Ben Winters’ Underground Airlines: An Alternative History of Slavery and Freedom
Ben Winters wrote Underground Airlines (Mullholland Books, 2016) ostensibly to bring attention to the lingering pernicious affects of slavery, but his inventive story can also be read to show far we have come from the days when slavery was legal.
In Underground Airlines, an escaped slave––whose true name we never learn––has been coerced into serving as a slave catcher for the U.S. Marshall’s Service. Slavery persists as the result of a 19th century constitutional compromise that allowed each state sovereignty over the issue. In the time of the story slavery remains in four states—a situation that has engenered extremely negative consequences for the rest of the country, undermining its economic and moral status and creating an environment where life in the north for blacks is barely better than it is in the South.