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Place Called Freedom Paperback – January 1, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 671 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

With action that spans two countries on opposite sides of the Atlantic, making a credible audio version of this epic tale is no small feat. Victor Garber, the talented actor of stage and screen (Sleepless in Seattle, I'll Fly Away, The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd), does an admirable job. Garber presents the narrative passages in a clear, confident tone and uses his extensive acting experience to create believable voices for the many diverse characters. Follett has thrown in a confusing array of regional accents and disguised characters, but the range of Garber's voice helps keep things straight while heightening the considerable action and communicating the powerful emotions expressed by the very large cast that gives this drama its grand sweep.

This intriguing novel hinges on the courageous struggles of the hero, an indentured coal miner who declares, "I'll go anywhere that is not Scotland--anywhere a man can be free." Getting anywhere else is easier said than done, especially when he's caught up in an entanglement of familial responsibility, forbidden love, official deceit, trickery, and violence. Even though there are plenty of breathless moments when proper ladies are tempted by bare-chested hunks, this is much more than just another adventure-filled love story. It's also an intriguing journey into the social and political realities of the late 18th century, when the rising influence of the American colonies was first taking hold and the shining glory of the British Empire had begun its long, slow fade. (Running time: four hours, four cassettes) --George Laney --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

The key to Follett's absorbing new historical novel (after A Dangerous Fortune) lies in words that "made a slave of every Scottish miner's son" in the 1700s: "I pledge this child to work in [the laird's] mines, boy and man, for as long as he is able, or until he die." When young Malachi (Mack) McAsh challenges this practice, citing its illegality, he begins a pattern of rebelling against authority while pursuing justice. Mack's dangerous quest for freedom makes him a fugitive in High Glen, where he is brutally punished by Sir George Jamisson in retaliation for his intention to quit the mines. After escaping to London, Mack confronts injustice again when he tries to break the monopoly of "undertakers," who furnish crews to unload coal from ships; arrested and tried, he is transported to Virginia as an indentured servant. All this time, his fate is intertwined with that of Lizzie Hallim, daughter of the impoverished laird of High Glen, who is as spirited, independent-minded and daring as is Mack himself. (Readers may not quite believe her sexual aggressiveness, but Follett knows how to strike chords with feminists.) But Lizzie is gentry, so she must marry Jay, the younger Jamisson son. Follett adroitly escalates the suspense by mixing intrigue and danger, tinged with ironic complications. He also provides authoritative background detail, including specifics about the brutal working conditions of mine workers and coal heavers and the routine of an American tobacco plantation. History is served by references to real-life English liberal John Wilkes, who challenged the established view that the virtual enslavement of "common" men by aristocrats was God's will, and events in Virginia as the Colonies move toward rebellion. If the dialogue sometimes seems lifted from a bodice-ripper, and if far-fetched coincidences keep flinging Lizzie and Mack together, these flaws are redeemed by Follett's vigorous narrative drive and keen eye for character. BOMC and QPB main selections; Reader's Digest Condensed Book selection; simultaneous Random House audio and large-print editions; author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Publishing; Reprints edition (January 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330544438
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330544436
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (671 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Beverley Strong on March 9, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
What a very fine writer Ken Follett is! Having read "The eye of the needle" many years ago, and more recently, "Pillars of the earth" and enjoyed them both very much,I just finished reading "A place called freedom".It took only 2 days as I couldn't put it down and for 2 nights, read into the small hours.An indentured Scottish coal miner, Mack McAsh, tries to force the hand of the mine owner into treating the down trodden miners with compassion and fairness. He is railroaded by the system and tranported as a convict to Virginia. This is a tale of a mans inhuman treatment and his fight fot freedom in the New World.It's a great read,well written,exciting and unputdownable.It could well have been made into an actioner movie
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Format: Hardcover
This book was a change of pace for Ken Follett who has carried out some outstanding research into conditions in late 18th century Scotland, England, and the American colonies. The main character, who's ambition is the freedom to go his own way, comes up against the class structure of the times and the limited rights of the working man. This develops into a superb tale as the hero encounters first the conditions of servitude and slavery in Scotland, then the conditions of repression in England, and finally the conditions of bondage in Virginia. While it is historical fiction, the book is especially recommended for readers delving into conditions that brought people to the American colonies. Readers should be forewarned that the book has significant sexual content and some violence that would give it at best a PG-13 rating.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am a bit disappointed in the author after reading this book. I think he was trying to build on the success that he had with Pillars of the Earth but this book falls far short of that classic. This book is more like a [$] mass-market teen-age Romance novel. There is nothing new hear except maybe the name, the plot is so predictable it is sad coming from such a good author. I knew how this book was going to end before it even started. He has written much better books, I would stay away from this book unless you are looking for a long love story.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'll tell you upfront that this is one of my favorite books. You can tell from the reviews that A Place Called Freedom results in either love or hate, so let me tell you why I love it.

First, the story is like something from a Thomas Hardy or Charles Dickens novel. Some reviewers have called it formulaic, corny, or contrived. Sure, like a "Tess of the D'urbervilles" or "A Tale of Two Cities" it jerks the characters through quite a life of suffering and disappointments, but you will care about these characters and cheer them on in their epic journey to find freedom and each other. There is a romantic element to the story, for sure, but it's not Harlequin in nature and it's not as sappy as much of the historical fiction out there.

Second, the writing is easy and enjoyable to read, even though it uses dialect for the Scottish characters. Unlike Hardy and Dickens, Follett is neither laborious in his detail nor overly wordy. This book is a quick read and full of memorable imagery.

Third, and I'm sure somebody will ding me for saying this, you really get a feeling for the American experience-for why people came to this country, for how unprepared they were for the reality of being here back when people were trying to impose the old-world class system on an untamed country full of possibilities, for how determination, hard work, and devotion were the true mark of class.

A Place Called Freedom is more period like A Dangerous Fortune, although not quite as dark as that book. If your first Ken Follett books were about the war and espionage, then you might not like A Place Called Freedom because it is a different type of book for Follett. For those people, I'd recommend Jackdaws or The Key to Rebecca. But, if you like historical fiction, the stories of Hardy and Dickens, or the romantic feeling of adventure in Follett's Hornet Flight, you should give A Place Called Freedom a try.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the second Follett book I've read, the first being Pillars of the Earth. Actually, this is only the third review I've written out of the 60 to 70 books I've read over the past couple years but I find myself wanting to express my opinions more and more when I get done with a great read and maybe helping people get exposed to great books they otherwise wouldn't have tried or known about.
While not as wonderful as Pillars of the Earth (I still can't get that book out of my head...definetly one of the best if not THE best I've ever read), this is still a great book. The book has rapid fire pacing but doesn't sacrifice on the details and characterization that suck you into the book. And that's what the focal point of the book is, the characters. You feel their pain, their joy, every emotion that they're going through.
From Scotland, to London, to Virginia, the reader is taken on a journey of treachery, deceit, love, loss and triumph. You feel as if you can reach out and touch the characters.
Follett is fast becomming one of my favorite authors and he's edging his way to the top of the list. You won't want to stop reading this book. I could have easily read it in a day but I decided to stretch it out over a couple days and let each section I read sink in. I don't think I've encountered another author who can weave romance, violence, humor, action and great research as effectively as Ken Follett and this book does all that.
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