Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters

undergroundThe most worrying element of this story is the plausibility of this scenario. What could have been and what could still be.

The topic of racism is at the forefront of society, as we watch the civil unrest in the US rise and the topic of refugees cause conflict in Europe.

The truth is racism has always been an underlying issue in the US. The civil movement, segregation and slavery isn’t really that long ago. So this story is en-vogue in a sense, and the premise is a red flag with absolutely realistic scenarios.

In this book slavery was never abolished. in fact it has become a well oiled industry. It is also supposedly a humane industry, but hey it’s slavery and greedy men will always exploit the vulnerable.

Instead of humane treatment, the slaves, known as PBL’s ‘person bound by labour’ suffer pain and humiliation at the hands of their captors. Some of them are even killed, despite it being illegal to do so.

Victor was once a PBL who escaped the injustice of his situation only to be forced into a new kind of slavery. He is what the Kapos were to the concentration camp inmates. He is a betrayer to his own people. It’s his job to hunt down the ones who are lucky enough to escape.

I like the fact Winters has had the gumption to take the idea back to the beginning of the end and change the historical narrative. This is what half of the country wanted and what it could possibly have evolved into under a different set of circumstances.

To be completely frank the Pigmentation Taxonomies really struck a chord with me. It or the descriptions bring the inhumanity of it all to the forefront: moderate charcoal, brass highlights #41, moderate chestnut, sunflower highlights #142 or twilight, purple tone #122.  It objectifies all of them in a way I can’t even begin to fathom and could never relate to.

Underground Airlines serves as a stark reminder of the race issues that simmer under the surface and how much damage the social philosophy of eugenics has caused and continues to cause. We are one race, the human race.

As I said, it’s a powerful thought-provoking premise and read.

Buy Underground Airlines at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

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