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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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A "must hear"

This is one book that is probably best consumed audibly because of the dialect of Cujo Lewis, the subject. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it.

36 of 38 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • shabax
  • OCEAN SPRINGS, MS, United States
  • 05-14-18

Incomplete

The introduction was the most interesting part of the entire book. The story was fragmented and failed to add to existing accounts. The main character was a truly historic figure who undoubtedly had a riveting story to tell. This story, although in his own tongue, seemed incomplete.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Skip the introduction.

The book was fantastic but I felt that the introduction was long winded, dry and full of spoilers.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Love it!

Ms.Hurston's foresight to not compromise the dialect of Oluale Kossola, and allow him to tell his story in his way, makes this book and invaluable piece of history.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Powerful

I absolutely loved it. I am from Mobile and recognize all the streets and references. It just filled my heart.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent story as well as narrator

Very interesting book that really makes you think. By the end, I had laughed, cried, and felt for this man, as well as Hurston. The narration was excellent!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

opening was shocking but finish satisfying

I was super disappointed with the preface implications about Ms. Hurston's supposed plagiarism. I was oh so pleased with the story line. The simple way of capturing the information and detailing of his history.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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BRILLIANT JOURNEY

I cried, I laughed, I felt. This book took me back to feel his pain.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • smallz
  • Sacramento, CA
  • 05-18-18

Baracoon

Horrible. Not what it should be. Too much whitesplaining. Under appreciated & attacked Hurston as a liar & an idiot. Black people should not buy this. They sat on this for a century and have the nerve to question the author rather than just telling the story. This book is not written for black people.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

important griot

I relished every word and will likely be quoting it for the next few years until everyone I know has read it. It provides an important historical perspective that needs to be HEARD.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful