100 books like Flight to Freedom

By Alvin O. Thompson,

Here are 100 books that Flight to Freedom fans have personally recommended if you like Flight to Freedom. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation

Sylviane A. Diouf Author Of Slavery's Exiles: The Story of the American Maroons

From my list on runaways and Maroons in the Americas.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a social historian of the African Diaspora. I am passionate about writing stories that have never been told. The stories I uncover detail the lives, struggles, and resistance of enslaved people. I am interested in and have written about such overlooked topics as African resistance to the transatlantic slave trade; Maroons in the American South; the experience of African Muslims enslaved throughout the Americas; and the lives of the people deported on the Clotilda, the last slave ship to the US. Much still needs to be unearthed to help form a more comprehensive history of the people who, in countless and remarkable ways, fought against their subjugation.

Sylviane's book list on runaways and Maroons in the Americas

Sylviane A. Diouf Why did Sylviane love this book?

I thoroughly enjoyed this exhaustive study of American runaways that uses a wide variety of often ignored archival material.

This great book details the reasons, the places, the profiles, the strategies, and the objectives of some of the tens of thousands of people who, each year, left the plantations behind. They included Free Blacks who had been kidnapped and managed to get away.

There is quasi nothing on Maroons but, to my delight, Franklin and Schweninger show that contrary to popular belief, most runaways did not attempt to go North but remained in the South, close to their families, or in nearby cities and towns, another county, or another state. 

By John Hope Franklin, Loren Schweninger,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Runaway Slaves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From John Hope Franklin, America's foremost African American historian, comes this groundbreaking analysis of slave resistance and escape. A sweeping panorama of plantation life before the Civil War, this book reveals that slaves frequently rebelled against their masters and ran away from their plantations whenever they could.
For generations, important aspects about slave life on the plantations of the American South have remained shrouded. Historians thought, for instance, that slaves were generally pliant and resigned to their roles as human chattel, and that racial violence on the plantation was an aberration. In this precedent setting book, John Hope Franklin and…


Book cover of Maroon Societies: Rebel Slave Communities in the Americas

Sylviane A. Diouf Author Of Slavery's Exiles: The Story of the American Maroons

From my list on runaways and Maroons in the Americas.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a social historian of the African Diaspora. I am passionate about writing stories that have never been told. The stories I uncover detail the lives, struggles, and resistance of enslaved people. I am interested in and have written about such overlooked topics as African resistance to the transatlantic slave trade; Maroons in the American South; the experience of African Muslims enslaved throughout the Americas; and the lives of the people deported on the Clotilda, the last slave ship to the US. Much still needs to be unearthed to help form a more comprehensive history of the people who, in countless and remarkable ways, fought against their subjugation.

Sylviane's book list on runaways and Maroons in the Americas

Sylviane A. Diouf Why did Sylviane love this book?

I first became acquainted with the continental magnitude of marronage with the 1979 edition of this classic book. Richard Price, the expert on Maroon communities in Surinam, presents 21 texts on marronage in Spanish America, the French Caribbean, the United States, Brazil, Jamaica, Surinam, and French Guiana.

Sixteen pioneering historical studies were written by various scholars between the 1960s and 1970s. Five texts or testimonies by contemporaries, including Maroons themselves, were produced in the 18th and 19th centuries. Taken together, these studies and testimonies are essential to understanding the reach and significance of the maroon phenomenon in the history of Black people in the Americas.

By Richard Price (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Maroon Societies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now in its twenty-fifth anniversary edition, Maroon Societies is a systematic study of the communities formed by escaped slaves in the Caribbean, Latin America, and the United States. These societies ranged from small bands that survived less than a year to powerful states encompassing thousands of members and surviving for generations and even centuries. The volume includes eyewitness accounts written by escaped slaves and their pursuers, as well as modern historical and anthropological studies of the maroon experience. From the recipient of the J. I. Staley Prize in Anthropology


Book cover of Fugitive Slaves and Spaces of Freedom in North America

Sylviane A. Diouf Author Of Slavery's Exiles: The Story of the American Maroons

From my list on runaways and Maroons in the Americas.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a social historian of the African Diaspora. I am passionate about writing stories that have never been told. The stories I uncover detail the lives, struggles, and resistance of enslaved people. I am interested in and have written about such overlooked topics as African resistance to the transatlantic slave trade; Maroons in the American South; the experience of African Muslims enslaved throughout the Americas; and the lives of the people deported on the Clotilda, the last slave ship to the US. Much still needs to be unearthed to help form a more comprehensive history of the people who, in countless and remarkable ways, fought against their subjugation.

Sylviane's book list on runaways and Maroons in the Americas

Sylviane A. Diouf Why did Sylviane love this book?

By placing the American runaways’ experience in a continental perspective, this well-researched book brings a fresh outlook to the increasingly popular topic of runaways.

Besides the North and Canada, the contributors examine the motivations, lives, and networks of the people who looked for freedom in all directions. Taking their lives into their own hands, they found refuge in Southern cities, the Texas-Mexico borderlands, Mexico, which abolished slavery in 1829, Indian Country, and the Caribbean.

For each destination, the contributors study and evaluate the degree of freedom, formal, semiformal, and informal, which these self-liberated men and women were able to achieve.

By Damian Alan Pargas (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fugitive Slaves and Spaces of Freedom in North America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This volume introduces a new way to study the experiences of runaway slaves by defining different "spaces of freedom" they inhabited. It also provides a groundbreaking continental view of fugitive slave migration, moving beyond the usual regional or national approaches to explore locations in Canada, the U.S. North and South, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

Using newspapers, advertisements, and new demographic data, contributors show how events like the Revolutionary War and westward expansion shaped the slave experience. Contributors investigate sites of formal freedom, where slavery was abolished and refugees were legally free, to determine the extent to which fugitive slaves experienced…


Book cover of Runaway Slave Settlements in Cuba: Resistance and Repression

Sylviane A. Diouf Author Of Slavery's Exiles: The Story of the American Maroons

From my list on runaways and Maroons in the Americas.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a social historian of the African Diaspora. I am passionate about writing stories that have never been told. The stories I uncover detail the lives, struggles, and resistance of enslaved people. I am interested in and have written about such overlooked topics as African resistance to the transatlantic slave trade; Maroons in the American South; the experience of African Muslims enslaved throughout the Americas; and the lives of the people deported on the Clotilda, the last slave ship to the US. Much still needs to be unearthed to help form a more comprehensive history of the people who, in countless and remarkable ways, fought against their subjugation.

Sylviane's book list on runaways and Maroons in the Americas

Sylviane A. Diouf Why did Sylviane love this book?

I have been totally captivated by this book about Cuban palenques, Maroon settlements, from 1737 to 1850.

La Rosa Corzo gives a fascinating account of several communities, their organization, activities, and resistance. I particularly appreciate his use of slave hunters’ diaries and military dispatches, which provide a unique insight into the repression against the palenqueros.

The author's meticulous study confirms what I found when researching Maroons in the United States:  whenever possible, they preferred flight to combat, an approach that enabled them to stay alive, return to their settlement once the danger had passed, or build a new one elsewhere.

In the case of Cuba, it was a winning strategy: several of these settlements have survived as small towns. 

By Gabino La Rosa Corzo, Mary Todd (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Runaway Slave Settlements in Cuba as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Combining archaeological and historical methods, Gabino La Rosa Corzo provides the most detailed and accurate available account of the runaway slave settlements ( palenques ) that formed in the inaccessible mountain chains of eastern Cuba from 1737 to 1850, decades before the end of slavery on the island. The traces that remain of these communities provide important clues to historical processes such as slave resistance and emancipation, anticolonial insurgency, and the emergence of a free peasantry. Some of the communities developed into thriving towns that still exist today. La Rosa challenges the claims of previous scholars and demonstrates how romanticized…


Book cover of A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787-1804

Christina Proenza-Coles Author Of American Founders: How People of African Descent Established Freedom in the New World

From my list on African Americans who shaped democracy in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

After growing up in South Florida, a longstanding crossroads of Southern, Latin, and Caribbean culture, I became a student of the African Diaspora in the Americas. I learned that Africans preceded the English in the Americas and arrived in greater numbers than Europeans until 1820. As a history professor and researcher, I continually came across the stories of Black men and women, enslaved and free, who started independence movements, fought in revolutions, established schools, businesses, newspapers, and political organizations - men and women who challenged slavery and discrimination and championed freedom at every opportunity. The number of individuals was overwhelming and fundamentally altered how I understand American history and democracy.

Christina's book list on African Americans who shaped democracy in America

Christina Proenza-Coles Why did Christina love this book?

During the Age of Revolution, enslaved and formerly enslaved residents of the French Caribbean were among those who most vigorously insisted that the “rights of man” were universal. This book focuses on the colony of Guadeloupe, though Laurent Dubois has written about the Haitian Revolution as well, an event that resulted in the first nation in the Americas to outlaw human enslavement. Enslaved and free Afro-French men and women engaged colonial assemblies and militias to stake their claims to the rights of citizenship. As they endeavored to turn Enlightenment ideals into political realities, Afro-Americans in the Caribbean championed the rise of freedom in the West.

By Laurent Dubois,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Colony of Citizens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The idea of universal rights is often understood as the product of Europe, but as Laurent Dubois demonstrates, it was profoundly shaped by the struggle over slavery and citizenship in the French Caribbean. Dubois examines this Caribbean revolution by focusing on Guadeloupe, where, in the early 1790s, insurgents on the island fought for equality and freedom and formed alliances with besieged Republicans. In 1794, slavery was abolished throughout the French Empire, ushering in a new colonial order in which all people, regardless of race, were entitled to the same rights. But French administrators on the island combined emancipation with new…


Book cover of The Slave's Cause: A History of Abolition

Justin Iverson Author Of Rebels in Arms: Black Resistance and the Fight for Freedom in the Anglo-Atlantic

From my list on Black resistance to slavery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of slavery and resistance in early America and in the Atlantic world, and I have long been passionate about how enslaved people refused to accept the chattel system and the many creative ways they found to resist their status. It has also become a central goal of mine to tell their stories and make sure we know more about how slave resistance influenced U.S. society in the past and how it shapes the world in which we live today.

Justin's book list on Black resistance to slavery

Justin Iverson Why did Justin love this book?

In this massive study of one of the most radical movements in U.S. history, Manisha Sinha extends the story of Abolition to the 18th century and on the international stage, forcing us to rethink what we thought we knew about the movement’s trajectory and who its central figures were.

By telling the broader story, Sinha demonstrates who central Black rebels were for moving the cause along and for creating an interracial alliance that would eventually succeed in 1865.

By Manisha Sinha,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Slave's Cause as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2017 Frederick Douglass Prize

A groundbreaking history of abolition that recovers the largely forgotten role of African Americans in the long march toward emancipation from the American Revolution through the Civil War

Received historical wisdom casts abolitionists as bourgeois, mostly white reformers burdened by racial paternalism and economic conservatism. Manisha Sinha overturns this image, broadening her scope beyond the antebellum period usually associated with abolitionism and recasting it as a radical social movement in which men and women, black and white, free and enslaved found common ground in causes ranging from feminism and utopian socialism to anti-imperialism…


Book cover of Tacky's Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War

Christian R. Burset Author Of An Empire of Laws: Legal Pluralism in British Colonial Policy

From my list on the rise of the British Empire.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a legal historian with a particular interest in eighteenth-century Britain and the United States. My research has investigated the history of arbitration, historical connections between law and politics, and changing attitudes to the rule of law. Since 2018, I’ve been a professor at Notre Dame Law School, where I teach courses in legal history, civil procedure, conflict of laws, and the rule of law.

Christian's book list on the rise of the British Empire

Christian R. Burset Why did Christian love this book?

The Seven Years’ War was a pivotal event in the formation of the British Empire, but histories of the conflict often omit a crucial battleground: Jamaica.

Starting in 1760, enslaved West Africans in Jamaica organized to throw off their captivity. Tacky’s Revolt, as the uprising became known, was the greatest slave rebellion the Atlantic world had yet seen. It was also linked to other, global struggles, both in Africa and between European empires.

In Tacky’s Revolt, Vincent Brown links these hyper-local and imperial stories. I found it particularly useful for understanding the complexities of race and ethnicity in the eighteenth-century British Caribbean. 

By Vincent Brown,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Tacky's Revolt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award
Winner of the Frederick Douglass Book Prize
Winner of the Elsa Goveia Book Prize
Winner of the James A. Rawley Prize in the History of Race Relations
Winner of the P. Sterling Stuckey Book Prize
Winner of the Harriet Tubman Prize
Winner of the Phillis Wheatley Book Award
Finalist for the Cundill Prize

A gripping account of the largest slave revolt in the eighteenth-century British Atlantic world, an uprising that laid bare the interconnectedness of Europe, Africa, and America, shook the foundations of empire, and reshaped ideas of race and popular belonging.

In the…


Book cover of Denmark Vesey's Garden: Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy

Judith Reifsteck Author Of Memoried and Storied: Healing our Shared History of Racial Violence

From my list on the power of memory to heal racial trauma.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love writing and teaching about topics that help me understand my life and my community better. And I love to contemplate the question - How do we come to care about the same things? As a psychotherapist I have firsthand experience in the disruption that any type of violence causes until it's repaired. One way to advocate for the vulnerable who do not have protection in their communities is to tell the story of the silent, unknown victims of lynching and other acts of racism and racial violence. Only by memorializing the stories of the victims of racial injustice can we repair the trauma and tell the true story of structural racism in America today.

Judith's book list on the power of memory to heal racial trauma

Judith Reifsteck Why did Judith love this book?

I recommend this first book because I believe racial violence won’t stop in our country until we tell the truth about our past. Only by memorializing the accurate stories of racial injustice in our history can we convince good people that white supremacy is alive and strong and destroying our national unity.

In their book, historians Kyle and Roberts reveal the links between the beliefs of the confederacy in the 1850s South and the modern-day massacre by white supremacist Dylann Roof who sought out slavery’s descendants and terrorized them anew in the 2015 Charleston massacre.

The murdered churchgoers were elders in the exact church that Denmark Vesey founded back in 1818. His statue and memorial garden is one of those public memorials we are still fighting about.

The story of resistor Denmark Vesey and other freedom fighters like him can lead to solutions for the tragedy of persistent racial violence.

By Ethan J. Kytle, Blain Roberts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Denmark Vesey's Garden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of Janet Maslin's Favorite Books of 2018, The New York Times

One of John Warner's Favorite Books of 2018, Chicago Tribune

Named one of the "Best Civil War Books of 2018" by the Civil War Monitor

"A fascinating and important new historical study."
-Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"A stunning contribution to the historiography of Civil War memory studies."
-Civil War Times

The stunning, groundbreaking account of "the ways in which our nation has tried to come to grips with its original sin" (Providence Journal)

Hailed by the New York Times as a "fascinating and important new historical…


Book cover of The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World

Robert G. Parkinson Author Of Heart of American Darkness: Bewilderment and Horror on the Early Frontier

From my list on the intersection of fiction and history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Fiction has a way of capturing people, places, and phenomena that often elude source-bound historians. As I say in my book, you feel the weight of all the terrible things Colonel Kurtz has done in central Africa far more by his whispering “the horror, the horror” than I, as a historian, could possibly convey by listing them out and analyzing them. That feel–especially what contingency feels like–is something historians should seek out and try to pull into their craft of writing. Getting used to and using fiction to help historians see and feel the past is a worthwhile endeavor. 

Robert's book list on the intersection of fiction and history

Robert G. Parkinson Why did Robert love this book?

Do you know how many gallons of blood are in a mature seal? That’s one of the many things you’ll find out in this gripping book about the true story that lies behind Herman Melville’s iconic short story, Benito Cereno.

It was the South Pacific in 1805, and a sealing vessel came upon a ship that they discovered was the result of an onboard slave insurrection. What happened, including the gushing of copious amounts of warm seal blood, is for you to discover. This is an amazing piece of history writing.  


By Greg Grandin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Empire of Necessity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One morning in 1805, off a remote island in the South Pacific, Captain Amasa Delano, a New England seal hunter, climbed aboard a distressed Spanish ship carrying scores of West Africans he thought were slaves. They weren't. Having earlier seized control of the vessel and slaughtered most of the crew, they were staging an elaborate ruse, acting as if they were humble servants. When Delano, an idealistic, anti-slavery republican, finally realized the deception, he responded with explosive violence. Drawing on research on four continents, The Empire of Necessity explores the multiple forces that culminated in this extraordinary event-an event that…


Book cover of The Spartacus War

Paul Hay Author Of Saeculum: Defining Historical Eras in Ancient Roman Thought

From my list on for aspiring Roman history buffs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of Roman history who teaches and writes about the social world of the ancient Romans. I’m drawn to the topic of ancient Rome because it seems simultaneously familiar and alien: the people always “feel real” to me, but the many cultural differences between Rome and modern America prod me to contemplate those aspects and values of my own world that I take for granted. I enjoy the high moral stakes of the political machinations as well as the aesthetic beauty of the artistic creations of Rome. And the shadow of Rome still looms large in American culture, so I find the study of antiquity endlessly instructive.

Paul's book list on for aspiring Roman history buffs

Paul Hay Why did Paul love this book?

Like many others, I have long been fascinated by the story of Spartacus and his fight for freedom (a story that has resonated with many activists and advocates around the world).

Strauss has a wonderful prose style that balances scholarly rigor with clarity for a popular audience. I still picture Kirk Douglas in my mind when I think about Spartacus, but reading this book also gave me a much fuller understanding of the sociopolitical context of this slave revolt.

By Barry Strauss,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Spartacus War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of the most famous revolt of the ancient world, and its legendary leader, Spartacus the Gladiator.

Spartacus was a Thracian gladiator who started a prison breakout with 74 men, armed with kitchen knives. It grew into a full scale rebellion against Rome, the most famous slave revolt in history. With an army of gladiators, ex-slaves and other desperadoes, he managed to defeat a succession of Roman armies and bring the Republic to its knees.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in slave rebellions, fugitive slaves, and the Caribbean?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about slave rebellions, fugitive slaves, and the Caribbean.

Slave Rebellions Explore 17 books about slave rebellions
Fugitive Slaves Explore 23 books about fugitive slaves
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