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Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo"

Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo"

Geschrieben von Zora Neale Hurston

Erzählt von Robin Miles


Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo"

Geschrieben von Zora Neale Hurston

Erzählt von Robin Miles

Bewertungen:
4.5/5 (165 Bewertungen)
Länge:
3 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
May 8, 2018
ISBN:
9780062748232
Format:
Hörbuch

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Beschreibung

A major literary event: a never-before-published work from the author of the American classic Their Eyes Were Watching God that 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 brilliantly illuminates 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.

Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
May 8, 2018
ISBN:
9780062748232
Format:
Hörbuch

Auch als verfügbar...

BuchSchnappschuss

Über den Autor

Zora Neale Hurston was a novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist. An author of four novels (Jonah’s Gourd Vine, 1934; Their Eyes Were Watching God, 1937; Moses, Man of the Mountain, 1939; and Seraph on the Suwanee, 1948); two books of folklore (Mules and Men, 1935, and Tell My Horse, 1938); an autobiography (Dust Tracks on a Road, 1942); and over fifty short stories, essays, and plays. She attended Howard University, Barnard College and Columbia University, and was a graduate of Barnard College in 1927. She was born on January 7, 1891, in Notasulga, Alabama, and grew up in Eatonville, Florida. She died in Fort Pierce, in 1960.  In 1973, Alice Walker had a headstone placed at her gravesite with this epitaph: “Zora Neale Hurston: A Genius of the South.”  


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Kritische Rezensionen

  • This book from the author of "Their Eyes Were Watching God" became one of the biggest literary accomplishments of 2018. Written back in 1927, Zora Neale Hurston tells the true story of Cudjo Lewis, the last living person who'd been brought to America as part of the slave trade. "Barracoon" is an incredibly important source text recalling the horrors of slavery during the era of segregation.

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  • (5/5)
    Heartbreaking story of the last living slave who could remember his life in Africa. It is short, but take your time reading it. It is easy to skim over important details.
  • (4/5)
    Hurston’s book length interview with the last recorded slave in 1927 is an important addition to the library of slavery in America books. The dialogue spoken by Cudjo Lewis is difficult at first to decipher, but after a few pages, it becomes second nature to the reader. The speech pattern lends credence to the man’s powerful words. His stories are gruesome, so much so, that many readers might want to avoid a meal before sitting down to read it. Any scholar studying slavery in the U.S. would want to put Hurston’s book at the top of his/her list of primary sources.
  • (3/5)
    In 1927 author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston befriended Oluale Kossola (aka Cudjo Lewis), a former slave who had endured the Middle Passage on the Clotilda, the very last ship to make the trek from Africa to America with illegal human cargo. He was just nineteen years old at the time of his enslavement. Freed at the end of the Civil War, he settled in "Africatown" (later known as Plateau, Alabama) with other Clotilda survivors, and married and had children with his beloved wife Seely. But at the time of his friendship with Hurston, he was eighty-six years old and essentially alone in the world. He missed his homeland.Despite the undeniable interest and pathos of the subject matter, Barracoon did not find a publisher during Hurston's lifetime. If it had included more salient facts, perhaps it could have. The main text, which only runs about 112 pages with generous margins, consists of transcripts of the author's conversations with Lewis, in dialect, without the details that would flesh the story out. For example, Lewis's voyage on the slave ship is brushed over in just a few paragraphs. I wish Hurston would have asked more questions. This book is not a fully developed memoir or anthropological case study. Recommended for historical purposes only.
  • (4/5)
    This book will hopefully be featured in classes about African American history and slavery for many years to come, because Oluale Kossola's (also known as Cudjo Lewis) story is both important and rare. A young man of nineteen years old when his tribe was decimated by a rival tribe, he was sold into slavery long after it was declared illegal to do so in the United States (not that that stopped many people, and Kossola's enslavers were never brought to justice and profited handsomely from their kidnapping endeavor). Kossola is able to recall, sometimes in startling detail, the life he had in both Africa and America. There aren't many testimonies from those who survived the Middle Passage, for various reasons. Many Africans were never taught to read or write by their white slavemasters, and there was virtually no interest in recording their experiences. Kossola was quite old when Hurston traveled to speak with him and record his story; it's a wonder that we have this document at all, to be honest. Hurston kept Kossala's dialect intact as best as she was able, which can make the first few pages of Kossola's account a bit difficult to read. Once I got the hang of the dialect, though, I found the book fascinating. The testimony itself is rather short, and I felt like the other essays included in the book were rather dull and didn't add much to the most important part of the book: Kossala's narrative. Be prepared to have your heart broken repeatedly during this book. Kossala's life was full of painful experiences, from his enslavement to losing ALL six of his children and his beloved wife. This is a true testament of this man's endurance and strength. Highly recommended.
  • (4/5)
    While dialect makes this a more difficult read than some, the telling of one man's experience on one of the final slave ships deserves a reading. Ii found the contrast between the way two brothers treated their slaves enlightening. The story itself will break your heart at times. The appendix with Cudjo's stories and an African game was fascinating.
  • (4/5)
    Deeply moving interviews with man who remembered being kidnapped from his village and sold to the last ship that carried slaves to the U.S. (illegally).
  • (5/5)
    55. Barracoon : The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" (audio) by Zora Neale Hurstonrediscovered and edited by Deborah G. Plantreader: Robin Milespublished: 2018, but originally written in 1931format: 3:53 Libby audiobook (~107 pages equivalent, stretched to 208 pages in paperback)acquired: Librarylistened: Oct 8-12rating: 4½The story of the last living African born American slave, told in his own voice. Hurston interviewed Cudjo Lewis in 1927, and she includes herself in the book, but she gives him control of the narrative, and he takes it in some unexpected places, and colors it in his own variety of southern black English. His language, beautifully captured by Robin Miles on the audio, hangs around after the book.Lewis, born Kossola (pronounced here, roughly, KUH-zoolah), insists on talking first about his ancestry in Africa. And spends the heart of narrative on his home continent, including the story of his capture in a gruesome village massacre. But he also goes into his time in the barracoon in Ouidah (modern Benin), his purchase, 70-day passage across the Atlantic to Mobile, Alabama, his life as a slave, and then a free man who married, had several children, and lost several in tragic, and sometimes mysterious ways in Alabama. He was 19 when he made the passage to America in 1859, and so 87 years old when Hurston interviewed him.It's not clear to me whether she continued to interview him, but she wrote up this book in 1931 and then when tried to get it published, there were no takers. Publishers were uncomfortable with the extended dialect, and especially with his Africa. In the mythology of the time, Africa should have been something of positive, something to long for. But, despite his painfully missing his home, the Africa he writes about is brutal, marred with terrible violence. Deborah G. Plant recently (?) discovered the manuscript and it was first published earlier this year.“We cry ’cause we slave. In night time we cry, we say we born and raised to be free people and now we slave. We doan know why we be bring ’way from our country to work lak dis. It strange to us. Everybody lookee at us strange. We want to talk wid de udder colored folkses but dey doan know whut we say. Some makee de fun at us.”
  • (5/5)
    It’s shocking to me that it took this long to get it published, because what Hurston achieves here is extraordinary. In 1927 she visited the last surviving African brought over in the last slave ship to America, which was the Clotilda in 1860. Kossola (Cudjo Lewis) was 19 years old when he was enslaved, and 86 when Hurston began interviewing him. Hurston was intelligent and a great writer, but she very wisely puts herself in the background by letting Kossola tell his own story. The result is that for the majority of the short book, I felt as though I was sitting on the porch with him back in 1927, and he in turn was transporting me back to Africa in the 1850’s, and America in the mid-late 19th century. That alone makes the book special.Another thing that is striking is how Kossola and others were subjugated. I felt a wave run through me when I learned that the vast majority of the roughly 13 million Africans enslaved over 1450-1900 were captured by other Africans, held in holding areas called ‘barracoons’, and then sold to white slavers when their ships came in. It’s a harrowing and very painful truth, so painful that many didn’t want to hear about it, but Hurston confronts it. In her autobiography ‘Dust Tracks on a Road’ she would later write “But the inescapable fact that stuck in my craw, was: my people had sold me and the white people had bought me…It impressed upon me the universal nature of greed and glory.” I still get goosebumps thinking about it.In Kossola’s case, his tribe was simply annihilated by the stronger Dahomey, in an area that is now part of Benin. After talking about his grandfather and father, and remembering some interesting customs of his tribe, he relates how early one morning the Dahomey warriors surprised them. The middle aged and elderly were decapitated by a group that included fierce female warriors, and the rest enslaved. To read about the brutality, and things like the Dahomey king’s house being made of skulls and bones, is not for the squeamish. It ended life as he knew it as a young man, but for the rest of his life, he longed to return to Africa.If you’re thinking this is going to be a book describing nothing but the horrific evils of slavery and racism in America, you’ll be surprised. That’s in here of course, but it’s stunning in just how little Kossola dwells on the five years as a slave in Alabama, before one day Union soldiers simply tell him and others that they’re free. It simply does not define him or his life, and he moves on. However, keep in mind that he and others are not given reparations, not given passage back to Africa, and not given any land after they’re freed. He faces discrimination not only from whites, but also from African-Americans who have been in America for generations. He forms a town with others and names it “Africatown” (later known as Plateau, and part of Mobile today). He marries and has six children, but then sees them all tragically die over the years, so that he’s alone when Hurston meets him. Aside from the Dahomey atrocities, then, it’s the stories of his childhood in Africa, and his children in America, that really stand out in this book. There is great honesty in that, as this was this man’s life. The Africa of his childhood is highly patriarchal. Men have multiple wives, and it’s the wives who go out and find the man new girls or women to marry. Men keep their daughters in the “fat house” for up to two years, with minimal movement so that they could gain weight and therefore be more attractive to prospective husbands. Justice is unforgiving. As Kossola puts it, there are no excuses allowed for being ‘crazy’ at the time of a crime. “If you kill anybody, you goin die, too.” And one way capital punishment is carried out is particularly brutal; the guilty man’s limbs are tied to his dead victim’s limbs, his nose and mouth touch those of the victim’s, and he is left there to wither away, exposed and inhaling noxious fumes over a few days.The stories of his children dying, some of sickness, and others of injustice, are very sad. Several are killed under very suspicious circumstances. Part of the problem is that as the children of new “immigrants”, his boys were picked on, and had to fight throughout their lives, resulting in enemies among other African-Americans. Again, it’s just not what you might expect, that the Klan or a group of whites lynch them. On the other hand, Kossola’s story of getting first hit by a train because it doesn’t ring its bell or horn for him, and then later swindled by a slick lawyer, is infuriating. There is such quiet dignity in how he relates these stories, while at the same time he makes clear his deep emotions for what were traumatic events. As Hurston leaves him after he’s given her two last peaches from his tree, I really felt as if I were riding with her, and away from this simple man who had endured so much in life.The editor of this book, Deborah G. Plant, should be commended as well. Her Introduction and Afterward sections are essentially reading, and her documentation is meticulous. In getting this book published, it’s clear that a lot of time and attention went into it, and the result is of very high quality. Highly recommended.
  • (5/5)
    Where do I start? There are so many things I want to say about this book.What I will say is this: I thank Kossula for sharing his story with Hurston, and I wish that he could be around to see how many people are reading it. Never have a read or heard someone's personal story of their life that made me really feel - it seemed that through his words, I felt so much of his pain, heartache, loss, and this strange, overwhelming sense of ... I don't even know if there's a word for it - like having your heart ripped out and having to live the rest of your life knowing that it's miles away, still technically tangible, but you'll probably never get it back ... always lingering but out of reach - a sort of gnawing hollowness. From a literary aspect ... I think in many ways, it is not my place to really 'review' a book that is someone's personal story, especially when the personal story is one that is quite unique, told orally and then written down by another party.I don't really know what else to say other than that this book is definitely recommended reading. It is a story that will not be soon forgotten.
  • (4/5)
    This wasn't exactly what I thought it was but still very interesting. It is the biography of Cudjo Lewis, the last man who was taken from Africa and brought to the United States as a slave although it was 50 years after the slave trade was made illegal. Cudjo was interviewed by Zora Hurston in the 1920's and he relates some of his life in Africa, the crossing of the Atlantic, his life as a slave and his life after the slaves were "free". Cudjo tells of the wars between tribes in Africa and a very powerful African king. He also tells of how the recent Africans were treated by the slaves already established in America. The confusion after the emancipation of the slaves is also personally revealed. Cudjo married a woman who he loved very much and they had six children, all whom were killed or died before him. When he lost his wife, he was truly lost.Cudjo was a part of a community called Africatown which was made up entirely of the last African slaves. Here they attempted to live much as they had in Africa with the same rules and customs. However, eventually, he also became a part of the American culture (becoming a Christian and a sexton at the Baptist church) although he constantly thought of his life in Africa. As Hurston interviews him, sometimes it is not clear if his memory is correct as is explained in the detailed appendix and notes.I found the book to be very different than many of the slave stories in that it didn't dwell on the cruelties inflicted on the slaves. Rather, it looked at the life of one man who lost his culture, his religion, he future, his past, and his family. Yet, he seemed to accept life as it was handed to him. One of the memorable quotes in the book by Cudjo is that in Africa they knew there was a God; they just didn't know he had a son. The last paragraph: "I am sure that he does not fear death. In spite of his long Christian fellowship, he is too deeply a pagan to fear death. But he is full of trembling awe before the altar of the past."This book sheds a different light on slavery. Too often we assume that all the slaves came from the same place: Africa. But Cudjo's story shows that there were different cultures, prejudices, are wars between tribes. The plight of the slave after emancipation is also interesting. They were so removed from the "big events" of the Civil War that they really did not understand what was happening to them. This is definitely a book worth reading. Cudjo's dialect is sometimes difficult to read but I do believe the author was correct in using it.
  • (3/5)
    I chose to listen to this in audio book form, and think it was a great way to hear Cudjos story. The narrator does a fantastic job with the dislect and I felt like I was there hearing Cudjo speak his own story. The last cargo of slaves brought here, at an age, eighteen I believe, that would allow him to remember his life in Africa, and when he was taken. Heartbreaking. Was interesting hearing about his life in Africa, strange of course to my American ears, but that is what it was.What I didn't like was the beginning, an argument that encompasses the controversy surrounding this story. I felt it was circular, repetitive and the result lacked clarity. The end of the the book was a few more stories where once again it seems the truth is open to debate. So I give Cudjos story and the telling of it 4 stars. But taken as a whole, have settled on three.
  • (4/5)
    This recently published biography/ethnography is by the great author, folklorist, and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, based on interviews she conducted in 1927.  Her subject is Kossola, also known as Cudjoe Lewis and by other names, who was the last known survivor of the African slave trade.  The Constitution outlawed the importation of slaves in 1808, but slave traders were able to smuggle in enslaved people from Africa without consequences right up to the Civil War.Kossola was born in West Africa in what is Benin in the present day around 1840. In 1860, he was captured by the army of the Kingdom of Dahomey and sold to American slavers on the ship Clotilda.  Hurston expresses Kossola's story in his dialect, allowing him to tell his story.  He talks of his childhood in Africa, capture, passage across the Atlantic, and enslavement in Mobile, Alabama.  After Emancipation, Kossola and other former captives of Clotilda pooled together money to buy land near Mobile from their former captors and created a self-contained community called Africatown.  There he tells stories of his marriage, children, his unsuccessful lawsuit after a train crashed into his buggy, and the death of his son, also in a train crash.  Kossola became known as a storyteller, and the appendix includes a sample of his stories.The book is an interesting piece of overlooked American history.  It's also a glimpse into the ethnographic practices of the time, good and bad, as Hurston relates her visits to Kossola and the negotiations that went into planning their interviews. More than once Hurston uses terms like "primitive" to describe Kossola, a shocking judgement for an anthropologist and African American. Critics of the work suggest that parts of Kossola's narrative are fictionalized - either by himself or by Hurston - and note that she plagiarized and earlier interviewer's work in an article she wrote about Kossola.  Nevertheless, this is a valuable historic document to read both for Kossola's story and as an addition to Hurston's work.Favorite Passages: Here is the medicine: That though the heart is breaking, happiness can exist in a moment, also. And because the moment in which we live is all the time there really is, we can keep going. It may be true, and often is, that every person we hold dear is taken from us. Still. From moment to moment, we watch our beans and our watermelons grow. We plant. We hoe. We harvest. We share with neighbors. If a young anthropologist appears with two hams and gives us one, we look forward to enjoying it. Life, inexhaustible, goes on. And we do too. Carrying our wounds and our medicines as we go. Ours is an amazing, a spectacular, journey in the Americas. It is so remarkable one can only be thankful for it, bizarre as that may sound. Perhaps our planet is for learning to appreciate the extraordinary wonder of life that surrounds even our suffering, and to say Yes, if through the thickest of tears. - Alice Walker March 2018From 1801 to 1866, an estimated 3,873,600 Africans were exchanged for gold, guns, and other European and American merchandise. During the period from 1851 to 1860, approximately 22,500 Africans were exported. And of that number, 110 were taken aboard the Clotilda at Ouidah. Kossola was among them—a transaction.Hurston’s manuscript is an invaluable historical document, as Diouf points out, and an extraordinary literary achievement as well, despite the fact that it found no takers during her lifetime. In it, Zora Neale Hurston found a way to produce a written text that maintains the orality of the spoken word. And she did so without imposing herself in the narrative, creating what some scholars classify as orature. Contrary to the literary biographer Robert Hemenway’s dismissal of Barracoon as Hurston’s re-creation of Kossola’s experience, the scholar Lynda Hill writes that “through a deliberate act of suppression, she resists presenting her own point of view in a natural, or naturalistic, way and allows Kossula ‘to tell his story in his own way.’”Kossula was no longer on the porch with me. He was squatting about that fire in Dahomey. His face was twitching in abysmal pain. It was a horror mask. He had forgotten that I was there. He was thinking aloud and gazing into the dead faces in the smoke.“Poe-lee very mad ’cause de railroad kill his brother. He want me to sue de company. I astee him, ‘Whut for? We doan know de white folks law. Dey say dey doan pay you when dey hurtee you. De court say dey got to pay you de money. But dey ain’ done it.’ I very sad. Poe-lee very mad. He say de deputy kill his baby brother. Den de train kill David. He want to do something. But I ain’ hold no malice. De Bible say not. Poe-lee say in Afficky soil it ain’ lak in de Americky. He ain’ been in de Afficky, you unnerstand me, but he hear what we tellee him and he think dat better dan where he at. Me and his mama try to talk to him and make him satisfy, but he doan want hear nothin. He say when he a boy, dey (the American Negro children) fight him and say he a savage. When he gittee a man dey cheat him. De train hurtee his papa and doan pay him. His brothers gittee kill. He doan laugh no mo’.
  • (4/5)
    Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” is immensely important because it presents a first-hand narrative of the last-known survivor of the transatlantic shipment of Africans to the Americas and because it gifts the reading world with a lost work of Zora Neale Hurston's. Barracoon is an important work as any historical record, particularly one that lacked an abundance of first-hand narratives, should be. But Barracoon is just that: a historical record. Sure, it is written in the dialect, but it's ultimately the record of the life of Oluale Kossola (renamed Cudjo Lewis; I prefer to use the subject's given name).Most readers are probably eager to hear Kossola's perspective on his life in Africa and his forced journey to America. This was my primary want from this narrative. Unfortunately, it becomes clear far too soon that Kossola is an old man trying to resurrect memories that are seventy years old. His memory of slavery in America is more than sixty years old. I've only lived half as long as Kossola did, but already my childhood memories have begun to jumble and I cannot help but question some of what I clearly recall. I have no doubt that Kossola's recollection was accurate in some regards, but surely some of those memories have grown fragile and corrupted with time. It's also too evident that he views his upbringing through a lens of Christian teaching, which casts much of it in a negative light.Much of this narrative is about Kossola's life post-slavery. And while this is important and interesting, it presents little new to anyone who's familiar with life in the South for former slaves. Perhaps most interesting are Kossola's records of the Clotilda and some of the finer details of living in Africatown. Barracoon is not the eye-opening riveting story I hoped for, but I'm still glad that it was published and that I had the opportunity to read it.
  • (4/5)
    Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" Zora Neale Hurston (Author), Robin Miles (Narrator)This brief book, tells a story that has never before been published, written by Nora Neale Hurston. It summarizes the interviews she had with Cudjo Lewis, who was thought to be the oldest slave brought over on the ship named Clotilda, which was believed to be the last slaving ship to cross the ocean. The moving story of his life is so real and Lewis is presented as such a fine and authentic character, that this non-fiction presentation reads very comfortably, almost like a novel, at times. There are many parts of Cudjo’s story that readers will wish were fiction, because some of the events he relates are so dreadful, it would be hard to imagine any human being able to withstand the cruelty he was forced to endure. His life was filled with so much human suffering, and yet, his kindness and humanity, coupled with his simple way of explaining and understanding what he was experiencing, seemed to override any bitterness he may ever have felt. In the beginning, there is a history and summary of the narrative to follow. The story is, therefore, sometimes repetitive as the narrator explains that Hurston met with Cudjo over a period of time and elicited his story in his own words which are relayed very realistically by the reader, Robin Miles. His choice of words, his pattern of speech, his gentleness in the telling of his story reveals his devotion to his family and community and is genuinely touching and inspiring. His portrayal by Miles, will make the readers feel as if Cudjo is speaking to directly to them. At times, the reader will have to concentrate to catch his particular dialect, but that only serves to make his story more valid. Robin Miles portrayal of Cudjo and Hurston’s capture of it makes the reader feel as if they caught and presented the man and his life accurately. There is also a tenderness in the telling of it which made even more of a connection to this reader.Cudjo loved his life in Africa and was on his way to fulfilling his life’s dream of marriage and family when he was kidnapped by warriors of another tribe. They destroyed his home and community, murdering his family and neighbors, and ended what once was his happy and contented life. A group of white slave traders in America were responsible for arranging for the boat and the circumstances that would take him across the ocean and into the world of the slave. It was a black tribe, from the Kingdom of Dahomey, though, in Africa, that brutally attacked his village and was responsible for the sale of all of the human cargo that they captured, for profit and power. Cudjo was now to become what Hurston thought of as human cargo, or as she puts it “black cargo”.This part of the history of slavery is rarely taught in schools, and that makes this short book even more important because it shines a light on a subject needing far more illumination. In many ways, the Africans were as guilty of supporting slavery as the white slavers. However, as with drugs, if there was no market, there would not have been a slave trade. There was a market, however, and tribes did sell their brethren for the power, influence and money it brought to them. They sold them to those white men who first came from Great Britain, and then later, to the American men who arranged for the final slave ship, the Clotilda.(Cudjo) Oluale Kossola, crossed the ocean on the Clotilda, which was refitted expressly to smuggle the slave cargo. When the ship docked, Kossola’s life ended and Cudjo Lewis’s began. The Civil War would finally put an end to his life as a slave, but the damage was done. He was ripped from his former life, and he never ceased yearning for a return to his Africa. His description of his experiences, are presented very openly and honestly, and they are transcribed by Hurston in his own words; they paint a clear and often troubling picture of the life he led. From his lips, the reader hears the story of his life, from his days in Africa, to his life as a slave in America, and finally to his life in Africatown where he marries, has a family and ultimately becomes the sexton of his church. He lives quietly, independently, grateful for what he achieves, but sorrowful for what he has lost through the years. He always has his dignity, however, regardless of the tragedies he faced and loneliness with which he lives. His words will paint pictures of family life and family loss, of abuse and injustice, of prejudice from both the white and black American communities and also of moments of pure happiness, though they seemed few and far between. The years of his life as a slave and the years of his life as a free man knit together. Free black Americans looked down upon former slaves as if they were savages. Many white Americans still wanted slaves and treated those that earned their freedom poorly. Some treated them fairly, as did Cudjo’s former master, keeping them on as workers after the Civil War, and paying them salaries. That, however, was the extent of his kindness. It served only his purposes, not theirs. Most of the former slaves dreamt of returning to their once contented lives in Africa, but their hopes were shattered because the cost to return was prohibitive. So, they accepted their fate and settled quietly in a place that they built and called Africatown. (It later on became Plateau).In spite of all that Cudjo went through, he never seemed bitter, but rather he seemed to accept what life gave him and dealt with each event with grace, even when one would have expected his grief to be insurmountable and his anger to be overwhelming. Although Cudjo’s manner of speaking is not eloquent, his message certainly is delivered that way. Hearing his words, in what would have been his own voice, makes his life story that much more authentic for the reader. For this book, the audio is a wonderful experience, and I would recommend it.Many times, I couldn’t help but wonder at the strength of character and courage that Cudjo showed in the face of all of the fear and evil he encountered. I also began to wonder about what could have been the catalyst that brought the free American blacks and the African black slaves together as one family. Free American blacks thought of the African black slaves as inferior. They did not help them in their struggles, either when they were captive or when they were free. They looked upon them as savages. Yet today, most black people clamor to be identified as African Americans, even though they may not have any history there. The book, therefore, indicated to me that perhaps what accounts for the success of Jews in America and elsewhere, is that they always helped each other, and never abandoned any members of their faith. Whenever possible, they rescued them. Perhaps that is the catalyst that united free black Americans and black Africans. This history should be taught in public schools all across America. The stories he told and the legends he related were instructive, but also deeply troubling, because his people were defined as human cargo and, as such, were not treated as human beings for most of their lives, even when free. Hurston genuinely captured the nature of slavery and freedom in Cudjo’s world and portrayed it with integrity and candor. It is that portrayal that makes it so authentic for the reader.This is a book that is ripe for discussion everywhere, because it brings up topics that have not been fully explored or resolved, even after so many years have passed.
  • (4/5)
    Although this is a new release, it should have been published almost a century ago. Hurston wrote the true story of a man who was the last living individual to be taken to America on the last slave ship. Because of his unique dialect, which the author preserves, I’d highly recommend the wonderful audio version. The introduction gives a great background to both the man’s history and the author’s original work.
  • (4/5)
    Cudjo Lewis was enslaved in 1859, after the slave trade was ostensibly illegal, in the last cargo ship to bring Africans to the United States. Over a series of visits, Hurston asked him for his story, and she wrote a manuscript using her skills as an anthropologist and writer to preserve his story, growing up in a Yoruba society, coming over the U.S. and living as an exile since he could never go back home. This is a poignant, challenging, heartrending work I'm glad I read. I could have only wished it was a little longer - I have so many questions about this man's experience and want to read all sorts of books that were mentioned in the notes. The manuscript has been in Howard University archives and has only recently been published, in an edition that includes an introduction by Alice Walker and some (occasionally dry) academic notes by editor Deborah G. Plant.
  • (5/5)
    Good book sharing some history and stories of a ex-slave.
  • (5/5)
    It chronicles the lives of the people stolen from Africa long after slave trade was abolished in this country. We learn tribal culture and history of one particular tribe enslaving many others for sale across the ocean. Life in slavery, in freedom in Africa Town, in families and the conflicts with whites and American born slaves; all told in first person narrative remembrances by a man who was forced to make the terrible passage from Africa to America.
  • (5/5)
    This was a Birdseye view of the ravages of greedy African and colonials who used people who became slaves because they were expendable for their money scams. If you were poor and not in the chiefs favor some were sold/traded. The story of his son’s loss trying to collect for his father’s railroad injury was heartbreaking. Loved zora’s gifts of fruit and meat to keep the dialog going
  • (1/5)
    This copy skipped chapters. Couldn’t piece together the story.
  • (3/5)
    Book: Wasn't as interesting as I was expecting. It covers ground that has been covered previously and in much more depth and detail.

    Audio: Nicely read with excellent and appropriate accenting.
  • (3/5)
    The first six chapters of the audio book consisted of a preface and then an introduction. That was drudgery.... but then the story got more interesting as the main character explained how he came to be captured and enslaved, and his experiences once he got to America. What makes the story truly interesting is the account of the original African battles that lead to one man’s capture and a subsequent seventy day trip across the sea on a slave ship. This particular ship allowed captives on the decks and tried to keep the “cargo” alive for later sale. What happened after arrival is not as clear but the accounts of the original kidnapping make the book worth consideration.
  • (5/5)
    Loved how short and detailed the story was! She told Cudjo's story without involving herself within it and I like how she did not correct his speech.
  • (5/5)
    I loved this so much! Highly recommended and a must read!
  • (5/5)
    A historical account of a resilient man’s story of capture, slavery, injustice, love, family, and loneliness. An important and impactful narrative that should be read, acknowledged, and honored by all. Suitable for all ages, and an incredibly useful tool in learning about US slavery from the perspective of one who endured. A true gift from Ms. Hurston.
  • (5/5)
    A short but essential read for all to understand the experience, told first hand to an excellent anthropologist and evocative writer
  • (5/5)
    Finally published after the author's failure to get it published in her lifetime. This book represents Zora Neale Hurston's interviews with a survivor of the last (illegal) "cargo" of Africans destined to become American slaves. After several years as slaves, they were liberated by the Civil War. Most of the people on this ship stayed together and founded a town. The interviews elicited descriptions of life in Africa and being captured and sold to slave traders by Africans of a different tribe, and then what it was like to face slavery followed by discrimination that originated even from other African-American ex-slaves, who saw these recent arrivals as barbarians.
  • (3/5)
    In 1927, an 86-year-old ex-slave living near Mobile AL tells his life story to interviewer Zora Neale Hurston. His words are recorded as heard, in local southern dialect. Cudjo Lewis was born Kossula in West Africa; captured and sold into slavery, and transported across the ocean in the famous ship Clotilde. Yes, America had abolished the slave trade decades before; this was all done hush-hush. Kossula lived over 5 years as a slave; then freed by the Civil War he built a house, and lived with a beloved wife and six children - all of whom predeceased him, each parting more tragic than the last. While this is undeniably a painful tale to read, the fascination of hearing first-hand the experiences of a black American of that time period who was African-born and can remember and relate his childhood experiences, his capture, his transport, his time enslaved, and his experiences since, makes the read a powerful and moving experience and more than just a sad slog.
  • (4/5)
    Intriguing first-hand account from the last survivor of the last slave ship to arrive in the United States from Africa. Although completed by Hurston in 1931, but failed to find a publisher, Barracoon is book-length treatment of a topic she had first published a short piece on a few years earlier. Unfortunately, most of that article was plagiarized, and much of the editorial commentary discusses what we should make of that fact.
  • (4/5)
    I expected more of Cudjo's story from the exploitative and enslavement perspective, but it was HIS story to tell and he shared the pieces of him that he wanted. Who can disagree with that?