One of our recommended books for 2019 is The Tubman Command by Elizabeth Cobbs

THE TUBMAN COMMAND

A Novel


It’s May 1863 and America is soaked with blood. Following massive losses at the Battle of Chancellorsville, the Union Army is exhausted and outgunned. Fort Sumter looms menacingly, guarding the birthplace of the Rebellion with underwater mines and artillery.

In Beaufort, South Carolina, one very special woman is hatching a spectacular plan. Hunted by Confederates, revered by slaves, Harriet Tubman plots a bold and dangerous expedition behind enemy lines to liberate hundreds of bondsmen, recruit them as soldiers, and turn the tide. A bounty on her head, she has given up everything for the noblest cause: a nation of,

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It’s May 1863 and America is soaked with blood. Following massive losses at the Battle of Chancellorsville, the Union Army is exhausted and outgunned. Fort Sumter looms menacingly, guarding the birthplace of the Rebellion with underwater mines and artillery.

In Beaufort, South Carolina, one very special woman is hatching a spectacular plan. Hunted by Confederates, revered by slaves, Harriet Tubman plots a bold and dangerous expedition behind enemy lines to liberate hundreds of bondsmen, recruit them as soldiers, and turn the tide. A bounty on her head, she has given up everything for the noblest cause: a nation of, by, and for the people.

The Tubman Command by Elizabeth Cobbs, brings Harriet Tubman to life at the moment of her greatest gamble. Cobbs, author of the bestselling The Hamilton Affair, has taken yet another iconic figure from American history and crafted a story rich in emotional depth and astonishing realism. With Tubman as the face of the campaign to put a famous American woman on the twenty-dollar bill by 2020, interest in her story has never been higher.

The rigors of the Underground Railroad have proven Tubman a whip-smart survivor, strategist, and escape artist. Recruited by the Union Army, the diminutive and inconspicuous spy known as “Moses” leads a team of black scouts up South Carolina’s Combahee River to find a hole in Southern defenses through which Union gunships can sail. Among them is one Samuel Heyward, a runaway who works his way into her guarded heart through his strength and devotion.

Yet Tubman expects these men to underestimate her. It’s what they’ve always done — and why she is the perfect spy.

It’s Samuel Heyward who helps see Tubman to safe shores. A decade earlier she’d sacrificed home and husband to obtain freedom, yet independence also brings loneliness and isolation. Heyward reminds Moses of love’s power to light even the most desolate times and – terrifyingly – how it can become yet another thing to lose.

The larger than life figures of our textbooks leap to life in Cobbs’ capable hands – their losses, loves, and labors as fresh as any modern tale starring a brave and vulnerable heroine. From one of American history’s darkest periods, The Tubman Command reveals the bone-deep ache of liberty denied, paying tribute to Tubman’s valiant undertaking with the twists and turns of a master storyteller.

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  • Arcade Publishing
  • Hardcover
  • May 2019
  • 336 Pages
  • 9781948924344

Buy the Book

$25.99

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About Elizabeth Cobbs

Elizabeth Cobbs is the author of The Tubman CommandAn award-winning novelist, historian, and documentary filmmaker, Elizabeth Cobbs is the author of eight books, including the New York Times bestselling novel, The Hamilton Affair, and The Hello Girls: America’s First Women Soldiers. Elizabeth earned her Ph.D. in American history at Stanford University. She holds the Melbern Glasscock Chair at Texas A&M University and is a Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. She lives in La Mesa, California.

Praise

“Elizabeth Cobbs writes with the expertise of an historian and the intimacy and immediacy of a gifted novelist.” —Stephen Harrington, author of A Friend of Mr. Lincoln

“If you think you know all about Harriet Tubman, think again—this novel brings her alive as only fiction can. With a historian’s grasp of detail, Elizabeth Cobbs spins a gripping tale of romance, wartime spies, and daring escapes. The story of Harriet Tubman’s leadership of black troops behind enemy lines, The Tubman Command illuminates the unfathomable brav- ery of people fighting for liberty and the birth of a better nation. Harriet emerges from these pages as a brilliant strategist, master of psychology, and a fully-rounded woman whose legend- ary heroism has made her a cherished American icon.” —Kate Manning, author, My Notorious Life

“Cobbs is that rare writer who possesses both the uncanny eye of the historian and the dynamism of a natural storyteller. By the last chapter I was breathless and near tears, captivated by the true tale of one woman who railed against injustice and changed the course of history.” —Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Masterpiece

“A phenomenal piece of writing which humanizes one of America’s most beloved icons and shows a different side of a woman whom many think they already know.” — Edda L. Fields-Black, author of ‘Combee’: Harriet Tubman and the Combahee River Raid (Forthcoming)

“Cobbs paints a vivid portrait of Tubman at the heart of one of the most innovative, daring, and dangerous missions of the Civil War. The heroic and brilliant Tubman is brought vividly to life as a flesh-and-blood woman and a strong and cunning leader in this compelling and instructive fictional tribute.” Booklist

Discussion Questions

1. Harriet Tubman chose to leave her first husband. Whom does she fault for the ruin of that marriage? Do you agree?

2. What effect did their break-up have on Harriet?

3. How does being a woman complicate Harriet’s experience as a leader? What are some of her techniques for coping with male superiors—and subordinates?

4. For Harriet, what is the price and what are the rewards of leadership?

5. How did mothers and fathers experience slavery differently? What sorrows did they face in common?

6. Harriet’s memories of her sisters surface repeatedly. What role do they play in her life?

7. Harriet feels guilt in relation to her daughter. Do you think her doubts and regrets are justified? Might a male soldier feel differently?

8. Harriet falls in love with a married man. What are the sources of her ambivalence? What is the correct moral course?

9. What does “freedom to love” mean to a person in Samuel’s situation? Why was marriage so complicated for those who were enslaved and then freed? Did Samuel have just one right choice?

10. Thomas Wentworth Higginson and James Montgomery disagree about how to treat Southern plantation owners. Can you see both men’s points of view? Which approach do you think has a stronger basis in morality?

11. Is it true that “all’s fair in love and war?

12. No one who was enslaved had protection, but the experience could affect men and women differently. None of Harriet’s sisters made it to safety. What insights does this give us into how gender influenced the experience of slavery?

13. Discuss Septima, Walter, and Kizzy. What does the reader learn about Harriet from her relationships with them?

14. Harriet Tubman exhibited uncommon valor. Could anyone do what she did? Why or why not?

15. Is Harriet Tubman a Christ-like figure? Does she want to be?

16. The Ten Commandments say, “Thou shall not bear false witness.” Harriet Tubman deceives enemies, friends, and family. Why, in each case? How does this affect her?

17. Discuss Tubman’s physical disability. What does it tell the reader about her?

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