David Wright Faladé on the all-Black brigade that inspired his new historical novel

David Wright Faladé's new novel "Black Cloud Rising."
David Wright Faladé is the author of a new historical novel, “Black Cloud Rising,” that follows an all-Black brigade in the Civil War.
Author photo by Cristobal Vivar | Book cover courtesy of Grove Atlantic

David Wright Faladé was so captivated by historical accounts of Richard Etheridge, a former slave-turned leader of the African Brigade during the Civil War, that he wrote a book about him. “Fire on the Beach” describes Etheridge’s time serving as the head of the only all-Black crew in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.

But Etheridge continued to tug at Faladé’s imagination, leading to his new historical novel, “Black Cloud Rising.” This time, he follows Etheridge through the Civil War, as he helps white Union troops hunt down rebel guerrillas and free enslaved people.

Host Kerri Miller says “Black Cloud Rising” is a page turner, rich with complex characters. And since the events are taken from the history book, they have much to teach us about racism today.

Join Miller and Faladé for a conversation about his book, what he learned from his historical research and how Etheridge’s complicated backstory previews race relations today.


  • David Wright Faladé is a professor of English at the University of Illinois and a fellow at the New York Public Library.

Use the audio player above to listen to the author interview.

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