This Is the Week That Was: FIVE FOR FREEDOM is here and now!

I’m proud to report that the e-book version of FIVE FOR FREEDOM: The African American Soldiers in John Brown’s Army is #3 on Amazon’s list of hot new releases in the abolition category!  Last time I looked.

The Amazon rankings are as changeable as the weather, hot one moment, cooler the next.

At the start of my new book’s first week of publication, it ranked for a brief time in the top 100 for hardcover books on abolition and African American history.  In the e-book categories, it soared to #23 and #24. By week’s end, it still ranked #4 in “hot new releases” on abolition.

According to Amazon, its rankings are based on sales and updated hourly. Looking at them can become addictive, like checking your stock portfolio several times a day, or, worse, Twitter and Facebook feeds obsessively.

Someone told me that 40 reviews on Amazon boost your sales prospects. So far, my book has one review. It is stellar. Five stars!  Much better than five reviews with one star! (Update: Make that two, five-star reviews!) Go figure.

But some of these review numbers make me suspicious. Granted, Twelve Years a Slave, Solomon Northrup’s 1853 memoir of his years in bondage, made into a 2013 film that won three  Academy Awards, is a big deal.  The e-book ranks #32—and costs 99 cents. Could price be a factor?

But did 7,277 individuals really take the time to post reviews?   Makes me wonder.

Then there is the audiobook.  It costs almost as much as the hardcover edition.  Total listening time is nine hours and four minutes.  Good for a drive to Maine, or Canada, or Gary, Indiana.

I do hope FIVE FOR FREEDOM is a compelling narrative, whether read out loud or silently.  Beyond which, it is an opportunity to escape from the trials of the present to the trials of the past.

The raid on Harpers Ferry in October 1859 is often cited as the catalyst to the Civil War that followed about a year and a half later. The African American Soldiers in John Brown’s Army have long been forgotten and overshadowed by John Brown, their martyred leader.

It is long past time that they got their due – in hardcover, e-book or audiobook. The stats are less important than the story. Do tell, you say?  Yes, I do tell.  Do read all about it—or listen to it.

To learn more, watch this C-SPAN filming of a talk I gave on May 19 at the Gaithersburg Book Festival, listen to my interview on WPFW-FM (Community Comment, Monday, June 4, 40:57 minutes) or catch my presentation at Politics and Prose on June 2 (coming soon to the P&P You Tube channel).

And feel free to purchase (and review it) online or from your local “legacy” bookstore.


  1. Jean Libby on June 9, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    This important story (five stories) do need a place in American history, the Civil War era, African American history, Multicultural Studies.
    I have not received my review copy yet so cannot make a review. (Learned that the hard way when Mary Brown’s “biography” was published as “The Tie that Bound Us: John Brown’s Family and the Legacy of Radical Abolitionism” by Cornell University Press in 2013 Bonnie Laughlin-Schultz, author). Poorly researched years before publication, in a hurry with a grant, then written with a bias against John Brown. I am lavishly credited as a source.
    When you have my review it will be based on the actual book, and from my knowledge of the subjects which were so frequently sought during your writing.
    Good luck with the Amazon statistics. It’s time for your hard work and expertise in many fields to be recognized.

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