One Book One Valley wraps up with author of community read | VailDaily.com

One Book One Valley wraps up with author of community read

Daily staff report
newsroom@vaildaily.com

This year's One Book One Valley community read selection was "Underground Airlines" by Ben Winters. The book is set in a contemporary alternate-history United States where the American Civil War never occurred because Abraham Lincoln was assassinated prior to his 1861 inauguration and a version of the Crittenden Compromise was adopted instead. As a result, slavery has remained legal in the "Hard Four" -- a group of southern states which have kept slavery.

What would happen if the Civil War did not end in the emancipation of slaves? Instead, what if it ended in compromise leaving four states in the modern U.S. with legal slavery?

Meet the author of "Underground Airlines," Ben Winters, on Thursday, April 12, at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards for the conclusion of One Book One Valley. Winters, a national best-seller, was chosen early this year as the author for the seventh One Book One Valley program.

Choosing the perfect book

His genre-bending alternate reality follows Victor, a bounty hunter of fugitives from the four slave states. As a former slave himself, every mission Victor fulfills complicates his own reality.

“Good books to discuss tend to be well written and raise universal themes with which readers can identify.”Lori BarnesLibrarian

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"I had reservations every day, up to the present day, because the subject is so fraught, and rightfully so," Winters told The New York Times. "It isn't as if this is ancient history in this country."

"Underground Airlines" quickly rose to the top of the list in the early stages of choosing the book. The work of fiction amplifies our communities, communities across America and political systems within an approachable scenario.

"A challenge for the committee each year is always choosing the title," said Lori Barnes, town librarian of the Vail Public Library. "A good book for discussion is not always a good book to read. Good books to discuss tend to be well written and raise universal themes with which readers can identify."

Winters was "honored and excited" to be the chosen author and will spend his day of the finale visiting school classrooms to speak with students who have read his book.

Join in next year

Since the beginning of the year across the Vail Valley, colleges, high schools, book clubs and readers have picked up Winters' book and participated in programming leading up to the finale. The book has been a topic of conversation overheard on the Vail in-town bus, dinner tables in Avon and coffee spots in Edwards. This year's involvement spread from the casual reader to leaders in our community.

"I am especially proud of the continued enthusiastic support we have enjoyed from our local politicians who really value what we are trying to achieve with One Book One Valley," Barnes said.

As large as the program is already, there are always additional engagement from local businesses that could grow for the 2019 choice.

If You Go …

What: An evening with Ben Winters, author of the One Book One Valley community read selection “Underground Airlines.”

When: Thursday, April 12, 6 p.m.

Where: Colorado Mountain College, Edwards.

Cost: Free.

More information: Visit http://www.onebookonevalley.com.