Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Beyond the River: The Untold Story of the Heroes of the Underground Railroad” as Want to Read:
Beyond the River: The Untold Story of the Heroes of the Underground Railroad
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Beyond the River: The Untold Story of the Heroes of the Underground Railroad

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  131 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Beyond the River brings to brilliant life the dramatic story of the forgotten heroes of the Ripley, Ohio, line of the Underground Railroad.

From the highest hill above the town of Ripley, Ohio, you can see five bends in the Ohio River. You can see the hills of northern Kentucky and the rooftops of Ripley’s riverfront houses. And you can see what the abolitionist John Rankin
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 6th 2004 by Simon Schuster (first published 2003)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Beyond the River, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Beyond the River

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really good personal stories...a saga of the UR.
Nov 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This is the true and inspiring story of the people of Ripley, Ohio and environs who served as the first stop out of the South on the Underground Railroad. I visited Ripley,three years ago. It sits on the Ohio River and one can easily see how slaves escaping from Kentucky wold find thier way to Ripley. What is inspiring is that many of the residents of this town, including free blacks, risked their lives to shepherd hundreds of runaway slaves north to Canada and freedom.

The story centers around
Oct 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book helped me appreciate how horrendous the culture of American slaveholding was, and I thought I knew a lot about the subject. It also helped me to appreciate how hard it was to fight against slavery. If you stand against racism today, you can take inspiration from this book. If you spend time in the Ohio Valley, this is a great companion to its places and the people who were there in the 19th century.
Mar 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I read this book for research purposes, but the stories in it are truly amazing. Every resident of Cincinnati should read this!
Sep 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book about the underground railroad in Ripley, OH. Highly recommended.
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ann is a good friend and this is her best book---about Ripley and the UGRR.
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved reading! I could the setting, because I'd been there.
Mar 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Tamra by: my father
I love the Underground Railroad. I love the history and the time period.

It was fun getting to "know" Reverend Rankin and his boys (the book is mainly about Rankin and Parker, two of the main Ripley, OH Underground Railroad conductors). I learned some good lessons from Rankin and his life and ideals. I also was very struck by his son, Adam Lowry--so much so that I thought about naming my own son after him. Adam Lowry's "conversion" to an active abolitionist's life is a gripping story. Truly life-
Dec 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in American history and/or Afro-American history
Wow! One of the best books I have read in a long time. The literary style of writing makes the historical info not only palatable, but enthralling. I met the author at the Antioch Writers' Workshop, and she is an amazing person. So hardworking, completely dedicated to her work. She moved from NYC to Ripley, Ohio, on the banks of the eponymous river, to research and complete this work. The research is astounding. Just reading her notes and acknowledgements is inspiring and daunting to a would-be ...more
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book will always stand as a watershed resource in my education on the history of slavery in the US. It shines more so because it was a gift from my dear cousin Marg, who drove my daughter and I to the Ohio River town of Ripley, which the book is about. We visited the Rankin house on the hill, which was closed but became open to us when Marg, an accomplished landscape architect, began a conversation with the restorers within. They were painting the home with period details. I'm Midwestern br ...more
May 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I thought this book would be a collection of Underground Railroad escapes. Although it did include some details of many escapes (including the famous one that inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe) this is a carefully researched history of the abolitionists in Ohio, especially John Rankin of Ripley, Ohio. It is not an easy, quick read. I found it fascinating to see how the forces against slavery and the forces defending the "peculiar institution" escalated in opposition to each other. I understood bett ...more
Jul 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Well-researched and well-told account of the Underground Railroad that focused on the role of the abolitionists along the Ohio River. As a native of Ohio, I had never before considered my state's importance in the Underground Railroad but Ohio was the state that slaves fleeing the south sought out. If they could make it across the Ohio river, they were in free territory. Of course, they could still be caught by slave catchers and dragged back to slavery so the small towns along the river became ...more
Leland Seese
Oct 15, 2008 added it
Recommends it for: anyone interested US history
Recommended to Leland by: Clare Conrad
This book opened a chapter of US history that I had not previously read about -- the pre-Civil War struggles to abolish slavery. Being a Presbyterian minister, I was inspired by the courage and steadfast faith among these Presbyterians (and Methodists!).

The book is well-written, in a style that captures the harrowing process of moving men, women, and children from slave-holding states to freedom. Only very rarely does Hagedorn lapse into rather grandiose summary statements seem superfluous to th
Jul 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Well-researched and well-told history of the people in Ripley, Brown County, Ohio who risked all in their dedication to helping runaway slaves from across the Ohio river in Kentucky to freedom in the North. The network of the Rankins, Gillilands, Mahans, Coffins and others on the Underground Railroad provided the models for characters in Uncle Tom's Cabin. Yet another testament to the power of a dedicated minority to fight oppression and bring positive change to a resistant majority. A GOOD read ...more
Mar 10, 2009 rated it did not like it
I was hopeful that this would be an interesting book! I became very interested in the Underground Railroad living in Virginia and was excited to read this book but it is SO detailed that I felt like I was back in history class in college. I read the first couple of chapters, skimmed several more and still could not really find the root of the story - way too much information. So, if anyone has a good book about the Underground Railroad, let me know!
Rose Paluch
May 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book portrayed John Rankin wonderfully. He did more than Harriet Tubman and transformed American attitudes of abolition without receiving proper textbook credit. A must-read. Perfectly explains how Harriet Beecher Stowe got her Eliza story. Afterward, visit Ripley - it will change your teaching!
Ron Cammel
Jul 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
An excellent book, and an important one. The stories open modern readers to the reality of humanity in America's darkest days. With the author's superb mix of stories and documentation, the reader can draw parallels to today's issues and public discourse. Occassionally, some dry information is listed, but this is easily skimmed to get ahead to the well-told stories. I highly recommend the book.
Feb 17, 2010 is currently reading it
I love learning about slavery and the road to emancipation. History, especially the untold stories therein, always fascinates me. Currently, I am learning specifically about John Rankin and the town of Ripley up the Ohio River.
Jeffery Thompson
Jan 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is the only book I know of that mentions one of my ancestors. I'm so proud of my Thompson and Salisbury predecessors who broke the law to help fugitive slaves in southern Ohio and Indiana. This book is informative and engaging.
Katrina Bergherm
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonficton
Didn't finish; lost interest.
May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Good book. The book gives a very interesting over view of the abolitionist movement and how it changes over time. I think it was slow to start but then got very interesting to read.
Debbie Crocker
Mar 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent account of the Underground Railroad in Ripley, Ohio. It made me really understand why the Civil War was fought!
Feb 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the 2004 RUSA Notable Books winners. For the complete list, go to
Patrick Belair
rated it really liked it
Jul 07, 2014
rated it it was ok
Dec 11, 2008
rated it liked it
Dec 26, 2013
rated it liked it
Aug 08, 2016
rated it liked it
Dec 31, 2012
Karen McCarthy
rated it it was amazing
Jan 22, 2016
Gail French
rated it it was amazing
Apr 15, 2018
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • An Uncommon Soldier: The Civil War Letters of Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, Alias Pvt. Lyons Wakeman, 153rd Regiment, New York State Volunteers, 1
  • I've Got a Home in Glory Land: A Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad
  • With or Without God: Why the Way We Live is More Important than What We Believe
  • The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano
  • Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom
  • Washington's General: Nathanael Greene and the Triumph of the American Revolution
  • The Drillmaster of Valley Forge: The Baron de Steuben and the Making of the American Army
  • Hezbollah: A Short History
  • Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad, America's First Civil Rights Movement
  • The Underground Railroad: Authentic Narratives and First-Hand Accounts
  • Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad
  • Peanut
  • Glory, Passion, and Principle: The Story of Eight Remarkable Women at the Core of the American Revolution
  • The Most Dangerous Place: Pakistan's Lawless Frontier
  • Eternal Man
  • Harriet Tubman, Secret Agent: How Daring Slaves and Free Blacks Spied for the Union During the Civil War
  • Lost At Sea
  • Inherently Unequal: The Betrayal of Equal Rights by the Supreme Court, 1865-1903
Ann Hagedorn is the author of five books, including the recently released The Invisible Soldiers: How America Outsourced Our Security. She was born in Dayton, Ohio and grew up in Dayton, Kansas City and Cleveland. Since college, she has lived in Chicago, Ann Arbor, MI, Lawrence, KS, San Francisco, and New York City. Hagedorn earned a B.A. in history from Denison University, an M.S. in information ...more
More about Ann Hagedorn

Nonfiction Deals

  • Hope and Other Luxuries: A Mother's Life with a Daughter's Anorexia
    $19.99 $2.99
  • Manic: A Memoir
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Who Gets What — and Why: The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures
    $19.99 $1.99
  • Without a Doubt
    $5.99 $2.49
  • The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (Harperbusiness Essentials)
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking
    $9.99 $3.99
  • Paris Letters
    $14.99 $2.99
  • Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm
    $13.74 $1.99
  • My Cross to Bear
    $11.24 $1.99
  • The Warrior Ethos
    $6.99 $1.99
  • A Chance in this world
    $5.99 $0.99
  • It's Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness
    $13.99 $1.99
  • A Deadly Game: The Untold Story of the Scott Peterson Investigation
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Everyday Zen
    $11.24 $1.99
  • Make Good Art
    $9.99 $1.99
  • In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Somebody Else's Kids
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Maude
    $2.99 $1.49
  • Here Is Where: Discovering America's Great Forgotten History
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food (Revised Edition)
    $13.99 $1.99
  • The Rational Optimist (P.S.)
    $14.49 $2.99
  • Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive & Creative Self
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Of Wolves and Men (Scribner Classics)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • God: A Story of Revelation
    $8.74 $1.99
  • In My Skin: A Memoir of Addiction
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book
    $10.95 $1.99
  • The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words, 1000 BC - 1492 AD
    $13.99 $2.99
  • I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen
    $11.74 $1.99
  • Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Where the Past Begins: A Writer's Memoir
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Jim Henson: The Biography
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Belles on Their Toes
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Unshakeable Trust: Find the Joy of Trusting God at All Times, in All Things
    $11.99 $3.99
  • Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of How the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World That Loves to Be Noticed
    $9.99 $2.99
  • I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Things I've Been Silent About
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Dharma Punx: A Memoir
    $11.49 $1.99
  • Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings
    $10.99 $1.99