100 books like Fugitive Slaves and Spaces of Freedom in North America

By Damian Alan Pargas (editor),

Here are 100 books that Fugitive Slaves and Spaces of Freedom in North America fans have personally recommended if you like Fugitive Slaves and Spaces of Freedom in North America. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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 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 Flight to Freedom: African Runaways and Maroons 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?

This book is predominantly about Caribbean runaways and Maroons, with some brief forays into South America and the United States.

I found Thompson’s approach quite enlightening. Rather than studying marronage by country, as is usually the case, he chose an encompassing thematic approach across territories. He studies the topic in four major parts: the ideological bases of marronage, its origin and development, maroon organization, and the question of accommodation and revolution.

This panoramic view, which also offers a lot of details, helps point out commonalities but also differences between communities. 

By Alvin O. Thompson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Flight to Freedom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

African slavery in the Americas has left indelible marks on the geographical, political, economic, social and cultural landscapes of the Americas. An important part of that indelibility is marronage that involved both flight from slavery and the establishment of free communities. This book is about the struggles of enslaved Africans in the Americas who achieved freedom through flight and the establishment of Maroon communities in the face of overwhelming military odds on the part of the slaveholders. Incontestably, Maroon communities constituted the first independent polities from European colonial rule in the hemisphere, even if the colonial states did not accord…


Book cover of Slave Stealers: True Accounts of Slave Rescues: Then and Now

Seth Mallios Author Of Born a Slave, Died a Pioneer: Nathan Harrison and the Historical Archaeology of Legend

From my list on confronting slavery and how it impacts society today.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an archaeologist, anthropologist, and historian who has worked on both the East Coast (Flowerdew Hundred and Jamestown, Virginia) and West Coast (San Diego, California) of the U.S. and dug sites from the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, I am passionate about how archaeology can serve to offer new insights for marginalized peoples in American history. I specialize in exposing how narrow thinking, revisionism, and myth-making warp local histories and turn them into fabrications of the present. 

Seth's book list on confronting slavery and how it impacts society today

Seth Mallios Why did Seth love this book?

This book weaves together two strikingly different stories about slavery that are separated by centuries and hundreds of miles. Ballard's powerful and riveting book not only demonstrates how exploitation in the Americas transcends time and space, it also offers evidence of good deeds by everyday people to combat such lingering evil.

By Timothy Ballard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the 1800s American South, Harriet Jacobs is enslaved and tormented by a cruel master. He relentlessly attempts to force her into a sexual union, and, when rebuffed, he separates her from her children and spends a lifetime trying to coerce her and then recapture her when she escapes to freedom. Jacobs outwits her tormentor and eventually reunites with her children, works in the cause of abolition and reform, and helps newly freed slaves with education and aftercare.

In 2012, Timothy Ballard encounters a grieving father in Haiti whose three-year-old son has been kidnapped and sold into slavery, along with…


Book cover of Illusions of Emancipation: The Pursuit of Freedom and Equality in the Twilight of Slavery

Frank J. Cirillo Author Of The Abolitionist Civil War: Immediatists and the Struggle to Transform the Union

From my list on the long and difficult fight against slavery in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent many a night growing up glued to the television, watching Ken Burns’ Civil War. But as I got older, I found my interests stretching beyond the battles and melancholic music on the screen. I decided to become a historian of abolitionism–the radical reform movement that fought to end the evils of slavery and racial prejudice. Through my research, I seek to explain the substantial influence of the abolitionist movement as well as its significant limitations. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in 2017, and have since held positions at such institutions as The New School, the University of Bonn, and the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Frank's book list on the long and difficult fight against slavery in America

Frank J. Cirillo Why did Frank love this book?

Reidy's book is an elegant and engaging read, but it is not an easy one.

It illustrates how the process of emancipation actually played out on the ground after Abraham Lincoln issued his famed Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. It takes us away from the marble edifices of Civil War Washington and into the dirt, showing us how messy the process of implementing freedom truly was.

It does so, moreover, by centering our attention on the actual men and women fighting for their own freedom. Reidy offers us historians a seminal reminder: change is not made solely from on high.

By Joseph P. Reidy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As students of the Civil War have long known, emancipation was not merely a product of Lincoln's proclamation or of Confederate defeat in April 1865. It was a process that required more than legal or military action. With enslaved people fully engaged as actors, emancipation necessitated a fundamental reordering of a way of life whose implications stretched well beyond the former slave states. Slavery did not die quietly or quickly, nor did freedom fulfill every dream of the enslaved or their allies. The process unfolded unevenly.

In this sweeping reappraisal of slavery's end during the Civil War era, Joseph P.…


Book cover of Stolen Childhood: Slave Youth in Nineteenth-Century America

Seth Mallios Author Of Born a Slave, Died a Pioneer: Nathan Harrison and the Historical Archaeology of Legend

From my list on confronting slavery and how it impacts society today.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an archaeologist, anthropologist, and historian who has worked on both the East Coast (Flowerdew Hundred and Jamestown, Virginia) and West Coast (San Diego, California) of the U.S. and dug sites from the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, I am passionate about how archaeology can serve to offer new insights for marginalized peoples in American history. I specialize in exposing how narrow thinking, revisionism, and myth-making warp local histories and turn them into fabrications of the present. 

Seth's book list on confronting slavery and how it impacts society today

Seth Mallios Why did Seth love this book?

As a historical archaeologist, I find this book especially compelling. Stolen Childhood does a fine job of blending insights from a variety of primary-source narratives and recently uncovered archaeological artifacts; but these insights transcend the specific research questions regarding the conditions of daily life for slave youth in nineteenth-century America and indirectly make an intriguing case for why current archaeologists should pay as much attention to issues of childhood, parenting, and aging as they do to ethnicity, class, and gender.

By Wilma King,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the most important books published on slave society, Stolen Childhood focuses on the millions of children and youth enslaved in 19th-century America. This enlarged and revised edition reflects the abundance of new scholarship on slavery that has emerged in the 15 years since the first edition. While the structure of the book remains the same, Wilma King has expanded its scope to include the international dimension with a new chapter on the transatlantic trade in African children, and the book's geographic boundaries now embrace slave-born children in the North. She includes data about children owned by Native Americans…


Book cover of Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865

John C. Rodrigue Author Of Freedom's Crescent: The Civil War and the Destruction of Slavery in the Lower Mississippi Valley

From my list on emancipation during the U.S. Civil War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian who has always been fascinated by the problem of slavery in American history. Although a “Yankee” by birth and upbringing, I have also always been drawn to the history of the American South—probably because it runs so counter to the dominant narrative of U.S. history. My childhood interest in history—especially in wars, and the Civil War in particular—was transformed in college into a serious engagement with the causes and consequences of the Civil War. I pursued this interest in undertaking graduate study, and I have devoted my entire scholarly career to the examination of slavery and emancipation—and their consequences for today.

John's book list on emancipation during the U.S. Civil War

John C. Rodrigue Why did John love this book?

This epic study traces the destruction of slavery throughout the United States during the Civil War. James Oakes argues, provocatively, that the Civil War did not “become” a war against slavery, as most scholars maintain. Instead, Abraham Lincoln and other Republicans were committed to a war against slavery right from the start. Oakes roots Union emancipation policy in the prewar struggles over slavery, as that institution became an all-consuming issue in national politics. Once hostilities commenced, and as enslaved persons responded by seeking shelter behind Union military lines, Republicans were ready to put their emancipationist views into practice. I may not necessarily agree with Oakes’s argument, but his book is a monumental achievement and essential reading on the topic.

By James Oakes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Freedom National is a groundbreaking history of emancipation that joins the political initiatives of Lincoln and the Republicans in Congress with the courageous actions of Union soldiers and runaway slaves in the South. It shatters the widespread conviction that the Civil War was first and foremost a war to restore the Union and only gradually, when it became a military necessity, a war to end slavery. These two aims-"Liberty and Union, one and inseparable"-were intertwined in Republican policy from the very start of the war.

By summer 1861 the federal government invoked military authority to begin freeing slaves, immediately and…


Book cover of To Be a Slave in Brazil: 1550-1888

Manu Herbstein Author Of Ama, a Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade

From my list on the Transatlantic slave trade for serious scholars.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an engineer, I have constructed bridges, highways, and power plants throughout Africa, and on journeys learned and explored the continent's history. My novel, Ama, a Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade, won the 2002 Commonwealth Writers Prize for the Best First Book. My 200 plus sources, and excerpts from many of them, are listed on the companion website

Manu's book list on the Transatlantic slave trade for serious scholars

Manu Herbstein Why did Manu love this book?

In the introduction, dated July 1978, Mattoso writes. … my purpose in writing this book was to discover what life was really like for the slaves in Brazil … This book is addressed to an audience of general readers. I have therefore felt free to dispense with the usual scholarly apparatus of extensive footnotes and bibliography … Its title … signals my intention to adopt the standpoint of the slaves themselves … to trace the various stages in the lives of the slaves as individuals and of the slave group as a community.

By Katia M. de Queiros Mattoso,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked To Be a Slave in Brazil as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The book has the great advantage of placing the slave in the center of the history not simply as a type of labor, but as an actor whose culture, actions and decisions influenced the operation of the system... written with verve and grace for a general readership.


Book cover of Confederate Emancipation: Southern Plans to Free and Arm Slaves During the Civil War

Kevin M. Levin Author Of Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War's Most Persistent Myth

From my list on slavery and the confederacy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian and educator based in Boston. I have authored three books and numerous essays on the Civil War era. You can find my op-eds in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Daily Beast. Over the past few years, I have worked with students and teachers across the country to better understand the current controversy surrounding Confederate monuments.

Kevin's book list on slavery and the confederacy

Kevin M. Levin Why did Kevin love this book?

The Confederacy was consistent throughout most of the war that Black men could not be recruited to serve in the army as soldiers. This was a war to preserve slavery and white supremacy and Black enlisted men would have undermined the very justification for secession and the creation of a new nation. As the war entered its fourth year, however, more and more people realized that this policy was no longer tenable. Historian Bruce Levine offers a thorough analysis of the very public and bitterly divisive debate that took place throughout the Confederacy in 1864 over whether slaves could be recruited as soldiers. Confederates debated this subject in the capital of Richmond, in the army, and in countless newspapers. The question was clear: Should the Confederacy recruit Black men as a way to avoid defeat? That it took the Confederate government until mid-March 1865 to finally approve slave enlistment—much too…

By Bruce Levine,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In early 1864, as the Confederate Army of Tennessee licked its wounds after being routed at the Battle of Chattanooga, Major-General Patrick Cleburne (the "Stonewall of the West") proposed that "the most courageous of our slaves" be trained as soldiers and that "every slave in the South who shall remain true to the Confederacy in this war" be freed.
In Confederate Emancipation, Bruce Levine looks closely at such Confederate plans to arm and free slaves. He shows that within a year of Cleburne's proposal, which was initially rejected out of hand, Jefferson Davis, Judah P. Benjamin, and Robert E. Lee…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in slaves, liberty, and fugitive slaves?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about slaves, liberty, and fugitive slaves.

Slaves Explore 102 books about slaves
Liberty Explore 55 books about liberty
Fugitive Slaves Explore 22 books about fugitive slaves