• Barracoon

  • The Story of the Last ""Black Cargo""
  • By: Zora Neale Hurston
  • Narrated by: Robin Miles
  • Length: 3 hrs and 50 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (3,362 ratings)

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Barracoon  By  cover art


By: Zora Neale Hurston
Narrated by: Robin Miles
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Publisher's summary

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 86-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 50 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 20th-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.

©2018 The Zora Neale Hurston Trust (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic reviews

"Capturing the dialect, accent, and intonation of Cudjo Lewis...presents a challenging task for narrator Robin Miles, who must deliver one of the integral aspects of Hurston's work: a reconstruction of Lewis's African and Southern accents. Miles's rendition is well done, with clear, deliberate diction that places appropriate emphasis on Lewis's emotional reactions." (AudioFile)

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Editor's Pick

Looking back
"I was so excited to learn of this never-before-published work from Zora Neale Hurston, the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God—one of my all-time favorite books—which comes more than 50 years after her death. Underscoring the importance of this literary event, Barracoon is the story of one of the last-known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade, in his own words and own vernacular. From his capture in a raid in Africa to his time as a slave and then as a free man, Hurston’s interviews with Cudjo Lewis in the early 1900s give a unique look at an American history we thought we knew so well."
Abby W., Audible Editor