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Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Pitts's (Before I Forget) bleakly powerful novel explores slavery's legacy through Sam, a Philadelphia freedman, who takes on a new name and returns to the post-Civil War South to find the wife he had left behind 15 years earlier. Pitts also weaves in the story of an impetuous white Bostonian, whose good intentions to combat the effects of slavery lead to disaster. The two story lines become entwined at the very end in Mississippi, but along the way the author informs us of how slavery twisted the psyche of Americans of all races. Love, politics, terror, murder, and deceit are deftly mixed to illustrate the confusion and pain that followed the end of our national conflict. Verdict For anyone who might doubt how demeaning slavery was or wonder why the effects still haunt us today, this is the novel to read.-W. Keith McCoy, Somerset Cty. Lib. Syst., Bridgewater, NJ (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.