Richard Bell teaches Early American history at the University of Maryland. He has received several teaching prizes and major research fellowships including the National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Award. His first book, We Shall Be No More: Suicide and Self-Government in the Newly United States, was published in 2012. He is also the author of Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home.
"Stolen is historical storytelling at its best. Bell makes
brilliant detective work come alive with vivid, powerful writing.
The saga of these five boys, kidnapped and smuggled from
Philadelphia to Mississippi in the 1820s, captures both the
powerful undertow of slavery in the free black communities of the
North and the urgent dawning of the abolitionist movement. There's
been nothing like it since Northup." --Adam Rothman, author of
Beyond Freedom's Reach: A Kidnapping in the Twilight of Slavery
"A fascinating story."--Library Journal
"A well-told story... A deep dive into the extraordinary risks faced by free blacks in the antebellum era."
"Rigorously researched, heartfelt, and dramatically concise, Bell's investigation illuminates the role slavery played in the systemic inequalities that still confront Black Americans." --Booklist
"'BOY LOST, ' read the advertisement placed in a newspaper by the father of one of the five free boys kidnapped in Philadelphia in 1825. Richard Bell's heartbreaking and searing account of their story chronicles not only the agonies and atrocities of slavery, but the fragility of freedom, and the dauntlessness of resistance." - Jill Lepore, author of These Truths: A History of the United States
"Opening an unknown world from an unsung tragedy that started in early national Philadelphia and stretched grimly South, Stolen offers a worm's eye view of the leviathan of American slavery, and of some of its most dastardly perpetrators and its most remarkable survivors. Richard Bell has researched inventively and mastered a vast body of scholarship, as we would expect from so distinguished a historian. But he also imbues his tale with the deep humanity of a great novelist. Both riveting and heartrending, Stolen joins the great literature of America's founding tragedy, earning a place alongside the work of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Edward P. Jones, and Toni Morrison." - Jane Kamensky, Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History, Harvard University