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Publisher's Summary

A startling and eye-opening look into America's first family, Never Caught is the powerful narrative of Ona Judge, George and Martha Washington's runaway slave who risked it all to escape the nation's capital and reach freedom.

When George Washington was elected president, he reluctantly left behind his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation's capital. In setting up his household, he took Tobias Lear, his celebrated secretary, and eight slaves, including Ona Judge, about which little has been written. As he grew accustomed to Northern ways, there was one change he couldn't get his arms around: Pennsylvania law required enslaved people be set free after six months of residency in the state. Rather than comply, Washington decided to circumvent the law. Every six months he sent the slaves back down south, just as the clock was about to expire.

Though Ona Judge lived a life of relative comfort, the few pleasantries she was afforded were nothing compared to freedom, a glimpse of which she encountered firsthand in Philadelphia. So, when the opportunity presented itself one cold spring day in Philadelphia, Judge left everything she knew to escape to New England. Yet freedom would not come without its costs.

At just 22 years old, Ona became the subject of an intense manhunt led by George Washington, who used his political and personal contacts to recapture his property.

Impeccably researched, historian Erica Armstrong Dunbar weaves a powerful tale and offers fascinating new scholarship on how one young woman risked it all to gain freedom from the famous founding father.

©2017 Erica Armstrong Dunbar (P)2017 Simon & Schuster

What members say

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

So happy to have been introduced to Ms. Judge!

Ms. Judge's story needed to be told and remembered in our country's history. For one, it's a great heroic tale of taking one's destiny in one's own hands. It also provides more insight into Washington's attitude towards slavery.

But let's face it, the amount of information that the author knew about Ms. Judge's situation could have been written in an (extensive) article rather than a book. The book relies too heavily on generalizations and imagined scenarios. Perhaps more research and specific knowledge of Judge's situation would have been appropriate.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful audiobook

This book kept my attention the entire time. The narrator did a great job. I've read a few books about George Washington and have always admired him. I still have great respect for the Washington family but this book gave me an entirely different perspective. Well done!

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Good research, but a lot of filler.

Great story and good research. However, many same things said 5 different ways surrounded by filler.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • D-Chubb
  • New York,, New York, US
  • 10-15-17

Ona's later life

For the most part the book was well written. However, there were chapters which focused on people other than Ona, particularly the last chapter. While it's heartening to hear of William Costin's ability to free members of his family, it took away the momemtum of Ona's narrative. What happened to Ona after her narrow escape from Washington's relative? How did Mr. Stains die? What happened to her children? If that information isn't known, then that should have been expressed. The title of the book suggests it is about her exclusively.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Very informative!

This read like a mix between non fiction and fiction. It really shattered my beliefs about Washington. I naively held him on a pedestal and I am always glad when history sets my beliefs straight.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Slavery in George Washington's World

A necessary telling of the hidden history of the founding of the USA and the first president.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Must-read for lovers of history.

Dunbar's beautiful, stirring storytelling of Ona Judge's life and quest for freedom is a must-read for historians and history "buffs" alike. Or really, anyone interested in real life and death situations. Dunbar captures life in colonial and early Virginia, Philadelphia, and New England for enslaved people and slaveowners. Robin Miles's smooth narration brings the words off the page and brings out the emotions and environment of 18th century life. This book will make you care about history, and makes me want to be a better writer.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Black history is so important

I enjoyed listening to this incredible story of Ona Judge Stains and her incredible journey.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A piece of unknown history

This production was very well done. The story was one that kept wanting to listen into the night.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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my first historical book

a great story and a good insight into African-American life in slavery a true unsung hero

1 of 1 people found this review helpful