by Michael H. Cottman ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 13, 1999
Here, for Cottman, a political writer with the Washington Post, the discovery of the wreck of a slave ship off the Florida coast becomes the launching point for a sometimes lyrical, sometimes graphic journey into the horrific lost world of the transatlantic slave trade. In 1700, the Henrietta Marie, an English slave ship, sank in a hurricane off the Florida keys after unloading its cargo in Jamaica. In 1973, Moe Molinar, a treasure hunter, found the wreck. Divers in 1983 retrieved piles of iron shackles, some small enough for children, that became highly publicized reminders of the barbarous cruelty of slavery. Cottman, a scuba enthusiast, returned in 1993 as a member of the National Association of Black Scuba Divers to install a monument to the slaves on the site of the wreck. For him and the other African-American divers, the monument installation was a deeply spiritual experience, in which they palpably felt the presence of the lost souls of the slaves. Cottman traces the slave ship to an ancient foundry site in England, where iron shackles were made; to Jamaica, where he treks over the plantations farmed by the slaves and their descendants; and to GorÃ‡e Island in Africa, where slaves were kept in brutal conditions prior to passing through the "Door of No Return" en route to slave ships. Cottman's most important journey, though, is spiritual: meditating on the terrible sufferings of Africans in the holds of slave ships, he feels anger, but even stronger is his pride in the resilience of his people. Going beyond historical sources in visualizing the experiences of the slavers and the enslaved, he expresses the hope that finds like the Henrietta Marie will spark a renewed interest in learning about slavery and the slave trade, and engender a liberating dialogue among the races on this shared history and its implications. A gripping and emotionally wrenching, journey into America's forgotten African holocaust. (Author tour)
Pub Date: Jan. 13, 1999
Page Count: 288
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1999
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