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Freeman
(PDF 1.37 MB)
Freeman

"Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Pitts once again demonstrates his gift for historical fiction; having examined the African-American experience of the 20th century in 2009's Before I Forget, he turns his lens to the painful aftermath of the Civil War in his newest . . . 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


"[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


"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


Freeman 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. 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. Freeman illuminates the times and places it describes from a fresh perspective, capturing 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.

 

Leonard Pitts, Jr. is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Miami Herald. He is the author of the novel Before I Forget, the memoir Becoming Dad, and Forward From This Moment: Selected Columns, 1994-2009. He lives in Maryland. Visit him on the web at www.leonardpittsjr.com.

A book reading at McIntyre's Books in Pittsboro, NC. (Jun. 1, 2012)

Leonard shares a memory of music and family with All Things Considered's Audie Cornish.
The author of Freeman wrote about his book in Shelf Awareness's Inklings feature. (May 15, 2012)
A book reading at McIntyre's Books in Pittsboro, NC. (Jun. 1, 2012)

The author of Freeman speaks with Miami's uVu at Books & Books in Coral Gables. (Jun. 11, 2012)

Leonard joins Ryan Nobles of Richmond's NBC12 to discuss Freeman, love, and the lessons we are re-learning from the Trayvon Martin case. (May 31, 2012)

The Last Call host Rob Lorei of WMNF Community Radio Tampa speaks with Leonard Pitts, Jr. on politics and his new novel, Freeman.
Leonard Pitts talks to Audie Cornish of All Things Considered about his new novel FREEMAN.
Leonard Pitts Jr. answers questions about Freeman.
Leonard Pitts, Jr. on Writing
An excerpt from Leonard Pitts, Jr.'s discussion on the craft from the 2008 National Writer's Workshop in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

FREE presskit ( pdf 256 KB )

Details

Title Freeman
Audience 01 General / trade
Title First Published 15 May 2012
 
Format Paperback
Nb of pages 432 p.
ISBN-10 1932841644
ISBN-13 9781932841640
Publication Date 08 May 2012
Main content page count 432
Dimensions 6 x 9 in.
Weight 21 oz.
List Price $16.00
 
Format ePub
Nb of pages
ISBN-10 1-57284-699-2
ISBN-13 978-1-57284-699-9
GTIN13 (EAN13) 9781572846999
Reference no. 978-1-57284-699-9
Publication Date 15 May 2012
List Price $9.99
 

Excerpt

(PDF 1.37 MB)
The first three chapters from Freeman.


Additional Materials

Leonard shares a memory of music and family with All Things Considered's Audie Cornish.
The author of Freeman wrote about his book in Shelf Awareness's Inklings feature. (May 15, 2012)
A book reading at McIntyre's Books in Pittsboro, NC. (Jun. 1, 2012)

A book reading at McIntyre's Books in Pittsboro, NC. (Jun. 1, 2012)

The author of Freeman speaks with Miami's uVu at Books & Books in Coral Gables. (Jun. 11, 2012)

Leonard joins Ryan Nobles of Richmond's NBC12 to discuss Freeman, love, and the lessons we are re-learning from the Trayvon Martin case. (May 31, 2012)

The Last Call host Rob Lorei of WMNF Community Radio Tampa speaks with Leonard Pitts, Jr. on politics and his new novel, Freeman.
Leonard Pitts Jr. answers questions about Freeman.
Leonard Pitts, Jr. on Writing
An excerpt from Leonard Pitts, Jr.'s discussion on the craft from the 2008 National Writer's Workshop in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

FREE presskit ( pdf 256 KB )

Reviews

Press Reviews

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Jul 23, 2012
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Pitts once again demonstrates his gift for historical fiction; having examined the African-American experience of the 20th century in 2009's Before I Forget, he turns his lens to the painful aftermath of the Civil War in his newest. The traumatic period is viewed from the perspectives of two very different, but equally inspirational protagonists. As soon as the end of the fighting has been announced, runaway slave Sam can only think of reuniting with his wife, Tilda, whom he has not seen in 15 years. Despite the difficulties of traveling from his current home of Philadelphia to Buford, Mississippi, and his uncertainty about how warmly she will welcome him, Sam perseveres. His encounters in the South, which jarringly assert that the end of the
...more


LitStack
Feb 14, 2103
Pitts makes some daring choices with the characters at certain points of the novel that might not agree with some readers, but I feel those choices were worth it…The heart of the novel are Pitts' characters and what makes Freeman a compelling novel.
- K. Imani Tennyson

The State Journal Register
Aug 9, 2012
"There have been many stories about post-Civil War journeys; of people trying to reconnect with loved ones divided by the war. Freeman is another excellent addition to the genre; it emphasizes once again that there are no clear answers, that nothing is simply black and white."
- Marty Morris

Chapter 16
Jun 20, 2012
Pitts writes to entertain while exploring the complex social issues of the post-war South. That time, the people, the places, and the manifold hardships emerge convincingly from this story.
- Ralph Bowden

Washington Post
Jul 7, 2012
"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

Audie Cornish, Host of NPR's All Things Considered
May 10, 2012
Columnist Leonard Pitts turns out a pretty powerful love story.

IndieBound's Indie Next List for June
Jun 3, 2012
As the Civil War ends, many broken lives await their own personal reconstruction. Pitts weaves together the stories of former slaves seeking family members from whom they were long separated, abolitionists opening a school to educate Southern blacks for a new life, and defeated, still-angry Confederate soldiers. 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
- Terri Weiner, Village Books, Bellingham, WA

BookPeople Blog, the blog of Austin's favorite bookstore
Jun 19, 2012
Infused with a myriad of historical details, a sweeping backdrop of America's ravaged and war torn South, and a brilliantly devised multiple character plot line, Freeman breaks apart what you thought you knew about post-Civil War America. 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.
- Jessica

Miami Herald
Jun 1, 2012
Leonard Pitts Jr. often tells stories in his syndicated, Pulitzer-prize winning column for The Miami Herald. Those stories are true and current, meant to be thought provoking and many times to put a human face on the issues of the day. Now Pitts brings that mastery of the story to historical fiction with Freeman — and masterful it is. With his stimulating and illuminating style, Pitts' novel, set in the early days following the Civil War, is a sweeping, human tale of idealism brutally squashed and the strength of the human spirit and its ability to change and grow.... 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....[Sam's] tenacity and courage, brought to life by Pitts, lies at the heart of this compelling story. Idealism can be lost, but the fight for the ideal can go on. And once again, Pitts puts a human face on an overwhelming issue and eloquently educates his readers.
- Amy Canfield

Salisbury Post
Sep 9, 2012
The novel "Freeman" is equal to Pitts' best writing, and is as hard-hitting as it is heartbreaking. The writing is exceptional, the characters are real and well-developed, the story not only believable but in all likelihood probably true in its own way, with countless variations. It looks at a time and a place that we know not enough about, and very likely because, at least down South, we don't want to.

The Network Journal
Jan 6, 2012
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

South Florida Times
Sep 9, 2012
Freeman moved me across the entire spectrum of my emotional makeup....Pitts is a genius in how he teases out larger concepts of what love looks like in the face of man's inhumanity to man — during one of the worst recorded wars in history and its aftermath.
- Antonia Williams-Gary

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

Bob Costas
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?

Philadelphia Inquirer
May 27, 2012
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

Sybil Wilkes, The Tom Joyner Radio Show
Leonard Pitts, Hr. 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.

Memphis Commercial-Appeal
May 27, 2012
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

White Readers Meet Black Authors
Apr 1, 2012
It's a beautiful book, and I highly recommend it.
- Carleen Brice

BookPage
May 7, 2012
"Be that as it may, 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 in this dangerous and bewildering postwar world. […] A good story written by a good writer will keep you turning the pages and staying up past your bedtime, whether you want to or not. Pitts, a Pulitzer-winning columnist and the author of Before I Forget, keeps the reader hooked through outrage after outrage."
- Arlene McKanic

Macon Telegraph (Georgia)
May 13, 2012
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

Cleveland Plain-Dealer
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 Schulz

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