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The Last Thing You Surrender

4.87  ·  Rating details ·  45 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and bestselling novelist Leonard Pitts Jr.’s new historical page-turner is a great American tale of race and war, following three characters from the Jim Crow South as they face the enormous changes World War II triggers in the United States.

An affluent white marine survives Pearl Harbor at the cost of a black messman’s life only to be sen
Paperback, 464 pages
Published February 5th 2019 by Agate Bolden
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4.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  45 ratings  ·  17 reviews

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Sue-Lin Toussaint
Remarkable work of historical fiction that challenges our race notions

I almost NEVER write a review. But because I’ve read other works by this thoughtful author, I waited patiently for this one to be released, and read it with enthusiasm. It might be his best yet. Let me begin by saying I’m a “softy,” and often don’t like when books or movies get too gritty. Yet, I found that he painted pictures that I thought were necessary for us to see how deeply ugly and evil we can be to each out as “human
Sam Reaves
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There are tons of novels about World War Two, and the vast majority of them are about what it did to white folks. How African-Americans experienced the Second World War, at home and on the front lines, is a neglected story. Leonard Pitts has made a good start on remedying that with this big-canvas epic revolving around two families, one black and one white, in Mobile, Alabama and the Pacific and European theaters.
It is not a pretty story. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the Deep South w
Carolyn D.
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Seriously one of the best books I have ever read - and it was a random grab at the library. Intersects three lives in so many ways, but none of them are confusing. It transitioned beautifully from/to each story. I could have read 500 more pages!
Bruce Marshack
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Last Thing You Surrender is a monster! It hurts to read it. It often made me feel like a yo-yo. The violent parts bruise like pieces of Cormac McCarthy and the Norman Mailer of the Naked and the Dead but more lyrical and terse. There has been no finer exposition of the impact of an "us/them" approach to self and other and the overall quality of life in this republic than Pitts Jr.'s work over the past decade and a half. Freeman may have been the most important work published in the first dec ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Historical Fiction at its absolute finest!

Leonard Pitts, Jr. has written an incredible novel centered around race relations in the midst of WWII. A powerful drama with lots of gripping and very intense scenes. So if you’re at all squeamish about extreme racial violence and gruesome war scenes you might want to prepare yourself beforehand. An absolute tour-de-force by Pitts and now my favorite of his works.
Rick Reitzug
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the best novel I have read in many years. The book deals with themes of war, race, and the intersection of war and race. With profound insight and depth and many poignant scenes, the book graphically personalizes the horror and inhumanity of war. It also illustrates how racism and bigotry among the troops, in the military’s leadership, and in a country that was supposedly “pulling together to fight the foreign enemy”, continued to be prevalent and often superceded the battle against our ...more
Cindy Dean
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. One of the best novels for me in a long, long time. Mr. Pitts is an incredibly gifted storyteller and his prose was effortless to immerse myself into. While many parts of this story were difficult to stick with, they were necessary in understanding just what hell the main characters experienced in their intersecting lives, as victims of war violence as well as racial hate. Will definitely read more from this author.
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A brutally honest exploration of racial issues during World War II. It's a great story with a lot of heart and a lot of depth.
Thomas Neumann
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent Read & Storytelling

Loved the story and characters. I've read several works of historical fiction, for WWII and the Revolutionary War, and this was every bit as compelling a read. But so much more due to the racial backdrop for most of the characters and story. I'm old enough to have witnessed some of this atrocious behavior as a child in early 70s Dallas. But seeing the depth of and viciousness of it on display here is simply overwhelming. And to see some now think it's still okay
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely one of Mr. Pitts best books and I can’t rave enough about it. It is set in 1941-45 but is pertinent for current times. It was truly gut wrenching and heart breaking yet considering the time period the ending was a hopeful as it could be. I couldn’t put it down, yet didn’t want it to end and had to force myself to read the last 50 pages slowly, savoring every word.
Like Freeman these two books were more truthful than not and served as a history or civics lesson that many of us never lea
Jeannie Adams
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a phenomenal journey! I listened to the book this week and was enthralled from start to finish. Leonard Pitts offers deep insights into racism in the midst of World War II. The three main characters were fully developed as were the secondary individuals that were brought to life through Pitts' creativity which, likely, were all built based on history itself. There were several uncomfortable sections that made me want to quit reading or jump ahead to something less savagely brutal, but all w ...more
Awesome perspective on African Americans during WWII and combating the racial prejudice in America. The reader will learn about Jim Crow and the difficulty African Americans had while serving in the US military. An amazingly told story. Good writing, well-paced, and interesting characters. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good story that brings a little known part of World War II history to life.
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mr. Pitts has written a hard to read and yet absorbing novel about the evils humans do to one another, the thorny knot of racism, the sometimes slippery grasp of identity and faith. Set during WWII, yet still relevant, this book is, at times, just plain hard to read because of the sheer brutality of some of the characters. I believe it’s his best novel to date.
Ana Veciana-Suarez
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the incredible story of two families, one white and one black, intertwined by the events of World War II and the racism of the time. It's a real page-turner. And it will break your heart over and over, though it thankfully offers a glimmer of hope (and good deeds) throughout.
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
What a powerful,painful, amazing book to read. All the characters had something to learn and something to teach us. Unfortunately, I think the people who would really benefit from reading this book will not read it.. I thought it was amazing and recommend it highly
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Leonard Pitts Jr. was born and raised in Southern California. He is a columnist for the Miami Herald and won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. He was also a finalist for the Pulitzer in 1992. In 1997, Pitts took first place for commentary in division four (newspapers with a circulation of more than 300,000) in the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors' Ninth Annual Writing Award ...more