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Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston
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Barracoon (2018)

by Zora Neale Hurston

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1,3346012,300 (3.98)88
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.--Publisher's website.… (more)
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Title:Barracoon
Authors:Zora Neale Hurston
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Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" by Zora Neale Hurston (2018)

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» See also 88 mentions

English (58)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (60)
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
On one hand it seems strange that "Barracoon", which is based on the 1927 interview of Cudjo Lewis, the last survivor of the last slave ship to the US, took so long to be published. But maybe that is all to the good as such an account would have been a hard sell back in those days. I well remember a newspaper article I came across from around that time period which was about how the amount of lynchings were down from previous years. Most lynchings were of black men according to the article. Attitudes were a bit different then.

The book was short and the account of Cudjo's life was so interesting. What struck me most was the attitude of African Americans to the Africans. It was a lot different than the homogeneous mass of blacks brought to mind when slaves and slavery are referred to in works like Jill Lepore's "These Truths". The Africans seem to have been treated as the lowest of the low by all facets of society which didn't turn out well for Cudjo's children.
  Familyhistorian | Jan 13, 2023 |
I love Zora Neale Hurston anyway

And finding Barracoon just confirmed that. This edition is more than the original manuscript, containing much informative front and back matter: The book itself is actually quite small. It's enough, though, to break your heart for Kossula and the 12 million Africans who died grieving and longing for an Africa they would never see again, and enough to make you want to learn more. I'm off to see if I can find the film footage of him that she shot. ( )
  DocWood | Nov 20, 2022 |
Africa, slavery, read in 2022 ( )
  graysongirl | Oct 16, 2022 |
This was a quick read. For some, it might be a little difficult due to dialect. I liked this though because it's a first-hand account of being a slave. This is set up in an interview like format. I've read a ton of Zora before reading this book. In some ways I think they over hyped this book especially if this is your first Zora book, but in other ways I'm glad they published this book. It's a good book to read today during Juneteenth. ( )
  Ghost_Boy | Aug 25, 2022 |
The audiobook was fantastic, I only wish it had been infinitely longer ( )
  changgukah | Aug 22, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
The book's uniqueness is in its recounting of a story in which we are all equally bound up by this cycle of oppression – the former slave plagued by the trauma of losing his homeland and family, the writer whose work survived the desire of intellectuals for white approval, the reader forced to challenge their own ideas about race and the internalisation of oppression. But more than anything it brings an African past up close to an African American present, at a time of great searching. "Throughout her life, Hurston fought against this idea that there was no connection to Africa once people arrived on these shores, and everything was forgotten," Wall says. "We know that's not true. But a book like this really brings that to life."
added by Cynfelyn | editThe Guardian, Afua Hirsch (May 26, 2018)
 
Brimming with observational detail from a man whose life spanned continents and eras, the story is at times devastating, but Hurston's success in bringing it to light is a marvel.
added by Shortride | editNPR, Jean Zimmerman (May 8, 2018)
 

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hurston, Zora Nealeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lewis, CudjoIntervieweemain authorall editionsconfirmed
Plant, Deborah G.Editorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Walker, AliceForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Möhring, Hans-UlrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miles, RobinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
--Zora Neale Hurston, Dust Tracks on a Road
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This is the life story of Cudjo Lewis, as told by himself. (Preface)
It was summer when I went to talk with Cudjo so his door was standing wide open.
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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.--Publisher's website.

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