Reviews

Praise for Be Free or Die

“Through succinct and powerful prose Lineberry unveils how Smalls hatched his bold and dangerous plan…Lineberry elevates Smalls to America’s pantheon of black leaders, showing him to have been as inspirational and courageous as Harriet Tubman in her heroic exploits on the Underground Railroad and Booker T. Washington in his rise from bondage.” Publishers Weekly

“Unquestionably a remarkable story…A worthwhile Civil War biography cogently presented and ready for the big screen.” Kirkus (Starred Review)

“A valuable narrative history. Journalist Lineberry charts Smalls’s epic and dangerous voyage, illuminating the many roles Smalls played in garnering freedom for enslaved African Americans. The author provides ample evidence to suggest that Smalls was instrumental in advancing the mind-set of many… concerning what enslaved people were willing to do to aid themselves and their families.” Library Journal 

“A stunning tale of a little-known figure in history. Robert Smalls’ astounding heroism during the Civil War helped convince Lincoln and the country that African Americans were extraordinarily capable of fighting for their freedom. Lineberry has produced a triumph in this heroic story that illuminates our country’s ongoing struggles with race.” ―Henry Louis Gates, Jr, Professor in American History at Harvard University and Executive Producer of Finding Your Roots

“When the Charleston slave Robert Smalls appropriated the Confederate steam vessel Planter and daringly piloted it out of the harbor to the Union blockade fleet in 1862, winning freedom for himself and fifteen others including his family, he became a Union hero and launched his own career as a black leader. Cate Lineberry tells this riveting and important story with great skill and verve.” ―James McPherson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom and Professor Emeritus of United States History at Princeton University

Be Free or Die makes you want to stand up and cheer. Cate Lineberry has done us all a great service by telling this incredibly moving, thrilling, and important story about an American hero who deserves to be remembered, and admired.” ―Candice Millard, New York Times bestselling author of Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill

“One of the great tales of heroism to come out of the Civil War now has the book it deserves. Be Free or Die brings us for the first time a complete picture of Robert Smalls, the slave who stole a Confederate ship, liberated his family and friends, and went on to be a member of Congress. Thank you, Cate Lineberry, for telling so well the extraordinary story of this extraordinary man.” ―Christopher Dickey, author of Our Man in Charleston: Britain’s Secret Agent in the Civil War South

“The astonishing saga of Robert Smalls, from escaped slave to Union hero, springs to life in Cate Lineberry’s remarkable account. Beautifully researched and movingly told, Be Free or Die is a timeless story of courage, determination and triumph.”―Daniel Stashower, author of The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War

“The story of Robert Smalls is one of the most remarkable and inspiring of the Civil War, and Cate Lineberry tells it here with great sensitivity, keen insight, and careful scholarship. Be Free or Die is a revelatory and page-turning tribute to a legitimate American hero.” ―Gary Krist, author of Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans

“The life story of Robert Smalls has few equals in the annals of American history. He is the archetype of the American Dream. In Be Free or Die Cate Lineberry has brought diligent research, compelling descriptions and high drama to this all-American story.” ―Lawrence S. Rowland, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of South Carolina-Beaufort

“A fast-paced, well crafted work that properly and accurately portrays the incredible feats of Robert Smalls during the Civil War. His actions proved to doubters that blacks could and would serve the United States in the pursuit for victory. Robert Smalls inspired and still inspires people of all races and is truly an American hero.” ―Stephen R. Wise, Ph.D. Historian and author of Gate of Hell: The Campaign for Charleston 1863 and with Lawrence Rowland, Rebellion, Reconstruction and Redemption: The History of Beaufort County Volume 2, 1861-1893

“Robert Smalls’ daring, determined effort to free himself and his family from slavery stands as a thrilling representative of the thousands of unknown acts of self-liberation performed by slaves during the war. In Be Free or Die, Cate Lineberry brings to life the exciting story of this modest man whose dash for freedom under the guns of Charleston harbor led to service in the union navy, a successful business career, and election to the US House of Representatives.” ―Jamie Malanowski, author of Commander Will Cushing, Daredevil Hero of the Civil War

Praise for The Secret Rescue

“Battling vermin, hunger, thirst, and Nazis as meticulously recounted by Lineberry, they trudged more than 650 miles and miraculously made it home. Yet these members of the 807th kept mum until 2011 when the author interviewed the only living survivor, 89-year old Harold Hayes, at a retirement home in Oregon. With a cast of characters that includes British star Anthony Quayle as an undercover agent, survivalists and history buffs will relish the daily escapades of this heroic American contingent.”— Publishers Weekly

“The book combines all of the elements that draw us to WWII stories: the daring of The Guns of Navarone, the suspense of The Great Escape, and the bravery reminiscent of Ill Met by Moonlight. It’s the inclusion of so many women, though, that makes this story unique. It’s always good to be reminded that by no means did men have a monopoly on grace-under-fire during the world’s greatest conflagration.” The Daily Beast

“Drawing on recent interviews with the sole surviving member of the group, previously classified information, archives, and published and unpublished memoirs, Lineberry deftly describes the Americans’ struggles yet doesn’t stoop to unnecessary drama or emotion. She shows the group’s bravery but also their frustrations, despair, and debilitating lack of understanding of Albanian culture.” Library Journal

“Lineberry draws on interviews, diaries, and archival material to recount an amazing WWII survival-and-rescue story that had remained untold by the military and the survivors themselves, who were fearful of the cost to those who helped them. Their secret was kept until the fall of communism in Albania in 1990, when their story of courage and endurance could finally be revealed.”— Booklist

“Cate Lineberry has written a touching, thrilling, completely engrossing story of great courage under harrowing circumstances. This is a World War II story that few people have ever heard, but, after reading this book, no one will forget.”— Candice Millard, author of The River of Doubt and Destiny of the Republic

“Cate Lineberry has unearthed a little-known episode of World War II that has all the elements of a classic escape adventure. Carefully researched and compellingly told, The Secret Rescue is a suspenseful story of courage, audacity, and endurance behind enemy lines. I couldn’t stop reading it.”— Gary Krist, author of City of Scoundrels

“American nurses and medics, trapped behind enemy lines, hungry and haggard, dodging Nazis, hope dimming as winter gains strength. In Cate Lineberry’s gifted hands, the true story of The Secret Rescue is a gripping and suspenseful tale, alive with rich details that carry readers along every step of this remarkable journey.”— Mitchell Zuckoff, author of Lost in Shangri-La and Frozen in Time

The Secret Rescue is narrative history at its best. Cate Lineberry uncovers a fascinating, long-forgotten drama that captured the world’s attention during the darkest days of World War II and transforms it into a gripping story of courage under fire.”— Daniel Stashower, author of The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War

“Cate Lineberry’s The Secret Rescue is the kind of great story that makes you wonder, ‘how come I didn’t know about this?’ A thrilling story of courage behind enemy lines.”— Christopher S. Stewart, author of Jungleland: A Mysterious Lost City, a WWII Spy, and a True Story of Deadly Adventure

“Lineberry takes us into a part of World War II often neglected in war histories – the vantage point of nurses and medics. The medical air evacuations were as dangerous as they were heroic, and after this group of men and women crash lands in Nazi-held Albania, they face daunting physical and cultural challenges. Their story is a courageous journey across not only a foreign landscape, but the topography of the human spirit as well.”— Molly Caldwell Crosby, author of The Great Pearl Heist and The American Plague

The Secret Rescue is an intriguing and spellbinding story. Cate Lineberry has created an amazing piece of work and research that highlights the critical role played by the British clandestine Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in these dramatic events.”— Art Reinhardt, OSS Veteran (China) and OSS Society, Treasurer