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Freeman [Kindle Edition]

Leonard Pitts Jr.
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (354 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Freeman, the new novel by Leonard Pitts, Jr., takes place in the first few months following the Confederate surrender and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Upon learning of Lee's surrender, Sam--a runaway slave who once worked for the Union Army--decides to leave his safe haven in Philadelphia and set out on foot to return to the war-torn South. What compels him on this almost-suicidal course is the desire to find his wife, the mother of his only child, whom he and their son left behind 15 years earlier on the Mississippi farm to which they all "belonged."

At the same time, Sam's wife, Tilda, is being forced to walk at gunpoint with her owner and two of his other slaves from the charred remains of his Mississippi farm into Arkansas, in search of an undefined place that would still respect his entitlements as slaveowner and Confederate officer.

The book's third main character, Prudence, is a fearless, headstrong white woman of means who leaves her Boston home for Buford, Mississippi, to start a school for the former bondsmen, and thus honor her father’s dying wish.

At bottom, Freeman is a love story--sweeping, generous, brutal, compassionate, patient--about the feelings people were determined to honor, despite the enormous constraints of the times. It is this aspect of the book that should ensure it a strong, vocal, core audience of African-American women, who will help propel its likely critical acclaim to a wider audience. At the same time, this book addresses several themes that are still hotly debated today, some 145 years after the official end of the Civil War. Like Cold Mountain, Freeman illuminates the times and places it describes from a fresh perspective, with stunning results. It has the potential to become a classic addition to the literature dealing with this period. Few other novels so powerfully capture the pathos and possibility of the era particularly as it reflects the ordeal of the black slaves grappling with the promise--and the terror--of their new status as free men and women.

Editorial Reviews



"Columnist Leonard Pitts turns out a pretty powerful love story." —Audie Cornish, All Things Considered

"A uniquely American epic...Freeman is an important addition to the literature of slavery and the Civil War, by a knowledgeable, compassionate and relentlessly truthful writer determined to explore both enslavement in all its malignancy and also what it truly means to be free." —Howard Frank Mosher, Washington Post

"Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist [Leonard] Pitts once again demonstrates his gift for historical fiction.... In lyrical prose, Pitts unflinchingly and movingly portrays the period's cruelties, and triumphs in capturing the spirit of the times through eminently identifiable lead characters." —Publishers Weekly starred review

"Leonard Pitts has a passion for history and a gift for storytelling. Both shine in this story of love and redemption, which challenges everything we thought we knew about how our nation dealt with its most stubborn stain." —Gwen Ifill, PBS, author of The Breakthrough

"Freeman is a myth of what’s humanly possible, a needed story about little-known heroism, and a shadow thrown forward to the struggles of American families in the 21st century." —John Timpane, Philadelphia Inquirer

"A wonderful, moving, riveting novel." —Gabrielle Union, actress

"Post-Civil War America is fertile ground for novelists, but few have tilled it with such grace and majesty as Leonard Pitts. In Freeman, Pitts weaves a beguiling, cinematic love story against a rich tapestry of American history, evoking unforgettable characters in a narrative that could easily replace a shelf of textbooks. What a splendid read!" —Herb Boyd, co-editor of By Any Means Necessary—Malcolm X: Real, not Reinvented

"Leonard Pitts, Jr., who won a Pulitzer Prize for his searing Miami Herald columns, may well pick up that award again for Freeman...[Pitts] richly illuminates the interior lives of free and enslaved Black folks. He also delivers a sweeping romance that reaffirms the power of love even against the most horrific circumstances." —Patrik Henry Bass, Essence magazine

"Rich in period details from the mundane to the most atrocious, the captivating story Pitts weaves is simplistic in its resonance but complex in its emotions. The characters and their growth, their fierce and stirring highs and lows, their battles with their own prejudices, make this novel unforgettable." —Amy Canfield, Miami Herald

"The characters are multi-dimensional and the historical detail is astonishingly accurate. Freeman is an engrossing, moving read and an original portrayal of a pivotal time in our nation's history." —IndieBound's Indie Next List for June, Terri Weiner, Village Books, Bellingham, Washington

"Leonard Pitts, Jr. crafts a novel as well as the great storytellers of our time. Freeman captured my attention from the very first sentence and my heart throughout. Sam and Tilda will stay with me for a very long time. I can't let them go." —Sybil Wilkes, The Tom Joyner Morning Show

"Author Leonard Pitts, Jr. serves up a novel that's both ugly and beautiful, with characters that you'll feel honored to of the finest Civil War novels I've ever read. If you promised yourself one decent book this summer, then look no further because this is it. Read three pages of Freeman and you'll know that this isn't a story you'll soon forget." —Terri Schlichenmeyer, The Bookworm Sez

"Seamlessly, [Pitts] weaves together the fates of people in a way that is both incredible yet exactly how it should be...this book is an eye-opening commentary on devotion during this tangled chapter of American history." —Wendi Thomas, Memphis Commercial Appeal

"I fell in love with Leonard Pitts Jr.'s fiction with Before I Forget. Now he's out with a new one, Freeman....It's a beautiful book, and I highly recommend it." —Carleen Brice, White Readers Meet Black Authors blog

"An epic tale of love and war, this novel resonates with humanity’s depth of longing and hope in the most atrocious circumstances....Astounding for its portrayal of the vulnerability inherent in lost innocence and tragedy, Freeman is a beautiful story of redemption, compassion and love....I highly recommend this book. It will leave you craving more. It is simply astonishing." —BookPeople's Blog, Austin, Texas

"This gripping and difficult novel remains a story of imperfect triumph for those former slaves and for the handful of whites who try to help them...[Pitts] keeps the reader hooked through outrage after outrage." —Arlene McKanic, BookPage

"Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Leonard Pitts, Jr. is a compelling storyteller and in Freeman he explores the meaning of freedom; he expresses a tone of sympathy for his characters troubles in this gripping tale about sacrifice and determination." —Clarence Reynolds, The Network Journal

"It's the kind of book that you have to read, like stories of the Holocaust. Freeman reminds us of our humanity." —Nancy Olson, owner of Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, North Carolina

"Eye-opening...[Freeman] should give us insight into the capacity for love between men, women and children, separated by the institution of slavery." —Charles E. Richardson, Macon Telegraph (Georgia)


"Leonard Pitts, Jr. is the most insightful and inspiring columnist of his generation." —Tavis Smiley

"He refuses to be predictable or to rest on his considerable laurels. He is funny when you think there's not a smidgen of humor to be found, enraged at the very moment we thought we no longer cared, and he shakes us up just when we're so certain we have it all figured out. In other words, he makes us better for having read him. What a gift. In sparse, often electric prose, Pitts challenges us to be bigger than we thought possible, and then shows us how to get there." —Connie Schultz, Cleveland Plain-Dealer

"As a long-time reader and admirer, I find there is only one thing to question about Leonard Pitts being awarded the Pulitzer Prize: What took them so long?" —Bob Costas

About the Author

Leonard Pitts, Jr. was born and raised in Southern California and now lives in suburban Washington, DC, with his wife and children. He is a columnist for the Miami Herald and won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, in addition to many other awards. He is also the author of the novel Before I Forget (Agate Bolden, 2009); the collection Forward From this Moment: Selected Columns, 1994-2009, Daily Triumphs, Tragedies, and Curiosities (Agate Bolden, 2009); and Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood (Agate Bolden, 2006).

Product Details

  • File Size: 717 KB
  • Print Length: 415 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1932841644
  • Publisher: Agate Bolden (May 8, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008164K6A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,607 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Painfully riveting May 24, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Freeman by Leonard Pitts is totally engrossing from beginning to end. It is an historical fiction book, set in the post Civil War era and deals with the power of love, the fulfillment of promises, and the obsessive need for forgiveness. It weaves the individual stories of Sam, Tilda, and Prudence into a majestic historical tale.

Sam, a former runaway slave, is compelled to return to the war-torn South in search of Tilda, the wife he left behind 15 years earlier in his quest for freedom. His search for Tilda is not only to recapture the love of his life, but to also obtain her forgiveness.

Meantime, Tilda is being forced by her former slave master, at gunpoint, to walk in search of a place where former slave owners are still fighting to maintain their previous way of life--the life to which they fiercely believe they are entitled to keep at all costs. Without hope of rescue, Tilda resigns herself to her place in life.

Prudence, a wealthy white Northern widow, sets out, against the advice of her Negro friend Bonnie, to establish a school for former slaves, thereby fulfilling her promise to her dying father.

These three people move through the dangerous times, facing innumerable obstacles and brutalities, yet not fully comprehending the realities and implications of the South's defeat upon its citizens.

Leonard Pitts' second novel is a beautifully written and unforgettable narrative, that is certain to propel him into superstardom with the likes of Toni Morrison, J. California Cooper, and Zora Neal Hurston.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars painfully touching May 5, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
finished reading Freeman, and there are times I had to literally put this book down, it's hard especially being african american to read about our people being treated in such inhumane way, this story is so touching, sad, and I'm so hoping for happy ending, I must say this by far my favorite! book from Mr Pitts, awesome....I don't want to tell the story, for readers who love great well written book u better grab it! love, determination, unity and beliving conquers all
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally Powerful & Wrenching June 24, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a fervent reader of Leonard Pitts' columns, I was intrigued regarding his newly published novel Freeman and downloaded it. Set in the immediate post-Civil War era in the South, it portrays the lives of Black and White characters in that era. I won't repeat the gist of the novel as this is described elsewhere. I place Freeman in the top three of the roughly 2,500 books I have read over the past ten years. The characters -- both Black and White -- are complex and each reveals determination to achieve mission as well as insecurities, weaknesses, and guilt. You'll find it hard to stop reading. I was so galvanized that what would probably be a 3 - 4 day read (with another book or two in the mix) turned out to be a one-day read. As my title indicates, the novel is wrenching emotionally throughout the entire book. Frankly, you do not laugh or smile except at rare intervals. Be prepared to tear up frequently. And, sad to say, behavior and prejudice depicted by Mr. Pitts in 1865 remain with us in 2012 disguised, perhaps, with a bit more "political correctness". Freeman is an outstanding book, easily earning five stars.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars COULD NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN- EXCELLENT!!. June 10, 2012
By Annie
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have been a huge fan of Leonard Pitts for years but this is the first time I have read a novel written by him. I immediately became interested in the characters and it brought me to tears and made me laugh a few times too! I will save this as one of the novels that I will re-read in ten years. Excellent!!!
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Imagining the Unimaginable September 25, 2012
By law
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If ever there was a period in American history that individuals from nearly every walk of life faced a new reality that they had probably never imagined would occur in their life time, reconstruction was it. This book presented the obvious societal shifts very thoughtfully; however, the author seemed to hesitate a bit when faced with addressing the subtle aspects of some of those new realities. Though it was a good read, I wish the author would have dared to explore more of those subtleties than the readily imaginable.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Would have given it six stars if I could... June 21, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Like any good book there were parts I loved and some I hated. Overall I found Freeman to be very interesting and rewarding. The book was not predictable and had a few surprises. I loved the fact that the book made me think what would I have done if put in this situation. How slave owners and slaves would react the day after the Civil War ended. Slave owners since of loss and desire to hold on to the past. How after being born into slavery what a slave do differently to distinguish themselves as free man.

I remember sitting in Black History class in college and the professor talking about carpetbaggers going to the south during the war. Prudence trip down south put a spin on that story because she went after the war for no personal gain. I think she would have had more problems trying to setup a school for the freed slaves in a small southern town then was mentioned in the book. I could have seen the towns people running her out of town the first day she arrived.

The anticipation of wondering if Sam would ever find Tilda and if she would accept him if he did find her keep me glued to the book. This was a wonderful love story hidden in a historical fiction. After realizing it was a love story I started to connect more with the characters and cheered Sam on for his quest to find Tilda. I like that the book showed how the actions of one person could unintentionally effect others.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Hart wrenching novel
At first I gave it 4 stars instead of five because it was a slow read for me. I had to change my rating because I realized that it was too moving to be penalized I needed to set it... Read more
Published 26 days ago by penny's from heaven
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wonderful book. Night recommend.
Published 27 days ago by mam
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Historical Fiction
I loved the book. I had trouble putting it down. I just wanted to know what was going to happen next. I also feel there was a lot of truth about that time in history.
Published 28 days ago by zipppe
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my new favorites...
Wow… I am absolutely overwhelmed with emotion, having just finished this masterpiece by Leonard Pitts Jr.. Read more
Published 1 month ago by ME
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A bit dark but very compelling - did not want to put it down
Published 1 month ago by Gail Shoemake
5.0 out of 5 stars powerful doesn't cover it...
This should be a movie. I was horrified and outraged and saddened, and yet also uplifted and found hope and love and perseverance in such a dark period of our country's history. Read more
Published 1 month ago by J.B.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Not-To-Be-Missed Book
Absolutly great book--a must read. The characters are wonderful-- the post Civil War Southern States setting is brought to life by this terrific author!
Published 1 month ago by Margaret J Carpenter
5.0 out of 5 stars Pitts freeman
I have never written a review. I am an avid reader, also a white Yankee living in the south . I found this book to be engaging, thought-provoking and just plain good.
Published 1 month ago by Kenneth Maynard
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book
I love this book. "Freeman" is a fiction novel, but it certainly tells the truth. It was so "heavy" at times that I'd look up from reading and think, "There's... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Angela
4.0 out of 5 stars Deeply moving and intimate rendering of lives of freed slaves
Well written and thoughtful exploration of the post slavery period and the struggle to define what freedom meant. Very highly recommended.
Published 1 month ago by Kayc
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