Skip to content
Paperback 47 Book

ISBN: 0316016357

ISBN13: 9780316016353


Select Format

Select Condition ThriftBooks Help Icon


Format: Paperback

Condition: Good

Save $6.80!
List Price $10.99

6 Available

Book Overview

Master storyteller Walter Mosley deftly mixes speculative and historical fiction in this daring New York Times bestselling novel, reminiscent of Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad . 47 is a young slave boy living under the watchful eye of a brutal slave master. His life seems doomed until he meets a mysterious runaway slave, Tall John. 47 finds himself swept up in a struggle for his own liberation.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings


Walter Mosley is likely to capture a new generation of readers and fans with his first book for young adult readers, 47. The story is a mix of history, mythology (particularly the story of Tall John the Conqueror), and science fiction that is sure to become a timeless classic. The book title is derived from the name and number of its main character, 47. He opens the book by explaining that he has been the same age for the last 170 years, and as the story unfolds, he sets about explaining how. 47 lived a relatively sheltered life as a slave until he was put to work in the cotton fields. Tired from being overworked in the fields, isolated because other field slaves felt he has had it too easy in life, and hurt by his sense of betrayal because the woman who raised him, Big Mama, wouldn't keep him out of the fields, 47 feels dejected, alone and exhausted. All that changes when he meets what he initially thinks is a runaway slave, but later learns is an extraterrestrial being, Tall John. Tall John, who is from beyond Africa, has supernatural powers and has come to help 47 fulfill his destiny. The two form an immediate bond, and in spite of the fact that it takes 47 a while to realize it, fate has brought them together. 47 is awestruck, not only by Tall John's powers, but also by his strength, and for a while he believes that Tall John has come to save him and other slaves. Little does he know, Tall John is only a teacher, sent to share his wisdom, and to prepare 47 so he can someday realize his full potential. This book is one that is difficult to review because it does so much so well. Mosley seamlessly merges history and fantasy and the result is a page turner that will leave you breathless. While this book was written with a young adult audience in mind, adults are sure to love it as well. The plot is intelligent, thought provoking and a true testament to Mosley's creative mind. The characters are thoroughly and thoughtfully drawn, so much so, that even when they accomplish unfathomable feats, such as flying, it is believable. Rarely can you find a book that will inspire both young and old to think, feel, and most importantly, dream like 47. Reviewed by Stacey Seay of The RAWSISTAZ™ Reviewers

Mosley-Modern Day Griot-Rush the Sequels

47 joins the rare pantheon of young adult literature that is badly mislabled. This is simple literature at its most illuminating, haunting best. This is not a read just younger children. However this should be read and interpreted by an adult to elementary school children who need to understand the horror that was American slavery but also the strength and fortitude it took to survive. It should be read by everyone else because it is a fabulous story well told. Mosely is a gifted, gifted writer and here's hoping that young and old of all cultures experience his unique gift.

Thank you Walter Mosley!

Thank you Walter Mosley! Thank you for giving me the book that I have been waiting all my life to read. Since I was young I have been searching for a fantasy tale that mixed African-American history with an exciting out of this world adventure. I just wish that this book existed when I was young. I searched for a book just like this during my youth but never found it. I am so glad that young people today now have this book. This is a skillfully written imaginative story that will capture the minds of all that enjoy a good told tale from a different point of view. I truly hope that this is only the beginning of the story. I hope that Mr. Mosley will compose many sequels. Some stories need to be continued and this is definitely one. May "47" (High John the Conqueror) live a long life in the minds and hearts of our youth!

A Heartfelt Work of Fiction

I listened to the Unabridged Audio version of "47", narrated by the late, great Ossie Davis. It was a wonderful experience. The story although aimed toward young teen audiences, is not too simple for adults to enjoy. This story is a heartfelt introduction to slavery for today's youth (to whom many this history is forgotten.) Kudos to Mr. Mosley for taking on such a tough subject; and for the foresight to aim it to a young audience. On another note, Ossie Davis did an outstanding job with the narrative; I will always treasure this as one of his great works of art. -- P. Walker-Williams,

Allegory of race relations and the problems of good and evil

"The mature slave knows that dreams never come true. They know that they'll eat sour grain and sawdust everyday except Christmas and that they'll always work from before sunrise until after dusk every day for all the days of their lives." When 47 is just a boy, perhaps twelve or thirteen, he begins to understand how hard being a slave can be because it's then that he finds himself in the cotton fields and taken from the nurturing care of Big Mama Flore. Mama Flore had tried to prepare him for the difficult turn his life would take. Being a slave means not knowing your birthdates and often never knowing your own blood-related family. 47 doesn't even know if he has any other name because Master Tobias gives him a number rather than a name --- it's as simple as that. Living in the slave quarters with grown men and working from dawn to dusk, the most important thing to 47 is trying to stay out of the overseer Mr. Stewarts's way. He begins to understand Big Mama's words: "White peoples gots as many ages as you can count but slaves on'y gots four ages. That's babychile, boy or girl, old boy or old girl, an'dead." 47 has seen more than one slave beaten to death and others who have been taken to the killin' shack. "And those that did come back were never the same." One day, however, everything changes for 47 and for every slave and white person on Corinthian Plantation when, by chance, he literally runs into "Tall John." "He was the most beautiful being I had ever known. His skin was the color of highly polished brass but a little darker, a little like copper too but not quite. His eyes were almond-shaped and large with red-brown pupils. He was bare-chested and slender, but there was elegance in his lean stance. All he wore was a pair of loose blue trousers cinched at the waist with a piece of rope." There is no explaining the immediate attraction between the boy and Tall John. John seems to look deep inside of him and know his every fear. Tall John tells him that he has finally "found" him and that he, 47, is a special boy with a special mission. Over a period of time 47 finds Tall John even more mysterious. "I knew that he wasn't one of us, the slaves, but something different, something that neither I nor anyone I had ever known had met. I knew right then that the run-away Lemuel, now calling himself Tall John, was something like an angel, or a devil." Tall John has a way of communicating with people that makes them pause. He, however, cannot predict the evil within Mr. Stewart or the anger in Master Tobias. After he magically saves the slave master's daughter, he and 47 are turned over to Mr. Stewart because they are slaves. Even with all of this, none of them is ready for the strength and wisdom of what Tall John is able to convey. Nor are they prepared for the horrible violence and tragedy that results from the blinding hatred that men pour upon one another. Walter Mosley has written a kind of biblical, historical allegory with a tou

47 Mentions in Our Blog

47 in Juneteenth Reading List for All Ages
Juneteenth Reading List for All Ages
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • June 18, 2020

On this day in 1865, Union Troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, the last stop on their tour to liberate enslaved persons in the US. This represents a day of hope. But the history, both before and after this day, has been fraught. Here we present a reading list for a range of ages shedding light on this difficult subject.

Copyright © 2022 Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Do Not Sell My Personal Information | Accessibility Statement
ThriftBooks® and the ThriftBooks® logo are registered trademarks of Thrift Books Global, LLC
GoDaddy Verified and Secured