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Colson Whitehead: “The Underground Railroad”

By The Aspen Institute

Nearly two decades ago, author Colson Whitehead began thinking about writing about the Underground Railroad. “I remembered when I was a kid, I first heard those words…I thought it was a literal train beneath the earth,” he says. He put pen to paper and the result was the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Underground Railroad. In it, the historic secret network of safehouses for runaway slaves becomes a make-believe set of tracks and tunnels beneath southern cities and towns. The book tells the story of Cora, a runaway slave who makes various stops along the railroad in her search for freedom. Whitehead recreates the terror black people in the pre-Civil War era faced. It’s an essential read to understand America’s past and present, according to The New York Times. In this episode, he talks about the novel and about the process of writing. Show Notes Listen to the Aspen Ideas to Go episode Pushing the Limits, featuring climber and author Tommy Caldwell. Follow Aspen Ideas to Go on Twitter and Facebook. Email your comments to aspenideastogo@gmail.com. The views and opinions of the speakers in the podcast do not necessarily reflect those of the Aspen Institute.

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