Night Flyer

Harriet Tubman and the Faith Dreams of a Free People

Author Tiya Miles
Series edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
From the National Book Award–winning author of All That She Carried, an intimate and revelatory reckoning with the myth and the truth behind an American everyone knows and few really understand

Harriet Tubman is among the most famous Americans ever born and soon to be the face of the twenty-dollar bill. Yet often she’s a figure more out of myth than history, almost a comic-book superhero. Despite being barely five feet tall, unable to read, and suffering from a brain injury, she managed to escape from her own enslavement, return again and again to lead others north to freedom without loss of life, speak out powerfully against slavery, and then become the first American woman in history to lead a military raid, freeing some seven hundred people. You could almost say she’s America’s Robin Hood, a miraculous vision, often rightly celebrated but seldom understood.

Tiya Miles’s extraordinary Night Flyer changes all that. With her characteristic tenderness and imaginative genius, Miles explores beyond the stock historical grid to weave Tubman’s life into the fabric of her world. She probes the ecological reality of Tubman’s surroundings and examines her kinship with other enslaved women who similarly passed through a spiritual wilderness and recorded those travels in profound and moving memoirs. What emerges, uncannily, is a human being whose mysticism becomes more palpable the more we understand it—a story that offers us powerful inspiration for our own time of troubles. Harriet Tubman traversed many boundaries, inner and outer. Now, thanks to Tiya Miles, she becomes an even clearer and sharper signal from the past, one that can help us to echolocate a more just and sustainable path.
“Drawing on and extending accounts of Harriet Tubman’s life and memories, Tiya Miles’s Night Flyer situates Tubman as a thinker, dreamer, and doer. An intellectual, physical, and spiritual force embedded in multiple worlds—ecological, geographical, familial, dream, and spiritual—acquiring and acting on knowledge drawn from each of them. Beautifully conceived and written, Night Flyer speaks powerfully of the worlds Tubman navigated and refused, and to our own perilous times.”
Christina Sharpe, author of Ordinary Notes

Night Flyer anchors Harriet Tubman to the faith and ferocity that has made her beloved by generations of Americans. Tiya Miles continues to captivate readers with her luminous prose, her riveting attention to detail, and her continuing genius to bring the past to life. With imaginative engagement, she has offered us a window onto the world inhabited by Tubman and her people, and its crucial legacy for us today.”
Catherine Clinton, author of Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom


“Transcending the boundaries of literary genre and academic discipline, Miles provides a brilliant meditation on the many worlds of Harriet Tubman—environmental, social, interior. Night Flyer is also a lyrical praise song to Tubman and those Black women preachers who melded religious faith with physical courage to fight for the liberation of Black bodies, minds, and spirits. A stunning achievement.” 
Jacqueline Jones, author of No Right to an Honest Living: The Struggles of Boston’s Black Workers in the Civil War Era
© Stephanie Mitchell
Tiya Miles is the Michael Garvey Professor of History at Harvard University, the author of five prizewinning works on the history of slavery and early American race relations, and a 2011 MacArthur Fellowship recipient. She was the founder and director of the Michigan-based ECO Girls program, and she is the author of the National Book Award–winning, New York Times bestselling All That She Carried. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. View titles by Tiya Miles

About

From the National Book Award–winning author of All That She Carried, an intimate and revelatory reckoning with the myth and the truth behind an American everyone knows and few really understand

Harriet Tubman is among the most famous Americans ever born and soon to be the face of the twenty-dollar bill. Yet often she’s a figure more out of myth than history, almost a comic-book superhero. Despite being barely five feet tall, unable to read, and suffering from a brain injury, she managed to escape from her own enslavement, return again and again to lead others north to freedom without loss of life, speak out powerfully against slavery, and then become the first American woman in history to lead a military raid, freeing some seven hundred people. You could almost say she’s America’s Robin Hood, a miraculous vision, often rightly celebrated but seldom understood.

Tiya Miles’s extraordinary Night Flyer changes all that. With her characteristic tenderness and imaginative genius, Miles explores beyond the stock historical grid to weave Tubman’s life into the fabric of her world. She probes the ecological reality of Tubman’s surroundings and examines her kinship with other enslaved women who similarly passed through a spiritual wilderness and recorded those travels in profound and moving memoirs. What emerges, uncannily, is a human being whose mysticism becomes more palpable the more we understand it—a story that offers us powerful inspiration for our own time of troubles. Harriet Tubman traversed many boundaries, inner and outer. Now, thanks to Tiya Miles, she becomes an even clearer and sharper signal from the past, one that can help us to echolocate a more just and sustainable path.

Reviews

“Drawing on and extending accounts of Harriet Tubman’s life and memories, Tiya Miles’s Night Flyer situates Tubman as a thinker, dreamer, and doer. An intellectual, physical, and spiritual force embedded in multiple worlds—ecological, geographical, familial, dream, and spiritual—acquiring and acting on knowledge drawn from each of them. Beautifully conceived and written, Night Flyer speaks powerfully of the worlds Tubman navigated and refused, and to our own perilous times.”
Christina Sharpe, author of Ordinary Notes

Night Flyer anchors Harriet Tubman to the faith and ferocity that has made her beloved by generations of Americans. Tiya Miles continues to captivate readers with her luminous prose, her riveting attention to detail, and her continuing genius to bring the past to life. With imaginative engagement, she has offered us a window onto the world inhabited by Tubman and her people, and its crucial legacy for us today.”
Catherine Clinton, author of Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom


“Transcending the boundaries of literary genre and academic discipline, Miles provides a brilliant meditation on the many worlds of Harriet Tubman—environmental, social, interior. Night Flyer is also a lyrical praise song to Tubman and those Black women preachers who melded religious faith with physical courage to fight for the liberation of Black bodies, minds, and spirits. A stunning achievement.” 
Jacqueline Jones, author of No Right to an Honest Living: The Struggles of Boston’s Black Workers in the Civil War Era

Author

© Stephanie Mitchell
Tiya Miles is the Michael Garvey Professor of History at Harvard University, the author of five prizewinning works on the history of slavery and early American race relations, and a 2011 MacArthur Fellowship recipient. She was the founder and director of the Michigan-based ECO Girls program, and she is the author of the National Book Award–winning, New York Times bestselling All That She Carried. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. View titles by Tiya Miles