Thursday, 29 November 2018

TLC BOOK TOUR: The Long Way Home by Kevin Bannister

Title:  The Long Way Home
Genre: Historical Fiction, Based on Real Events
Author:  Kevin Bannister
Format:  Digital
Publication Date:  September 15, 2016
Follows the lives of Thomas Peters and Murphy Steele who are friends, former slaves, fellows-in-arms and leaders of the Black Brigade. Their real-life story is an epic adventure tale as they battle bounty hunters, racism, poverty and epidemic in their adopted country after the war.

'The Long Way Home' has resonated with readers around the world as an unforgettable account of courage, hope and determination triumphing over despair and injustice. Thomas Peters, thoughtful and charismatic, and Murphy Steele, strong and impulsive, lead their followers on an inspirational search for a place where they can  be free.

My Thoughts
In an impetuous spur of the moment a young Murphy Steele runs with Thomas Peters in an attempt to escape their slave owner. Naivety and lack of planning result in their speedy recapture and sadistic scarring punishment. Quietly seething with resentment and vengeful notions Murphy is obsessed with murder and escape. He has become a frighteningly dangerous, powerfully strong brooding young man. Quite the reverse in attitude has happened to Thomas, now he wants to stay out of trouble and live as safe a life he can, even if that means being an obedient slave...One day circumstances will be right for them to run again.

It is through Murphy’s, at times, rather dry narrative but engaging conversational style that their experiences are shared with us as we follow them in pursuit of regaining freedom.  Two runaway slaves, two unsung heroes, with promises of becoming freemen with land of their own, fought bravely alongside the British Army in the American Revolutionary War. As soldiers they led their men in the ‘Black Pioneers’ unit into horrific bloody battle.  Victory was not delivered and the men who survived faced a difficult choice, to remain as slaves or leave for an uncertain future with the British.

I’ve read a few different titles, fiction and non fiction about the slave trade but not one which gives such a vivid in-depth enlightening perspective from two men such as Thomas Peters who had an influence on many fellow freed slaves some of whom he persuaded to return to Africa where they founded the state of Freetown; and Murphy Steele who was a key component in rounding up Black volunteers to accompany him to Nova Scotia where, once again promised by the British, they would be supplied with everything needed to build a new free state for themselves. This is where the sequel (currently in progress) will pick up from. I sincerely hope it won’t be too long in coming to publication.

Unquestionably brave, charismatic and highly influential men of their time, Bannister’s well researched historical novel gives them a real presence and voice to speak to and remind us about injustice prejudice and the cruelty of enslavement, of denying a race basic human rights and who are deemed an expendable piece of property, of the horror of war, and the reminder that as humans we are fundamentally a selfish animal which will usually choose the best course of action to benefit us personally, culturally and racially, that we will utilise treachery, betrayal or indifference as a means to that end.

The times they haven’t changed that much !

Highly recommended.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary digital copy of the book for my thoughts to be included in this tour. Thank you to the author and TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read and take part.

Similar reads:
The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
KINTU, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
Sugar Money, Jane Harris
Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward
Underground Airlines, Ben E Winters
12 Years a Slave, Solomon Northup (memoir)
Black Boy, Richard Wright (non fiction)
The Free State of Jones, Victoria E Bynam (non fiction)