Young Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Conditions are harsh for all the slaves there, but especially grim for her: an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood--where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a slave who has recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. In Whitehead's ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor: engineers and conductors operate a secret network of actual tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Unable to find a safe haven, Cora continues on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom. As in Gulliver's Travels, she encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey--hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors of the antebellum era, he seamlessly weaves in the saga of America, from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is both the gripping tale of one woman's will to escape the horrors of bondage and a powerful meditation on the history we all share.