Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo
New York Times Bestseller Amazon's Best History Book of the Year 2018 TIME M agazine 's Best Nonfiction Book of 2018 New York Public Library's Best Book of 2018 NPR's Book Concierge Best Book of 2018 Economist Book of the Year SELF.com's Best Books of 2018 Audible's Best of the Year BookRiot's Best Audio Books of 2018 The Atlantic's Books Briefing: History, Reconsidered Atlanta Journal Constitution, Best Southern Books 2018 The Christian Science Monitor's Best Books 2018 Barnes & Noble's Best Books of the Year A profound impact on Hurston's literary legacy.-- New York Times One of the greatest writers of our time.--Toni Morrison Zora Neale Hurston's genius has once again produced a Maestrapiece .--Alice Walker A major literary event: a newly published work from the author of the American classic Their Eyes Were Watching God, with a foreword from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, brilliantly illuminates the horror and injustices of slavery as it tells the true story of one of the last-known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade--abducted from Africa on the last Black Cargo ship to arrive in the United States. In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis. Of the millions of men, women, and children transported from Africa to America as slaves, Cudjo was then the only person alive to tell the story of this integral part of the nation's history. Hurston was there to record Cudjo's firsthand account of the raid that led to his capture and bondage fifty years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the United States. In 1931, Hurston returned to Plateau, the African-centric community three miles from Mobile founded by Cudjo and other former slaves from his ship. Spending more than three months there, she talked in depth with Cudjo about the details of his life. During those weeks, the young writer and the elderly formerly enslaved man ate peaches and watermelon that grew in the backyard and talked about Cudjo's past--memories from his childhood in Africa, the horrors of being captured and held in a barracoon for selection by American slavers, the harrowing experience of the Middle Passage packed with more than 100 other souls aboard the Clotilda , and the years he spent in slavery until the end of the Civil War. Based on those interviews, featuring Cudjo's unique vernacular, and written from Hurston's perspective with the compassion and singular style that have made her one of the preeminent American authors of the twentieth-century, Barracoon masterfully illustrates the tragedy of slavery and of one life forever defined by it. Offering insight into the pernicious legacy that continues to haunt us all, black and white, this poignant and powerful work is an invaluable contribution to our shared history and culture.
From the Back Cover From the author of the classic Their Eyes Were Watching God comes a landmark publication - a never-before-published work of the American experience. In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston traveled to Plateau, Alabama, to visit eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis, a survivor of the Clotilda , the last slaver known to have made the transatlantic journey. Illegally brought to the United States, Cudjo was enslaved fifty years after the slave trade was outlawed. At the time, Cudjo was the only person alive who could recount this integral part of the nation's history. As a cultural anthropologist, Hurston was eager to hear about these experiences firsthand. But the reticent elder didn't always speak when she came to visit. Sometimes he would tend his garden, repair his fence, or appear lost in his thoughts. Hurston persisted, though, and during an intense three-month period, she and Cudjo communed over her gifts of peaches and watermelon, and gradually Cudjo, a poetic storyteller, began to share heartrending memories of his childhood in Africa; the attack by female warriors who slaughtered his townspeople; the horrors of being captured and held in the barracoons of Ouidah for selection by American traders; the harrowing ordeal of the Middle Passage aboard the Clotilda as cargo with more than one hundred other souls; the years he spent in slavery until the end of the Civil War; and finally his role in the founding of Africatown. Barracoon employs Hurston's skills as both an anthropologist and a writer, and brings to life Cudjo's singular voice, in his vernacular, in a poignant, powerful tribute to the disremembered and the unaccounted. This profound work is an invaluable contribution to our history and culture.