The Good Lord Bird

The Good Lord Bird From the bestselling author of The Color of Water and Song Yet Sung comes the story of a young boy born a slave who joins John Brown s antislavery crusade and who must pass as a girl to survive Henry

From the bestselling author of The Color of Water and Song Yet Sung comes the story of a young boy born a slave who joins John Brown s antislavery crusade and who must pass as a girl to survive Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti and pro slavery forces When John Brown, the legendary abFrom the bestselling author of The Color of Water and Song Yet Sung comes the story of a young boy born a slave who joins John Brown s antislavery crusade and who must pass as a girl to survive Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti and pro slavery forces When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry s master quickly turns violent Henry is forced to leave town with Brown, who believes he s a girl Over the ensuing months, Henry whom Brown nicknames Little Onion conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive Eventually Little Onion finds himself with Brown at the historic raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859 one of the great catalysts for the Civil War An absorbing mixture of history and imagination, and told with McBride s meticulous eye for detail and character, The Good Lord Bird is both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival.

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The Good Lord Bird

  1. James McBride is a native New Yorker and a graduate of New York City public schools He studied composition at The Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and received his Masters in Journalism from Columbia University in New York at age 22 He holds several honorary doctorates and is currently a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University He is married with three children He lives in Pennsylvania and New York James McBride is a former staff writer for The Washington Post, People Magazine, and The Boston Globe His work has also appeared in Essence, Rolling Stone, and The New York Times His April, 2007 National Geographic story entitled Hip Hop Planet is considered a respected treatise on African American music and culture.As a musician, he has written songs music and lyrics for Anita Baker, Grover Washington Jr and Gary Burton, among others He served as a tenor saxophone sideman for jazz legend Little Jimmy Scott He is the recipient of several awards for his work as a composer in musical theater including the Stephen Sondheim Award and the Richard Rodgers Foundation Horizon Award His Riffin and Pontificatin Tour, a nationwide tour of high schools and colleges promoting reading through jazz, was captured in a 2003 Comcast documentary He has been featured on national radio and television programs in America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand from his official website

551 Reply to “The Good Lord Bird”

  1. NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER The old face, crinkled and dented with canals running every which way, pushed and shoved up against itself for a while, till a big old smile busted out from beneath em all, and his grey eyes fairly glowed It was the first time I ever saw him smile free A true smile It was like looking at the face of God And I knowed then, for the first time, that him being the person to lead the colored to freedom weren t no lunacy It was something he knowed true inside him I saw it cl [...]


  2. This was an extremely difficult read as I was constantly struggling with the thin lines satire cautiously walks When does satire become mockery When does it become buffoonery When does respect give way to disrespect These are questions I kept asking throughout my read Because I was filled with so many questions both morally and intellectually I couldn t help but hold this book, and the author, in high regards McBride takes a difficult subject and puts it out there On the surface, it s a funny li [...]


  3. Here s what I knew prior to reading The Good Lord Bird That some guy in the history books named Brown tried to eradicate racial injustice That this guy was not the same Brown who took on the Board of Education He was from slavery days That Harper s Ferry was a place, not a boat And something of historical importance took place there, though I was fuzzy on exactly what That Frederick Douglass was a famous black orator and abolitionist with an impressive head of hair That slavery was a rotten deal [...]


  4. A real corker The action is set around abolitionist John Brown s raid on the Harpers Ferry armory in 1859, which helped precipitate the American Civil War 1861 65 Brown s plan was to steal tens of thousands of rifles from the sleepy, rural armory With them he would arm fugitive slaves hiding in the Blue Ridge Mountains against their so called masters It didn t quite work out Brown and nineteen others were hung for the attempt.I like that it s a folksy tale without literary hi jinx The whole thin [...]


  5. They call that a Good Lord Bird, Fred tells Onion It s so pretty that when man sees it, he says, Good Lord A perfect metaphor for the abolitionist John Brown who led a pathetic band of followers, called the Pottawatomie Rifles, in the raid of a federal government arsenal at Harper s Ferry in West Virginia in 1859 The band of followers were nothing but a ragtag assortment of fifteen of the scrawniest, bummiest, saddest looking individuals you ever saw Many sources regards this real event and John [...]


  6. If Mark Twain and Mel Brooks had ever collaborated, they would have invented a comic character like Henry etta Shackleford, a light skinned slave boy who is freed by the American Abolitionist John Brown and who passes as a girl for most of The Good Lord Bird It is lucky for us that James McBride thought to create him and to place him at the center of Brown s bloody and quixotic leap into immortality As the first person narrator, Henry paints a complex portrait of Brown that is both laudatory and [...]


  7. As the Reader s Advisory Librarian in a library system, I read many, many books There are only a few that I would truly consider to be works of lasting significance This is one such book.In my reading I was struck with the story For me, it started as a very entertaining recounting of Onion s adventures when he is liberated by John Brown in Kansas during the Border War 1854 1861 I thought that it would be a story similar to those portrayed in the movies O Brother, Where Art Thou and Little Big Ma [...]


  8. Well, I really did want to like this book a lot than I did After all, it won a National Book Award and got a rave from the NYT Who am I to challenge that And the ending packs a wallop, that s for sure The problem is all the hills you have to climb to get there The Good Lord Bird is a novel about race, religion, gender, the American frontier, history and the ivory billed woodpecker the bird of the title, because people who saw it were so astonished they cried out, Good Lord In other words, it co [...]


  9. A wonderful tragicomedy about the life of the abolitionist John Brown told from the perspective of a fictional mascot nicknamed the Onion, a freed slave boy assumed to be a girl The child, Henry, is ten and serving as a shoeshine boy with his barber father in Missouri, when John Brown s raiders attack the tavern of their owner and abduct him after his father is accidentally killed in the gunfire Henry plays it safe to accede to their presumption he is a girl and assumes the name Henrietta Brown [...]


  10. John Brown s body lies a mouldering in the grave Glory Hally, Hallelujah Glory Hally, Hallelujah Glory Hally, Hallelujah He s gone to be a soldier in the army of the Lord His soul is marching on John Brown s Body, Union Army marching song, Am Civil War, 1861As the 2013 National Book Award winning novel begins, Henry Shackleford s memoirs are found in a Delaware church Henry was a 12 year old slave in Kansas when taken in by abolitionist firebrand John Brown in 1857 under an odd set of circumstan [...]


  11. The Good Lord Bird Written by James McBride, Copyrighted in 2013Published By Riverhead Books, Hardback I was born a colored man and don t you forget it But I lived as a colored woman for seventeen years The Good Lord Bird is written in three parts Free Deeds Kansas , Slave Deeds Missouri , and Legend Virginia.Henry was a slave who along with his father Pa belonged to the owner Dutch Henry Sherman of Dutch Henry s Tavern, in southern Kansas Henry s father worked as a barber at the tavern An old m [...]


  12. The Good Lord Bird is that book that you read, and then reread immediately because of the striking and breathtaking acrobatics the author makes on the page I was so impressed with this book that I didn t want to put it down, nor did I find myself doing anything less than going from laughter to tears to just exclaiming wow as I read It is a masterpiece.McBride in this work is Mark Twain and Quentin Tarentino, with a healthy helping of the humor, violence, sweet honesty, and remarkable awe that we [...]


  13. When I first heard of this book, I saw the cover and didn t think much of it But then I started seeing it pop up everywhere I turned When my book group here on chose it for a summer read, I still had no intention of reading it Then I finally read some of the description of what the book is about and I thought, That s interesting And while many in my book group are only lukewarm on it, I really loved this book.It deals with the famous or infamous John Brown and the uprising at Harper s Ferry I ha [...]


  14. This novel, which took home the National Book Award in 2013, is an odd duck Author James McBride most famous for his memoir The Color of Water constructs this historical fiction novel around John Brown and the 19th century abolitionist movement But instead of taking a tragic or triumphant tone, as you might expect, McBride presents his story in a folksy, comic fashion The result is a little uneven, but certainly different.Comedy gold The tale is narrated by an ex slave named Onion, who s picked [...]


  15. I am an absolute fan of historical fiction especially when it is done this well I ve always been curious about John Brown I can read to gather the facts of his life and study the old photos but he hardly seems than a historical document Fiction this book steps in and brings it all to life Big, passionate, foolhardy life Great story.


  16. John Brown is a problem He represented the extreme but correct response to slavery times he just dropped everything and said Well, that s awful and I m going to murder everyone who does it, and then he did nothing but that for the rest of his life So that s greath, but he was so bad at it Like he hardly managed to kill anybody And plus he was white, and white heroes fighting racism make us feel squidgy And besides which, check him out Lookit that fuckin guy, right He looks like Yosemite Sam And [...]


  17. I m deeply disappointed not to like this book , and astonished that it won the National Book Award In a word, the book is contrived Blatantly, flagrantly contrived And throughout, there are few stretches when I was so engrossed in it that I was unconscious of the narration and the author s particular choice of words Not to mention the poor storytelling that leads him to repeat details out of suspicion that the reader is not smart enough to pay attention the first time What is the purpose of this [...]


  18. Find all of my reviews at 52bookminimum A young slave named Henry Shackleford gets caught up with abolitionist John Brown and the fight for freedom when Brown kills Henry s father A misunderstanding in the heat of the moment also has Brown believing Henry to be a Henrietta a mistaken identity Henry continues to assume as he tries to stay alive.Ack This is a hard review to write Mainly because I didn t feel anything while I was reading this story It generally takes me about a day or day and a hal [...]


  19. Historical novels come in many forms and McBride has gifted us a winner, engaging our every sense and every emotion as we imagine John Brown s raid on Harper s Ferry that hastened the start of the Civil War He places the story in the mouth of an unreliable narrator, Onion, a young boy dressed as a girl, who shares his experience and opinions on how that raid came about and why it failed as an insurgency Living for years with John Brown s travelling band gave Onion an up close and personal look a [...]


  20. The Good Lord Bird gets four stars on originality alone, although it is also very enjoyable, and surprisingly moving In a year when many of the books I ve read seem to retread familiar patterns and concerns, the picaresque first person narrative of a pre teen cross dressing but straight African American boy experiencing slavery in the Wild West, John Brown s guerilla campaigns, and encounters with the lodestars of the abolition movement is as much of a bracing pick me up as the rotgut whisky our [...]


  21. McBride s latest is a rambunctious imaginative historical adventure tale offering a fresh perspective on a volatile period in American history John Brown s zealous quest to free the slaves and the events leading up to raid on Harper s Ferry As the book opens in 1856 Kansas Territory, the narrator 10 year old, Henry Onion Shackleford is learning a trade and slave survival tips witnesses his father being killed in a shoot out between his master and the abolitionist John Brown With John Brown winni [...]


  22. Where I got the book review copy provided by the Historical Novel Society This review first appeared on the HNS website.Was John Brown a terrorist, martyr, hero, lunatic, saint or deluded fool After reading The Good Lord Bird I would still hesitate to give a straight answer, although James McBride does appear to be leaning toward a heroic, almost saint like depiction of the raider of Harper s Ferry toward the end of this rollicking ride through the latter part of Brown s life.McBride introduces [...]


  23. Book on CD performed by Michael Boatman.3.5 McBride looks at John Brown and Harpers Ferry through the lens of a freed slave, Henry Shackleford known as Onion Onion narrates the tale, taking the readers from Kansas Territory in 1856 to the events at Harpers Ferry then in the Commonwealth of Virginia , when abolitionists led by Brown raided the armory in 1859 This was a pivotal event in the onset of the Civil War.Onion is a fictional character, but there are many real historical figures in the boo [...]


  24. This book won the National Book Award, and even though I haven t read the other nominees it was up against, I can see why this was chosen It takes a little slice of American History, namely John Brown s raids in Kansas territory and his attack on Harper s Ferry in West Virginia, puts human faces and emotions on the raw facts, and makes it come alive Yes, John Brown was a lunatic, but a lunatic with a cause, which made him a dangerous man He felt he had been called by God to free the slaves and d [...]


  25. It s on page 251 of James McBride novel The Good Lord Bird that a passage can found which speaks to the whole of this remarkable novel.The novel, at times irreverent but always historically accurate, tells the tale of Henry Shackleford, a slave boy in Kansas Territory The fiery abolitionist John Brown arrives in the area in 1856, a year known as Bloody Kansas because of the fighting between anti and pro slavery forces After Brown kills Henry s master he takes Henry A case of mistaken identity ha [...]


  26. James McBride walks a fine line in the National Book Award winning The Good Lord Bird Treating tragic and painful historical events with humor is risky business His subject is John Brown and the failed raid on the federal armory at Harper s Ferry in 1861 Brown was a zealot whose plan to free the slaves bordered on lunacy but McBride succeeds in humanizing him in a rollicking romp of a story that is both irreverent and historically astute The narrator is Henry Shackleford, a twelve year old slave [...]


  27. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride is an adventurous, humorous tale narrated by Henry Shackleford, a 10 year old slave, who through no fault of his own falls into abolitionist John Brown s army in the Kansas Territory a few years before the infamous Harper s Ferry Raid The novel takes on a Mark Twain ish type of flavor in that touches of irony, satire, and hyperbole are interwoven in the tale from the onset For example, Henry is mistaken for a Henrietta and thrown into a dress and bonnet ceremo [...]


  28. 2016 usa geography challenge DELAWAREThe story of John Brown and his battle against slavery told through the remembrances of a young slave who Brown freed in Kansas during the Border Wars and who travelled with him for the next several years until the climatic events at Harpers Ferry The slave, twelve year old Henry Shackleford, was mistaken by Brown for a girl and lived that lie through most of the story Brown called her the Onion and considered her to be his good luck piece Henrietta grew as a [...]


  29. I honestly don t know how to describe this book One reviewer posted when Mark Twain meets Mel Brooks this is what you get I read that after finishing so I was not prepared to laugh at many scenes and the guilt that came with it Slavery and war are horrible and provoke shame but with that comes the opportunity to reflect and learn and grow It took me awhile to be comfortable with the presentation which is in the American Folklore tradition than historical fiction.This was satire pulled off brill [...]


  30. I do not know where to start The imagination that James McBride has to have to come up with the idea to create such a protagonist of his novel and to tell the story we know in such a suspenseful way, has to be almost unlimited In the same time in this multilevel coming of age story, he draws the picture of slavery, so full of shades and details I ve never seen before, interesting video of McBride talking a bit of this aspect of his book, youtube watch v OUCzTz.The humor, maturity and the ambitio [...]


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