Barracoon: The Story of the Last

Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo"

A major literary event: a never-before-published work from the author of the American classic, Their Eyes Were Watching God which brilliantly illuminates the horror and injustices of slavery as it tells the true story of the last known survivor of the Atlantic slave trade—illegally smuggled from Africa on the last "Black Cargo" ship to arrive in the United States.

In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, to interview ninety-five-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 Clotilde, 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 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.

Title:Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo"
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780060921705
Format Type:

About Zora Neale Hurston

was an American folklorist and author. In 1925, shortly before entering Barnard College, Hurston became one of the leaders of the literary renaissance happening in Harlem, producing the short-lived literary magazine Fire!! along with


    Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" Reviews

  • Will Byrnes

    “…I want to ask you many things. I want to know who you are and how you came to be a slave; and to what part of Africa do you belong, and how you fared as a slave, and how you have managed as a f...

  • Chrissie

    “All these words from the seller, but not one word from the sold.”Here, Zora Neale Hurston expresses why she wrote this book.I have had difficulty rating this book. That the book has now finally c...

  • Naori

    I have thought long and hard on this and I do not feel like I can give this any formal review. This is a case in which I feel I would be trespassing on the author’s words, and by this I mean Kossulo...

  • Renee

    I was deeply engrossed in this slave narrative based on Hurston's interviews with Cudjo Lewis, the presumed last living African held captive and taken to America to become a slave in 1860. While the w...

  • Tia

    Books about Slavery and WWII are my jam. I've read a lot about slavery. I think this maybe the reason I didn't love or enjoy Barracoon. It's definitely not what I thought it would be. The narration wa...

  • Maxine

    His name was Kossola, but he was called Cudjo Lewis. He was the last surviving African of the last American slaver-the ClotildaBarracoon: The Story of the Last ‘Black Cargo’ is a previously unpubl...

  • Kimberley

    There are some who’ll choose to lock-in on the accuracy of the text: how much of the story was embellished, or helped along, by Hurston? While others will focus on the parts that were “plagiarized...

  • Petra

    Cudjo Lewis's life story is important. He was brought to America illegally, at the tail end of slavery. His owners kept him and his shipmate slaves "secret" between them, using their labours for about...

  • Andre

    This is an important and fascinating historical document. It is rare that we have a narrative of one who remembers and recounts the journey from Africa to America, from free person to enslaved man. So...

  • Lulu

    Wow! Kossulo’s story is touching and heartbreaking. I felt as if I was sitting there with him and he was personally telling me his story. There isn't much that needs to be said, go read it....