BARRACOON: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”

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9780062748201: BARRACOON: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”
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A major literary event: a never-before-published work from the author of the American classic, Their Eyes Were Watching God which brilliantly illuminates the horror and injustices of slavery as it tells the true story of the last known survivor of the Atlantic slave trade—illegally smuggled from Africa on the last "Black Cargo" ship to arrive in the United States.

In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, to interview ninety-five-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 Clotilde, 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 brilliantly illuminates the tragedy of slavery and 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.

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Review:

"Barracoon and its long path to print is a testament to Zora's singular vision amid so many competing pressures that continue to put us at war with ourselves."--Huffington Post

"Barracoon is an impactful story that will stick with you long after the final page."--Parade

"A profound impact on Hurston's literary legacy."--New York Times

"Zora Neale Hurston's recovered masterpiece, Barracoon, is a stunning addition to several overlapping canons of American literature."--Tayari Jones, Washington Post

"An invaluable addition to American social, cultural, and political history."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Sure to be widely read."--Kirkus Reviews

"Barracoon is a testament to [Zora's] patient fieldwork"--Vulture

"With its historically valuable first-hand account of slavery and freedom, Barracoon speaks straight to the 21st-century world into which it has emerged--almost a century after it was written."--Lily Rothman, Time

"Though both Hurston and Lewis are long gone, Hurston's account of the former slave's life serves as a timely reminder of our shared humanity--and the consequences that can occur if we forget it."--People

"[Barracoon's] belated publication of her phonetic transcription offers spine-chilling access to one of modernity's great crimes, an atrocity that, when described by a victim, suddenly becomes far less distant."--The Guardian

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.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780062864369: Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  006286436X ISBN 13:  9780062864369
Publisher: HarperLuxe, 2018
Softcover

9780008297664: BARRACOON: The Story of the Last Slave

HQ, 2018
Softcover

9780060921705: Barracoon

Harper..., 2011
Softcover

9780060167288: Barracoon

Harper..., 1998
Hardcover

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