Why did I listen to Black Cloud Rising?
I came across Black Cloud Rising on Netgalley at the beginning of the month. Knowing my goal for this month was to read several books by black authors, I was quick to request it. I was also intrigued by the subject matter: the African Brigade. Thankfully I was approved and quickly started listening to it.
What’s the story here?
Black Cloud Rising follows the journey of the African Brigade during the Civil War. The African Brigade is a unit of former slaves who have been tasked to liberate enslaved people and hunt down Confederate guerilla units. All of this takes place within the swamps and backwoods of Southeast Virginia and Northeast Carolina. It is told from the perspective of Sergent Richard Etherlidge whose father is the master of the house where he was enslaved. As he and his fellow soldiers move forward there is always the risk of death hanging over them. There is also the risk of running into someone from their past – be it former slave owners, family members, significant others, and even sworn enemies. These former slaves are working hard to break their shackles and be truly free. They are depending on each other to process their worth.
How did I like Black Cloud Rising?
Black Cloud Rising takes you through so many emotions as you listen to how these men and women went from being enslaved to free and helping then union. The African Brigade is formed and sets out from Portsmouth, VA to extinguish the threat of rebel guerillas. Through the narration of Sergeant Richard Etheridge, you gain an understanding of how conflicted the Brigade is to go up against their former owners. You also understand their familiarity with the land and their desire to rescue family and loved ones. I could feel the intensity or their struggles throughout. Especially Richard who was already towing a fine line as a semi privileged slave who knew how to read and write.
Yet even with this privilege Richard recognized how he was also put back in his place if he got too pushy. Now as a member of the Brigade he feels an entirely different level of push. This is a push to prove himself, a push to belong, and a push to take care of his fellow soldiers and the ones he loves. It is all very compelling and gave him another perspective of American history that is often not talked about. I couldn’t help but feel for Richard and his fellow former slaves. It was all very heart-rending and heart-rending at the same time.
How’s the narration?
Black Cloud Rising is narrated by James Shippy and is 9 hours and 18 minutes long. I listened to it at 1.5 speed and felt that it flowed very well. I was engaged in the storyline and could invision everything in my head. It sounded authentic to the time period and the topic at hand. There are a couple sections that may be difficult to hear but were accurate to the time period. This includes the language, the violence, and the death that was part of the Civil War. To me, these sections needed to be included to the story to be truly authentic, and it is so well done.
Rating: 4 Stars
**I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**
Audiobook layout courtesy of Good Books and Good Wine.