The Tubman Command: A Novel

The Tubman Command: A Novel

by Elizabeth Cobbs

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Overview

From the bestselling author of The Hamilton Affair,  a novel based on a thrilling chapter of Civil War history and African American history, how Harriet Tubman lead a Union raid to free 750 slaves.

It’s May 1863. Outgeneraled and outgunned, a demoralized Union Army has pulled back with massive losses at the Battle of Chancellorsville. Fort Sumter, hated symbol of the Rebellion, taunts the American navy with its artillery and underwater mines. 

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

The Tubman Command tells the story of Tubman at the height of her powers, when she devises the largest plantation raid of the Civil War. General David Hunter places her in charge of a team of black scouts even though skeptical of what one woman can accomplish. For her gamble to succeed, “Moses” must outwit alligators, overseers, slave catchers, sharpshooters, and even hostile Union soldiers to lead gunships up the Combahee River. Men stand in her way at every turn--though one reminds her that love shouldn’t have to be the price of freedom.

It’s the perfect read before going to see the big new movie about Harriet Tubman, Harriet (November 2019) starring Kasi Lemmons, Cynthia Erivo, and Janelle Monae.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781948924344
Publisher: Arcade
Publication date: 05/21/2019
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 212,653
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

An 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, which has been made into a musical. 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.

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The Tubman Command: A Novel 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Kittylou 15 days ago
While this is a well written, fictionalized version of Harriet Tubman's role in freeing slaves. It's well researched and detailed of the important work she did during slavery. While an unsettling story to read, it's an important part in history. The story covers all aspects of Harriet life not just the underground railroad, and I love to learn new facts! Such a strong and interesting woman! Strong 4 stars and any reader of civil war historical fiction will love this story!
Anonymous 3 months ago
I enjoy historical fiction, especially when, as this did, it recounts events with which I was unfamiliar. The author brought the people and the times to life, and I found myself indignant on Harriet's behalf at the lack of respect and lack of human dignity with which she was often treated. I appreciated that the author's note revealed how some parts of the novel (such as Kizzy's storyline), were inspired by small details from the historical record. I do wish there had been more information on what happened after the story. How many men enlisted? Did this help put an end to plantation culture in the area? What efforts, if any were made to help the newly freed ones start a new life? What I didn't like about this novel was the love story. I can't begin to imagine all the pain and complications that arise when humans are treated like livestock. Still, this love story had the ring of infidelity, so I could not enjoy that storyline. Thank you to BookishFirst for the early read.
Anonymous 3 months ago
I had been seeing/hearing a lot of buzz about this book, and I was excited to read it. I learned about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad when I was 4 or 5 and became obsessed with her story. Every year in school I did a report on her and in my 8th grade SEEK (now called gifted and talented) class I did a live action "report" where we had to pick a person to whom we liked or that inspired us or looked up to and so I of course picked Harriet. We had to make their favorite food dish to serve to people who came to our booths and answer all their questions as if we were the actual person we were portraying. Long story short I spent every day for 7 months researching her life and portrayed her 8 hours a week for 6 weeks. I should mention that I did NOT wear black face and just kept my unfortunate pasty a $$ skin tone haha But more importantly I’ve visited historic homes who had tunnels that claimed to be points on that infamous line and have stood in the darkened tunnel, aghast at the fear those poor people must have felt. But fear is what kept them pressing on. I've interviewed people whose grandparents/ great grandparents/ great great grandparents were saved by Harriet and to whom they wouldn't exist if not for her unyielding strength and determination and unfortunately this novel is so far from the mark its disheartening. Maybe I misunderstood and this wasnt suppose to be based in historical facts. Historical Fiction is one of my favorite genre's ever and I love when authors take their own interpretation, mix it with historical facts and create an amazing story. For instance Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer did a phenomenal job at just that. Whilst reading it you find yourself thinking "-omfg this could totally be how it happened" because of the accurate historical factor. Do vampires exist? No but did Lincoln call for silver to be melted down for the war?? YES. Did he lose his mother as a child? YES. did his son die as a small child to an unknown illness? YES so weaving in the vampire aspect with actual history is what makes it so fun. In my opinion this novel didn't accomplish that. It makes her out to be a love sick girl when she was an independent bad a $$ whose top priority was saving and helping others. I just feel like Harriet is one of the most admirable and heroic women to ever exist and this book didn't do her justice.
CLynnT 4 months ago
I’ve always been fascinated with the history and lore of Harriet Tubman. She deserves so much more attention and accolades in today’s world for a variety of reasons. Elizabeth Cobbs, a respected author of American history, shines a beautiful, truthful and loving light on Ms. Tubman in her new book, “The Tubman Command”. Ms. Cobbs details the courageous raid well behind enemy lines to free over 750 slaves, sneaking thru the enemy fire, friendly fire and underwater mines to carry out the Combahee River Raid, 1863, one of the most successful yet least remembered maneuvers of the Civil War. As I read, I learned. Even though I’ve been taught this era in History, I’ve respected its bleak lessons over the years; I still learned lesser known facts that should have stood at the forefront: the double standards, the unequal enforcement of humanitarian law, the sad reality of human angst. Elizabeth Cobbs breathes life into the past souls. (I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thank you to Skyhorse Publishing and NetGalley for making it available.)
Anonymous 4 months ago
This is a fictionalized version of Harriet Tubman's role in freeing slaves. It's set during the civil war. They are in the South, and she worked as a scout for the northern army. They also had black troops as well. Harriet had her own group of men that she led on missions to spy for the army. She never received compensation until 30 years later. After she escaped to freedom, she led a couple hundred slaves to freedom from Maryland. During the civil war, her plan led to almost 1,000 slaves to be freed. She had an assistant that ran her bake shop so that she could afford to go on her missions. It's an excellent story. If classrooms taught history in a factualized version of fiction, then more students would be ager to learn. They would also have a better understanding of how the climate and conditions of the time were.
Anonymous 4 months ago
This is a fictionalized version of Harriet Tubman's role in freeing slaves. It's set during the civil war. They are in the South, and she worked as a scout for the northern army. They also had black troops as well. Harriet had her own group of men that she led on missions to spy for the army. She never received compensation until 30 years later. After she escaped to freedom, she led a couple hundred slaves to freedom from Maryland. During the civil war, her plan led to almost 1,000 slaves to be freed. She had an assistant that ran her bake shop so that she could afford to go on her missions. It's an excellent story. If classrooms taught history in a factualized version of fiction, then more students would be ager to learn. They would also have a better understanding of how the climate and conditions of the time were.
MaryND 5 months ago
More like 3.5 stars. This is a hard review to write, because there’s a lot to like about this obviously well-researched, ably-written book about a woman who deserves to have more attention paid to her story. (In fact, I finished this book at the very moment I received a push notification saying that the Harriet Tubman $20 bill would not be in circulation for several years—if ever.) While it references Harriet Tubman’s more famous work freeing slaves through the “Underground Railroad,” The Tubman Command focuses on telling the less-known story of Tubman’s work as a scout for the Union Army during the Civil War, and particularly her connection to the Union’s daring raid up the Combahee River in South Carolina in an attempt to free one thousand slaves. I knew a little of the history and outcome of that raid before reading The Tubman Command, yet I still thought author Elizabeth Cobbs did a great job of building and maintaining suspense in her account of this action; this section of the book is a real page turner. What I thought was less successful—and what in fact undercut the book entirely for me—was Cobbs’ fictionalizing a love interest for Harriet, who we see throughout the novel pining for a man to hold her during the night. WHAT??! Was it really necessary to give this brave and intrepid woman—who was credited with a hundred confirmed slave rescues and who knows how many more; and who returned to the South, where there was a bounty on her head and a grisly death awaiting her if she was captured, to scout for the Union Army—some sort of romantic entanglement to, as the author says in her afterword, “humanize” her? Her drive to liberate as many of her fellow slaves as possible was humanizing enough—no man necessary. Pat Barker, who wrote the famous “Regeneration” trilogy featuring World War I poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen as well as psychiatrist William Rivers, once said in an interview that she had a strict rule: no sex for her historical figures. She saved that for her made-up characters, since she felt it unfair to speculate with actual people. I really wish Cobbs had followed this rule as well, and spared Tubman—and her otherwise entertaining and engaging book— from a romantic subplot that felt wholly unnecessary and a little demeaning. Thank you to NetGalley and Arcade Publishing for providing me with an ARC of this title in exchange for my honest review.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Taking place in South Carolina, 1863 The Tubman Command centers around Harriet Tubman, commander, military strategist and survivor who guided several men to freedom. I will admit that I know very little about Harriet Tubman and her efforts to rescue enslaved people, family and friends. In this novel Cobbs concentrates on Tubman’s lesser known missions as a spy for the Union army than focus on her life. Cobbs stuck with the dialect of the Africans living in South Carolina, which gave this story more authenticity. Cobbs really did her research to bring this fictional version of “Moses” aka Harriet Tubman to life. The one thing I could have done without was the romance. Not that it took away from the book, but I just didn’t feel it was necessary. Overall, I enjoyed this book and would recommend to others. Thank you, Netgalley & Skyhorse Publishing,for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. 3.5 out of 5
Anonymous 5 months ago
Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing Pub. Date: May 21, 2019 Mini Review The author of “The Hamilton Affair” writes another interesting historical novel, “The Tubman Command.” In this flawlessly researched novel, one learns of the lesser known heroic deeds of the black icon Harriet Tubman AKA Moses. Most people have heard of Tubman, for engineering the Underground Railroad and smuggling fugitive slaves from the South to the North. This novel veers away from that part of her life and instead concentrates on her lesser known missions as a spy for the Union army. Her efforts helped to turn the tide during the Civil War, which, as of May 1863, the North was losing. Cobbs keeps the writing authenticate in many ways, such as using the long-forgotten dialect of the Africans living in Hilton Head Island located in South Carolina. This is where Tubman and her scouts locate Rebel underwater mines. Adding to the appreciated realism, each chapter begins with an actual documented and often moving quote from a general, a colonel, a scout or a slave regarding Moses’ extraordinary talents. The author shines brightest when she brings focus on the human side of the famous woman. The story fluctuates between Harriet's determined dedication to freeing people from slavery and her sense of burden and loss in her personal life. She left her first husband to pursue her own freedom and outlived her second husband. The author allows her heroine a love affair which in the endnote admits is pure fiction. This sexual relationship may not have been needed other than to reach an audience who simply want romance in their stories. Still, Cobbs emphasizes that although her real-life protagonist was a lonely woman, she knew she was equal, or more probably, superior to any man, black or white. Tubman is one of America’s first extraordinary female leaders. That alone makes this a book worth reading.
Bookish_Brittany 5 months ago
This booksdescribes a little known raid conducted by the Union Army and a well known woman during the Civil War. Harriet Tubman, also known as Moses, worked with the Union during the war to free as many slaves as possible. This book recounts the amazing raid up the Combahee River deep in Confederate territory in order to free more than 750 slaves at one time. The book also details Harriet's personal life and struggles that led to her becoming one of the most important women in American history. This book is based on her life and her efforts during the Civil War, with most events portrayed actually factual, but also with some fictional events and people added into the narrative. Overall, I enjoyed this book very much. Harriet Tubman has fascinated me since I was a little girl, and I jumped at the chance to read this book. The narrative was well done, descriptive, and realistic, and Harriet was very easy to empathize with. The depiction of the raid at the end gave me actual chills and made me shed a few tears. One thing I didn't care for was the invented affair Harriet had in the book with a fellow worker. I can understand the need to add people and details to a historical fiction narrative, but it especially bothers me when major events are invented, whether or not they actually happened (especially when they are of an immoral or questionable nature). That being said, I enjoyed this book very much and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley's Bookish First program. A positive review was not required, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.
MonnieR 5 months ago
During all of my years at a public school in rural southwestern Ohio in the 1950s, it was a man's world. I don't recall learning a thing about any women who made history other than Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (well okay, maybe Betsy Ross, who earned 13 stars for her work). Once I got out and about, graduated from college and joined the ranks of the feminist movement, though, that changed. The area to which I moved (and have spent the rest of my life so far) boasts stops on the Underground Railroad, and I soon became familiar with other suffragette names like Harriet Taylor Upton and Harriet Tubman (notably, the Upton House, her home from 1887 to 1931 and now a museum, is in Warren, Ohio - just a few miles from my home). Given that proximity and my longstanding commitment to women's rights, then, I was delighted to have an opportunity to read an advance copy of this book. I knew a bit about Tubman's work with the Underground Railroad; but until now, I had no clue as to her very important work as a spy for the Union Army. In fact, as detailed in this book, Gen. David Hunter put her in charge of directing and leading the largest plantation raid of the entire Civil War. Reluctantly, she had left her husband and child to carry on her mission, even while knowing that what the future held was nothing short of daunting. Known far and wide as "Moses," she already was a wanted woman who no doubt would be put to death if captured; nonetheless, she was determined to get behind enemy lines to set bondsmen free and recruit them to fight for the Union cause. The research it must have taken to even begin pulling together a book like this is amazing to me (and as a journalist, I've got more than a passing acquaintance with the process). Turning that mountain of information into an educational yet highly readable format makes it all the more special. Although it is based on facts, it is a novel; the author does an outstanding job of adding details and emotion-filled dialogue that bring the story to life and make it far more interesting than a dry rendition in a history textbook. In short, well done and highly recommended.
kmg7777 5 months ago
The Tubman Command centers around Harriet Tubman as she scouts and helps guide a raid on plantations in the Sea Islands area of South Carolina during a time when Union spirits were low in the Civil War. Cobbs does an excellent job of building the setting and using historical documents to describe an actual event; putting Tubman in a lead role and surrounding her with other people that were part of the fight to end slavery. She also manages to somehow pull off both a stoical and emotional telling of the hardships that slaves faced - never getting too maudlin, but instead forcing you to realize the atrocities these people faced and how they had to face them with their heads held high, when many of us today would break if we faced something similar. While there are moments where I wished that I could "know" Harriet better, the author draws attention to what was likely a challenge for the real life woman. Could she be a symbol to people, and still at heart be her own person?
Angie0184 5 months ago
Cobbs has hit this one out of the park, bringing Harriet Tubman to life through historical fiction in a way I've not read before. Each chapter begins with quotes taken from actual documentation of the time, from freed people, Army men, missionaries, etc. Although she takes a lot of license with the personal details, as Ms. Tubman could neither read nor write and didn't keep a diary, the historical events in the book, such as an even of thievery, and a rescue mission of more than 700 slaves on the Combahee actually occurred, and there are historical documents that indicate she was not only involved, but led the scouts that brought about the events. This book is moving, beautifully written, heartbreaking, and brings that time to life right off the page in painful detail. She truly was the Moses of her people. Elegantly written.
onemused 5 months ago
"The Tubman Command" is an intriguing historical fiction that follows Harriet Tubman during a month of 1963. She's an interesting woman, not always fully portrayed in the history books. Harriet worked to help strategize with the north to fight during the war, and this is the primary premise of the book. While the overall story is grounded in as much fact as possible, some elements were of course added to make a better read (including the romance). While the book gets off to a slow start, the pace soon picks up, and it becomes quite a great historical fiction read. Harriet really leaps off the page as a unique person, although she must frequently justify to others her identity. As Moses, they expect a man and are often surprised to find her. However, she is quite clever and used to such assumptions. I would enjoy reading more about her life and many critical actions. Overall, this is an interesting historical fiction that brings Harriet Tubman to life in a new way. I highly recommend for anyone who enjoys this genre. Please note that I received a copy through bookish first. All opinions are my own.
rendezvous_with_reading 5 months ago
When the name Harriet Tubman is mentioned, what comes to my mind is "Moses" of the Underground Railroad. But, in this novel, the author choses to focus on Harriet's time as a spy and scout for the Union army during the Civil War. It proves to be an amazing chapter in her outstanding life. In May of 1863, Harriet is in charge of a team of black scouts spying out plantation properties along the Combahee River near Beaufort, South Carolina. She convinces Union army leaders to carry out a naval raid up the river to destroy crops and free slaves, thereby weakening the Confederate supply chain. Harriet and the South are brought to life in these pages with such great description; I felt as though I could smell the river water and hear the mosquitos. As she and her scouts spy and prepare for the raid, the tension builds. Whether artfully dodging patrollers looking for runaway slaves or avoiding alligators in the river, this was tense and dangerous work. By the time I reached the chapters involving the actual raid, I was on pins and needles. The action was so well written, I could easily visualize the scene unfolding. Though Harriet's legacy of achievements had to be rewarding, this novel helps me appreciate how mentally burdensome it might have been for her to carry the heartbreak and guilt from those that she couldn't save. I've always been a bit enthralled with Harriet since writing a term paper about her in school, so I'm glad to see her get some well deserved attention in this novel. Prepare yourself to love this amazing woman.