Actor Mahershala Ali (House of Cards, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay) performs the gripping tale of an armed band of Confederate deserters and slaves living in a mixed-race community who rose up against the Confederate Cavalry in 1863 to form their own republic, free of slavery, in what is now the state of Mississippi. The community they formed - and the ambiguous racial identity of their descendants - confounded the rules of the segregated South well into the 20th century.
In bridging the gap between the legendary and the real Free State of Jones, author Victoria Bynum unwraps the legend - what was told, what was embellished, and what was left out.
"[T]he original book is even more explosive than the film adaptation....It's read by House of Cards and Hunger Games: Mockingjay actor Mahershala Ali (who's also appearing in the upcoming Luke Cage series on Netflix, as well as [the film] Free State of Jones), whose rumbling baritone makes for an addictive listen. Since he's not currently reading every audiobook in existence, as we'd prefer, we'll have to settle for this one." [A.V. Club]
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I really wanted to like it, but...
Perhaps the story is more coherent and lively for someone reading the book to herself. I found it hard to keep up with all the details of names, dates, and relations by listening to the book. It came across more as a textbook than an impassioned story of untold history.
I was excited to see that Mahershala Ali was the narrator as I am a big fan of his film and TV work. I was greatly disappointed to listen to his narration though. His voice was monotone and the reading lacked the emotional emphasis required to make the story more interesting.
I'm not sure if it was the boring narration that made the book seem dry, or a lack of emotional connection the author's telling of facts that made the listening difficult, but either way I was disappointed.
Like another reviewer, I found the book difficult to listen to from the very beginning. I forced myself to keep listening, thinking that surely the characters would eventually become more interesting or that the story itself would become more riveting. I have a strong interest in history, and even have ancestors from nearby Jones County who lived during the same time period as those in the book. Nonetheless, I still couldn't make a personal connection to this book.
Stirring Defiance Against Southern Tyranny
- W Perry Hall