of President James Madison and his wife Dolley.
Madison Smartt Bell

The violent struggle for freedom in Haiti, typified by the opening scene in which a woman is crucified for killing her baby so he will not grow up to be a slave, and the rise of a former slave, Toussaint L'Ouverture, to self-proclaimed governor general.

Toni Morrison

It is the story--set in post-Civil War Ohio--of Sethe, an escaped slave who has risked death in order to wrench herself from a living death; who has lost a husband and buried a child; who has borne the unthinkable and not gone mad: a woman of "iron eyes and backbone to match." Sethe lives in a small house on the edge of town with her daughter, Denver, her mother-in-law, Baby Suggs, and a disturbing, mesmerizing intruder who calls herself Beloved.

James A. Michener

In this epic, the Chesapeake Bay region gets Michener's novel treatment. From Indians to religious pilgrims, from pirates to slave holders, from Quakers to desperate Irish immigrants, the people come in and make their mark on the windy marshes and tidal basins of the Chesapeake Bay.

Caryl Phillips

Several narratives of African American history, including that of a former slave repatriated to Africa in 1834, another of an elderly woman freed after the Civil War, and a third of a British slave trader.

Louise Meriwether

A group of resolute runaway slaves attempt to steal the gunboat Swanee and deliver it to the Union army and are united in their fight by love and history.

Jacqueline L. Tobin and Raymond G. Dobard

Jacqueline Tobin tells the story African American quilter Ozella Williams handed down to her, describing how slaves made coded quilts and used them to navigate their escape on the Underground Railroad.

Nancy Peacock

Peacock's acclaimed second novel centers on the centuries-old secrets that bind together two families --one white, one black--on an old Southern plantation.

Octavia E. Butler
Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South.
Calvin Baker
A multi-generational tale forms a portrait of a people's passage to a new world, following the voices, as one flows into the next, of six African Americans, beginning with Ampofo, who is brought as slave cargo to America.
Harriet E. Wilson

"A fascinating fusion of two literary models of the nineteenth century, the sentimental novel and the slave narrative, Our Nig, apart from its historical significance, is a deeply ironic and highly readable work, tracing the trials and tribulations of Frado, a mulatto girl abandoned by her white mother after the death of the child's black father, who grows up as an indentured servant to a white family in nineteenth-century Massachusetts."

Alex Haley

"The monumental bestseller! Alex Haley recaptures his family's history in this drama of eighteenth-century slave Kunta Kinte and his descendants." The family story continues with Haley's Queen.

Hannah Crafts
"An unprecedented historical and literary event, this tale written in the 1850s is the only known novel by a female African American slave, and quite possibly the first novel written by a black woman anywhere....Presented here unaltered and under its author's original title, The Bondwoman's Narrative tells of a self-educated young house slave who knows her life is limited by the brutalities of her society, but never suspects that the freedom of her plantation's beautiful new mistress is also at risk...or that a devastating secret will force them both to flee from slave hunters with another powerful, determined enemy at their heels."
William Styron
"In the late summer of 1831, in a remote section of southeastern Virginia, there took place the only effective, sustained revolt in the annals of American Negro slavery...

"The revolt was led by a remarkable Negro preacher named Nat Turner, an educated slave who felt himself divinely ordained to annihilate all the white people in the region.

"The (novel) is narrated by Nat himself as he lingers in jail through the cold autumnal days before his execution. The compelling story ranges over the whole of Nat's Life, reaching its inevitable and shattering climax that bloody day in August."

Edward P. Jones
Henry Townsend, a former slave, has a fondness for Paradise Lost and an unusual mentor -- William Robbins, perhaps the most powerful white man in antebellum virginia's Manchester County. Under Robbins's tutelage, Henry becomes proprietor of his own plantation as well as the his own slaves. Henry tragically fails to understand the fundamental flaws in his thinking that he can be a better slave master than a white man.
Fred D'Aguiar
An intelligent, fiercely independent young slave attempts to flee a Virginia plantation during the early 1800s, only to be betrayed by his own father.
Henry Burke and Dick Croy

A fictionalized account of an actual escape in 1843 of a slave and her seven children from a western Virginia tobacco plantation on the Ohio River, and their harrowing flight across Ohio to Canada on the Underground Railroad. This vivid, inspiring chronicle of a family's ordeal is also a compelling history of the Underground Railroad, in which all the major characters and events are real.

Harriet Beecher Stowe
"Uncle Tom's Cabin was a sensation upon its publication in 1852. In its first year it sold 300,000 copies, and has since been translated into more than twenty languages. This powerful story of one slave's unbreakable spirit holds an important place in American history, as it helped solidify the anti-slavery sentiments of the North, and moved a nation to civil war."
David Anthony Durham
"...the story of two very different men, each on a quest, both tied together by a history of remorse, jealousy, and a love that crosses the barriers of race during the time of slavery. William, a fugitive slave from Maryland, is driven by two powerful needs--to find his wife, Dover, who is pregnant with his child, and to live as a free man. He undertakes the treacherous journey north to restore meaning to his life, putting him at odds with the law and the sentiments of a nation. Morrison, who fled a painful youth in Scotland, had once hoped to establish a new life in America with his brother, but the unforeseen realities of immigrant life drove them apart."