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4.37 of 5 stars 4.37  ·  rating details  ·  1,282 ratings  ·  358 reviews
Freeman, the new novel by Leonard Pitts, Jr., 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 thi...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published May 8th 2012 by Agate Bolden
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This book will stay in my mind and heart for a long, long time. It is, without a doubt, painful to read - the post-Civil war period was bloody and brutal, and Pitts does not hold back the level of assault on the bodies and minds of those who lived through this period. But the heart of the book is the inability of even the cruelest of institutions to crush humanity. Loyalty, persistence, passion, redemption, compassion, and above all, love and hope - these qualities persist. And healing - physica...more
This was a heavy book and I'm not referring to the weight because I read it on a Nook. I'm talking about the weight of emotion that powered through me as I read the heartbreaking things that take place. There was a particular scene where I was just bawling and I had to put my Nook down and continue reading the next day. Much good that did me because I bawled again a couple of pages later. Some other GR friends have commented that Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of Ame...more
If one has a grounding in African-American history, than much of this book will not be new or fresh ground. That is not to say a knowledge of African-American history is necessary to enjoy this novel, on the contrary. You will be educated and moved by the story of AAs struggling after emancipation. There are three concurrent journeys taking place in Freeman. Sam Freeman, Tilda and Prudence.

Through the story of these three, one really has to examine what is the right way to respond to sudden free...more
Too often people assume that when a war ends the trouble stops, the problems are over. That is far from true. It took over a century to begin to fix the Civil Rights problem that was supposedly resolved with the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865! This book is an excellent study on what life was like for the blacks in the years following the Civil War. This book is all about how the Dixie Southerners continued to view the colored. Views did not change overnight. It is also about how the blacks...more
Elle Thornton
I know I’m in the presence of fine writing if I find myself studying how the author achieved a passage’s clarity and rightness, its emotional weight. And I know I’m in the presence of a great story if I cry over it. I experienced both as I read Freeman by Leonard Pitts, Jr., a narrative of the lives of three former slaves, a Yankee woman and her adopted African-American sister at the end of the Civil War. A Pulitzer-prize winning newspaper columnist, Pitts unfolds dramatic scenes and dialogue th...more
It is the end of the American civil war and slavery had just been abolished. People were jubilantly dancing in the streets of America. An era came to an end.

Although it was one of the purposes of the war to establish freedom for everyone, nobody really seemed to grasp the real meaning of the concept. Those who finally gained their freedom were the least prepared for it. For most of them slavery was bad, but peace brought much worse consequences than ever envisioned. You could say the battle was...more
L.S. Childers
You know you become emotionally involved in a novel when a scene is so heartwrenching that you just have to close the book (or in my case, shut down my kindle), get yourself together, and pick it up a day later when you're ready to continue. I had a few of those moments while reading Freeman. The Reconstruction era in America was not the happy ending that many would have liked it to be (and I'm sure many former slaves never expected would happen anyway) and it is described in vivid detail in thi...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Publisher summary:
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 to find his wife, whom he has not seen in 15 years.

At the same time, a headstrong white woman of means misnamed Prudence leaves her Boston home for Buford, Mississippi,

Merged review:

Leonard Pitts Jr. used wonderful insight telling the story in the novel, “Freeman."

The war between the Union and Confederacy is over, but hate rages like wild fires burning Buford, Mississippi at its roots.

Now free after fighting in the war, Sam Freeman, the protagonist, is obsessed with the need to find his wife, Tilda. He has not seen her for 15 years and strikes out on a journey to find her. His love and search for Tilda is one of the driving forces in the novel; the love, dete...more
Freeman is a superb novel of post-Civil War. There are many wonderful and unforgettable characters in the book. It is truly a splendid read.

Sam Freeman, a runaway slave who once fought in the union army has decided to leave his safety in Philadelphia and head out on foot towards the war torn South in search of his wife, Tilda. Sam and his son, Luke, had left Tilda behind some 15 years ago to charge towards freedom. Not getting very far, Sam and Luke were captured; only to have Luke try to run of...more
Love never fails. - 1 Corinthians 13:8

I hate love stories. I loathe the unrealistic betrayal of a fantasy type whimsical tale of the perfect love affair, that results in the standard “happily ever after” conclusion. I was hesitant to read this book as a result of the implications of a love story included within the description of the novel, but decided to purchase it due to the inclusion of the historical accounts of the post antebellum era in America, which I enjoy reading. Boy was I wrong. Thi...more
So glad I decided to read this book after seeing it on display for Black History month and I feel enlightened, empowered and saddened after reading which is definitely the mark of a great book as I know it will stick with me forever..This is at the heart an agonizing love story for the ages of the depth of love and the real meaning of Corinithians verse that speaks of Love never failing,I gained such an appreciation for what it means to lose someone you love and what you would do to get them bac...more
Originally published at Reading Reality

I bought this book from Amazon because I read Leonard Pitts' columns religiously. On a so-called average day, he's always good. On his best days, and he has quite a lot of them, he knocks it out of the park. Unfortunately, all too many of his best writing has been brought on by the most painful events in this country's recent history, such as the massacre at Newtown.

I wanted to see what he'd do with a novel.

Some things are the same. Freeman is also about a...more
The love that Sam has for his Tilda is unbearable as well as losing his son to be free. Finally, I can read what it is like after the Civil War, after Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves and then was shot, and how the ones who were still contained in the mindset of not accepting freedom like Tilda due to fear and others who are seeking and trying to find what freedom is truly like but can lose their lives for it like Will and Lucinda. Prudence and Bonnie want to set out during this time and start a...more
Kelsey Burnette
If you do nothing else this year, you must read this book. Should be required reading for all Americans, especially those who continue to insist that the Civil War was about "states' rights" not slavery. As my husband always responds, "Yeah, states' rights to own slaves." Pitts does an exceptional job of recreating the "end" of the Civil War, making it so clear that the war was far from won and that the battle against those who have the belief in white superiority and a natural, God-given world...more
FREEMAN is a fantastic book. Readers will highly empathize with the well developed characters. History buffs fascinated by the Civil War time period will be enthralled. Those who take great interest in this nation's troublesome history of race relations will be deeply drawn in, and on numerous occasions will shake their head at the realization that centuries old truths stubbornly remain valid to this day. Those in eternal search for bittersweet love stories should immediately add Freeman to thei...more
Susan Poling
Freeman, the new novel by Leonard Pitts, Jr., 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 y...more

I can not write how my heart is moved by this novel. It is wonderful. FREEMAN by LEONARD PITTS takes place during the Post Civil War in the United States. Each character's story is intertwined beautifully and simply like a beginner's piece of needlepoint. The novel is a love story. Sam is the type of Black man most women find in their dreams. During slavery Sam leaves Tilda in Buford, Mississippi with her Master. Sam takes their son, Luke, with him to gain freedom. However, after the Civil War l...more
This is the longest book I have ever read. Well, not really, but it certainly felt like the longest book I have ever read. There are a lot of slave narratives out there with characters that pop out of the page, and the story is told so masterfully that the true horrors of slavery haunt the reader all the way down to their bones. This is not one of those books. In Freeman adorable children and one of the main characters die horribly, and this is only after one of the other protagonists loses his...more
FREEMAN is the story of the south following the end of the Civil War. Mr. Lenard Pitts does an extradinary job of capturing feelings, motives,actions, and emotions of both ex slaves and ex slave owners during this period. The story centers on the character, Sam (an ex slave), who is in search of his wife (also a slave)whom he has not seen in 15 years.
This book was an incredibly insightful journey for me. Yes, it was extreemely painful at times, but it was also so uplifting to experience the iron...more
Well-written historical fiction in the period right after the abolishment of slavery and the assassination of President Lincoln. Very hard to read at times for its graphic depiction of man's inhumanity to man, but I persevered -- glad I did. The characters of Ben and Prudence, and others, were not stereotypical in any fashion. Pitts did use some stereotypical characters I believe for economy of language. There were many strong characters and Sam's journey provided a great setting. The title says...more
AMAZING STORY. Leonard Pitts, Jr is a gem!
Unequivocally, Incredible!
This February I am embarking on a four book challenge in honor of Black History Month. The first novel, Freeman, tackles the plight of the American Negro in the aftermath of the civil war.

Told in three story lines that later converge, Pitts addresses all sorts of issues. The characters Sam and Ben, are former slaves that were separated from their wives and now seek them out. These are men who lived in the north and now must travel south to find family members they have not seen in many years. Of...more
This beautifully written novel begs a question I had never thought about before ... What happens the day after the Civil War ends, when people who have been slaves their entire lives are suddenly free? "Free? The word rattles in her thoughts, untethered, unattached, unconnected to any thing she has ever known or lived before. Free?" What does freedom mean? Through eloquent writing and compelling characters, Pitts explores the many forms freedom, or lack thereof, can take – physical, mental, and...more
Linda Hart
An engrossing, powerful read, to which I was riveted until its triumphant ending, this novel tells the stories of three individuals in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War.

Sam, a former runaway slave, now an educated successful man who is passionate about freedom, leaves his home & respectable position of employment in Philadelphia, on a desperate journey of 1,000 miles to find his wife whom he has not seen for 15 years.

Tilda, his wife, still considered as “property” by her brutal mast...more
Sarah Weathersby
I loved this book.

What do you do when you learn you are free for the first time in your life? The Civil War has ended and Leonard Pitts' cast of characters find themselves in different circumstances. For Sam it means leaving the safety of Philadelphia where he as lived several years as a Freeman, educated, and with a job, to set out for Mississippi to find his wife whom he hasn't seen in fifteen years.

For Ben it means finding his wife and daughter. Other nameless people wander through the story...more
Victoria Hess
This book of the aftermath of the civil war is written from the view of the former slaves. After years of unrest and fighting, leading to a Union victory, people of color throughout the United States found themselves free. Or did they? Sam, a runaway slave who had landed successfully in Philadelphia, set out to Mississippi to find his wife of thirty years, whom he had not seen in 15. Prudence, a wealthy abolitionist orphan and widow from Boston, wanted to go to Mississippi to open a school for N...more
Harrowing and beautifully written--one of those books where you know you're hearing from a writer who not only has a vast vocabulary, but knows how to arrange it decoratively on a page.

Sam is a slave who falls in love and marries another slave: Tilda. Their slave master teaches Tilda to read, Tilda teaches Sam, and this popular Bible verse becomes their couple 'thing': "Love is long suffering; it aboundeth in kindness." The verse sort of explains most of the book actually. But when Sam tries to...more
I love Leonard Pitts. In his column, he continually amazes me with his perception, insight, and ability to cut straight to the heart of matters. When it comes to commentary, this man is a genius. As a novelist, he's quite good, but I think my expectations are simply too high, given his incredible skill at commentary. I found the plot a bit convoluted, with some parts less believable than I would have liked, some of the dialogue a little stilted, and much of the writing just OK. When I was about...more
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Literary Fiction ...: Discussion: Freeman 170 136 Nov 12, 2012 12:11PM  
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Leonard Pitts, Jr. was born and raised in Southern California and now lives in suburban Washington, DC, with his wife and children. He is a columnist for the Miami Herald and won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, in addition to many other awards. He is also the author of the novel Freeman (Agate Bolden, 2012), Before I Forget (Agate Bolden, 2009); the collection Forward From this Moment: Sel...more
More about Leonard Pitts Jr....
Before I Forget Forward From this Moment: The Columns of Leonard Pitts, Jr. Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood Forward From this Moment: Selected Columns, 1994-2009 Forward From this Moment: Selected Columns, 1994-2008

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“Sometimes, you simply must follow your heart," she said. "No reasonable man can blame you for that." A smile. "No reasonable woman can, either.” 5 likes
“There were few things more paralyzing than fear and worry, and she could not understand why other people—even Bonnie—withstood them so readily. The world was what it was, the future would be what it would be, and there was not much you could do to change either. So you did what you knew was right, you accepted the consequences, and you did not look back.” 2 likes
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