Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston


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-yea...

Details Barracoon

Release DateMay 8th, 2018
PublisherHarperCollins Publishers
GenreNonfiction, History, Biography, Race, Cultural, African American

Reviews Barracoon

  • 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 work is heavily prefaced with discourse on Hurston's process of coming into the writing of this novel (and claims of plagiarism), Cudjo's story itself is only 94 pages. The tail end of the book contains an extensive appendix with stories, endnotes, an...
  • 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African of the last American slaver-the ClotildaBarracoon: The Story of the Last ‘Black Cargo’ is a previously unpublished work by author Zora Neale Hurston. Although she is best known for her works of fiction, in this book, she writes ‘as a cultural anthropologist, ethnographer, and folklorist’. In 1927, Hurston spent three months in Plateau, Alabama interview...
  • 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    This is an important and fascinating historical document.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, Zora Neale Hurston writing and working as a folklorist and cultural anthropologist took interest in the story of Kossula, the last surviving individual from the last slaving ship that touched down in Alabama in 1860, the Clotilda. Here we have the ...
  • Renée
    Barracoon was my most anticipated read of 2018 and I can't believe that the time for the books release has finally arrived. This book and story was absolutely incredible and left me with so many thoughts and feelings. In Hurston's introduction she states, "All these words from the seller, but not one word from the sold. The Kings and Captains whose words move ships. But not one word from the cargo. The thoughts of the 'black ivory', the 'coin of ...
  • Stacie C
    Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black "Cargo" is the book Zora Neale Hurston was never able to publish. She originally interviewed Cudjo Lewis at the behest of Dr. Franz Boas. Her report was meant for the Journal of Negro History. She would return and interview him over three months at his home in Alabama, learning of his journey from Africa, his life in bondage and his eventual freedom. This book is told through the words of Oluale Kossola, the...
  • Sarah Beth
    I received an advance reader's edition of this book from HarperCollins. In this work of non-fiction, Zora Neale Hurston conveys the life story of Kossola, known as Cudjo Lewis, "the last surviving African of the last American slaver" (xi). Born in 1841 in West Africa, Kossola was captured by a neighboring tribe and sold to white slavers in 1860 at the age of 19. He was a slave for five years before being freed and he lived out the rest of his lif...
  • Janilyn Kocher
    A very interesting read about a previously unpublished manuscript by Zora Neale Hurston. I thought the introduction was very good. It reveals the story behind the story and tells more about Hurston, who I just knew very basic information. The dialect is disjointed and difficult to read at times. It's a fascinating tale of one of the last known incidents of contraband slaves brought to the US. Cudjo suffered many losses in his life and was quirky,...
  • Amanda Mae
    I was astounded when I first heard this book was being published - I’m a student of southern history, but I had never heard about slaver ships bringing in new slaves from Africa after the trans-Atlantic slave trade was abolished, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. So that was my initial draw to the book, learning about the slave trade and slavery from a man interviewed in the 1930s who had experienced it. Then to further learn that this wa...
  • Joseph Cassara
    I went into this book thinking I would learn more about Cudjo's firsthand experience of slavery in the US, but the chapter about slavery is actually quite short. The most emotionally affective parts of the book for me were Cudjo's recollections of his wife and children, and the clear loneliness and anguish he felt in the present moment while talking to ZNH. It felt so human and raw. His voice comes alive off the page and his stories will stay wit...
  • Colleen
    Hurston wrote this work almost 90 years ago, but it is just being published for the first time now.Through interviews, the book tells the life story of Cudjo, one of the last slaves to be brought from Africa to the US, and the last living African-born former slave alive when Hurston interviewed him.As would be expected, the stories are violent and heartbreaking, but many are also about universal experiences of disappointment, love, and loss. Desp...
  • Derek
    This would be 5 stars if not for the uneven introduction and awkward endnotes. Cudjo's first person narrative is the reason to read this and it jumps off the page.
  • Ashley
    I really liked this book. I enjoyed reading about Cudjo's life in Africa and was saddened by his life in America, and I found myself wishing the book were longer because I didn't want to stop reading. I also enjoyed this book because reading it took me back to my college days when I studied Anthropology. I wish this book had been previously published, as it would have been an excellent addition to the other materials I read and I would have loved...
  • Vicky Who Reads
    3.5 stars'Well, if you give Cudjo all de Mobile, dat railroad, and all de banks, Cudjo doan want it cause it ain' home.Anyone who's looked at my Goodreads profile for more than two minutes probably knows that my favorite classic novel is Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. I loved that book and I still love it and I connect with it so much. It's a masterpiece in my eyes. Despite this, I know there are a bunch of people out there wh...
  • 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 6 years before slavery was abolished. These people were then abandoned to a life in America, a place they did not see as home, with no way back to the home they wanted to return to. Free life in America was hard on African-born freed slaves. They we...
  • Amber
    My Granny was 9 years old when Zora Neale Hurston visited Kossula, the last living slave to have been kidnapped from West Africa and brought to Alabama to be a slave. A survivor of slavery was living and could remember his enslavement and life in West Africa during my granny's lifetime. My Granny. Granny died in 2015 at the age of 97. My Granny came into womanhood knowing people who'd been slaves. So don't tell me slavery was a long time ago and ...
  • Stacia
    A powerful & amazing story. I'm glad this narrative exists even if it took decades for it to be published.
  • Autumn
    I am a fan of Zora Neale Hurston, so when I heard that Harper would be publishing a manuscript of hers post-humously, I was excited. Ultimately, Barracoon was not what I expected. First, it was much shorter than what I imagined Cudjo Lewis' story would need. This is an important story. There is no doubt about that. I just didn't feel as though I got enough of it, like Hurston maybe didn't include everything, or something was lost somewhere. Cudjo...
  • William
    What a treasure this book is.
  • Jean Huber
    Just the name Zora Neale Hurston commands a huge amount of reverence, respect, and awe in the literary community so it is no surprise that there is quite a bit of anticipation around the release of her posthumously published work Barracoon: The Story of the Last Slave. With all of that being said this rather small work of nonfiction was not a quick read, and it has taken me weeks to decide exactly how I feel about it, and consequently want to wri...
  • lisa
    Claims of plagiarism and long introductions aside this was a great look at the long lasting trauma of slavery. While it was clearly heavily padded to make it book length (glossaries, appendixes, two introductions, notes) it is ultimately a story of a man who was stolen from his home country. Cudjo Lewis recounts his tale (sometimes reluctantly) to Zora Neale Hurston in the late 1920s. By this time he has lived most of his life in the American Sou...
  • Irene
    Kossola's narrative is only about half the book. The remainder being a lengthy introduction with notes, appendices and acknowledgements at the end. Kossola discusses in detail his upbringing, his capture, as well as his life after being freed; however, there is not much narrative about the middle passage and actual time during enslavement. The little he did provide about the passage was truly horrifying. It was a little difficult to read Kossola'...
  • Julia
    In 1927 Zora Neale Hurston was asked by Franz Boas and Carter G. Woodson to interview in Alabama Kossolu Oluale or Cudjo Lewis, who was taken by slavers from Dahomey in 1859, spent three months in a stockade or barracoon, and was a slave for five years. He was 19 years old when his family was killed, he was taken, on a bet. Hurston reports she says this to him when they first met. “I want to know who you are and how you came to be a slave; and ...
  • Sara Planz
    Incredibly poignant and powerful. It makes me sad that this sat unpublished for decades but maybe publishing it now, when it seems like we truly need it, was the ideal time. Everyone should read this. If you think you understand the cost and the pain of slavery, Cudjo’s narrative will teach you so much about a part of our history that devastated so many.
  • Jan
    What a gift to have Kossula’s memories and stories brought to life. Robin Miles’ expert narration beautifully conveys his strength, sorrow and humor while also keeping Hurston in the picture.
  • Kimberly
    This book opened my eyes to the real slavery. Before slavery was jus something from the past and it happened. This book made it real for me and made me so sad for my ancestors that lived it and survived it. It has made my journey of what I considered full of hardships and pain, trivial and meaningless. This book should be required reading in high school and college.
  • BJ Hillinck
    What an incredible historical document — must read. One man, raised out of bondage in Africa, was captured by the Dahomey (in 1859) and sold (in 1859!!!! — fifty years after the transatlantic slave trade had been abolished.) to three brothers in Alabama. Freed after 5 and a half years, Kossola, his new family, and the other denizens of the newly founded Africatown, AL had to to contend with the racism of Jim Crow laws as well as the animosity...
    It was a difficult book because it was written in some sort of dialect that was for me, not English mother tongue, complicated to understand. but the story of Kossula touched me deeply.È stato un libro difficile perché era scritto in una qualche sorta di dialetto che mi ha reso la vita difficile, considerato che non sono madrelingua, ma la storia di Kossula mi ha toccato nel profondo.THANKS TO EDELWEISS FOR THE PREVIEW!