The Good Lord Bird: Book summary and reviews of The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

The Good Lord Bird

By James McBride

The Good Lord Bird
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2013,
    432 pages.

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Book Summary

Henry Shackleford is a young slave 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 master 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.

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Book Awards

  • award image National Book Awards, 2013

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Outrageously funny, sad…McBride puts a human face on a nation at its most divided." - Publishers Weekly

"McBride presents an interesting experiment in point of view here, as all of Brown's activities are filtered through the eyes of a young adolescent who wavers between innocence and cynicism." - Kirkus

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Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Carol
Step into History
Having just finished reading THE GOOD LORD BIRD, I am impressed with the voice James McBride uses to describe the times. It is a part of history, that I would not want to dwell on and yet I felt drawn into the story and the connection with "the good lord bird that don't run in a flock. He flies alone."
From the checking I did it seems to be historically accurate. Thank you Mr. McBride for presenting a different perspective.

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Author Information

James McBride Author Biography

James McBride is an award-winning writer and composer. His critically acclaimed memoir, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother, explores the author's struggle to understand his biracial identity and the experience of his white, Jewish mother, who moved to Harlem, married a black man, and raised 12 children. The Color of Water won the 1997 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Literary Excellence, was an ALA Notable Book of the Year, and spent more than two years on the bestseller list. Chosen by the New York Public Library as one of the 25 books of 1996 to remember, The Color of Water has sold more than 1.3 million copies in the United States alone and is now required reading at numerous colleges and high schools across the country. It has also been ...

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