Ilyon Woo’s follow-up to her 2010 book The Great Divorce, which focused on an infamous 19th century break up, is a vivid retelling of enslaved couple Ellen and William Craft’s harrowing journey from Georgia to Philadelphia in 1848 to gain back their freedom. Ellen, who was born enslaved to a white farmer, pretended to be a white man traveling up north for medical care. To fool fellow travelers, she donned a clever disguise—a silk stovepipe hat, dark green glasses, a sling for her right arm, and bandages wrapped around her face to hide her feminine features—and cast her husband, William, an enslaved cabinetmaker, as her dutiful servant. Woo describes their escape in exquisite detail and reveals their fascinating connection to the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. It’s an edge-of-your-seat drama that will leave many wondering why the duo’s remarkable story has been so overlooked by history. —Shannon Carlin
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