' Master Slave Husband Wife ' by IIyon Woo : In 1848, Ellen and William Craft, an enslaved couple in Georgia, made a daring escape north disguised as a sickly young white planter and his male slave. Ellen as the wealthy scion in stovepipe hat, dark green glasses and a sling over her right arm to conceal her illiteracy.

Improbably, despite close calls and determined slave catchers, the Crafts succeeded in their flight, going on to tour the abolitionist speaker circuit in England and to write a popular account of their journey.

Their story, which a leading abolitionist called ''one of the most thrilling in the nation's annals,'' is remarkable enough.

But Woo's immersive rendering, which conjures the Crafts' escape in novelistic detail, is equally a feat - of research, storytelling, sympathy and insight.

EXCERPT : It is predawn Macon, Georgia, and at four o'clock, the city does not move. The air is windless, chill, barely stirring the high, dark pines.

Cotton Avenue is quiet too, the giant weighing scales suspended, for the moment, behind closed warehouse doors. But the Ocmulgee River flows along the eastern shore, and so too, an enslaved couple moves, ready to transform, in a cabin in the shadow of a tall, white mansion.

The World Students Society thanks The New York Times.


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