Barracoon: The Story of the Last

Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo"

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New York Times Bestseller • Amazon's Best History Book of the Year 201 • TIME Magazine’s Best Nonfiction Book of 2018 • New York Public Library’s Best Book of 2018 • NPR’s Book Concierge Best Book of 2018 • Economist Book of the Year •’s Best Books of 2018 • Audible’s Best of the Year • BookRiot’s Best Audio Books of 2018 • The Atlantic’s Books Briefing: History, Reconsidered • Atlanta Journal Constitution, Best Southern Books 2018  • The Christian Science Monitor’s Best Books 2018 • Barnes & Noble’s Best Books of the Year

“A profound impact on Hurston’s literary legacy.”New York Times

“One of the greatest writers of our time.”—Toni Morrison

“Zora Neale Hurston’s genius has once again produced a Maestrapiece.”—Alice Walker

A major literary event: a newly published work from the author of the American classic Their Eyes Were Watching God, with a foreword from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, 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 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781538519288
Publisher: Blackstone Pub
Publication date: 05/08/2018
Edition description: Unabridged Library Edition
Sales rank: 786,036
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

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.”


Alice Walker won the Pulitzer Prize and an American Book Award for her novel The Color Purple. She has written numerous poems, essays, and short stories, including her most recent book, The Way Forward is With a Broken Heart. Originally published in 1974, Langston Hughes: American Poet was Alice Walker's first book for children. This picture book biography is now back in print with a new author's note and beautiful new illustrations. Ms. Walker lives in Northern California.

Date of Birth:

January 7, 1891

Date of Death:

January 28, 1960

Place of Birth:

Eatonville, Florida

Place of Death:

Fort Pierce, Florida


B.A., Barnard College, 1928 (the school's first black graduate). Went on to study anthropology at Columbia University.

Table of Contents

Foreword: Those Who Love Us Never Leave Us Alone with Our Grief: Reading Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" Alice Walker xi

Introduction xvii

Editor's Note xxxiii


Preface 3

Introduction 5

I 19

II The King Arrives 29

III 39

IV 43

V 51

VI Barracoon 59

VII Slavery 67

VIII Freedom 73

IX Marriage 79

X Kossula Learns About Law 87

XI 93

XII Alone 103

Appendix 109

Takkoi or Attako-Children's Game 109

Stories Kossula Told Me 111

The Monkey and the Camel 116

Story of de Jonah 119

Now Disa Abraham Fadda de Faitful 122

The Lion Woman 124

Afterword and Additional Materials Edited Deborah G. Plant

Afterword 135

Acknowledgments 161

Founders and Original Residents of Africatown 167

Glossary 171

Notes 183

Bibliography 205

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Barracoon: The Story of the last "Black Cargo" 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Incredible historical account, the use of the vernacular maybe hard for some but it makes you feel as if your sitting in on a extraordinary history lesson.
BlackAsh13 More than 1 year ago
Acclaimed author Zora Neale Hurston traveled to Alabama in the late 20s-early30s to interview Cudjo Lewis, who was captured by a rival African tribe and sold into American slavery. He was on the last ever slave ship, the Clotilda, to transport human cargo to the United States. Initially, Hurston attempted to pose questions to Cudjo, but he often went his own way with his stories. Amongst numerous other stories, he spoke of his life in Africa, the day when he was captured and the time he spent in the barracoon waiting to be placed on the ship. He also spoke of family trade ies, some of which pointed to the racial injustice and inequality. The book is very short and the stories of Cudjo's experiences of being captured, sold and transported to America didn't carry any impact for me. Hurston wrote down his words as they sounded to her because of his broken English. I was impacted by this as an African-American to think of how far we have had to come to overcome the obstacles placed in our way. Yet I found myself wanting more of his experiences as a captor and a slave. I was left unsatisfied.
18876111 More than 1 year ago
This book is not easy to read due to the content. It is haunting and deep, but a story that needs to be read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Eye opening potrait of the last African slave
KeithDaniels More than 1 year ago
I've read better accounts of slave narratives.