Published this past fall to considerable praise, University of Maryland historian Richard Bell’s Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home (Simon & Schuster) tells some newly revealed 19th-century US history by recounting the story of five boys kidnapped in the north, and smuggled by shady traffickers towards enslavement. This was 1825. This also was the Reverse Underground Railroad.
“’BOY LOST,’ read the advertisement placed in a newspaper by the father of one of the five free boys kidnapped in Philadelphia in 1825. Richard Bell’s heartbreaking and searing account of their story chronicles not only the agonies and atrocities of slavery, but the fragility of freedom, and the dauntlessness of resistance.” - Jill Lepore.
“Opening an unknown world from an unsung tragedy that started in early national Philadelphia and stretched grimly South, Stolen offers a worm’s eye view of the leviathan of American slavery, and of some of its most dastardly perpetrators and its most remarkable survivors. Richard Bell has researched inventively and mastered a vast body of scholarship, as we would expect from so distinguished a historian. But he also imbues his tale with the deep humanity of a great novelist. Both riveting and heartrending, Stolen joins the great literature of America’s founding tragedy, earning a place alongside the work of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Edward P. Jones, and Toni Morrison.” – Jane Kamensky.