A comprehensively researched and absorbing study of a freed slave’s life.



A black soldier fights in the War of Independence and later finds fortune in Newark.

In his nonfiction debut, Ayim surveys the life and times of “Jack” Cudjo Banquante, a Revolutionary warrior for a cause to which he owed little and a horticultural importer in Newark after the conflict ended. Born the child of slaves around 1723 and probably sold by Dutch traders, Cudjo was purchased by Benjamin Coe of Newark and sent into combat in the owner’s stead. As a member of the 1st Battalion, 1st Company of the Revolutionary Army, Cudjo clashed with British forces at Yorktown, Valley Forge, and alongside 800 other black soldiers at Monmouth, the largest battle of the war. Despite the fact that Cudjo’s “military record is as obscure as the records of many slaves who sacrificed limbs and souls during the Revolutionary War,” Ayim proceeds to weigh all the period documentation about the hero: his service, his later career as a cultivator and merchant of exotic plants, and his marriage and progeny. Thrust into the worldwide nightmare of chattel slavery, Cudjo fought bravely in a war he didn’t choose and later became so admirable around town that “even children born in slavery were named after him.” More than an account of one man’s struggles, Ayim’s book is an engrossing primer on the Akan people of West Africa—the horrors they either died from or endured in the trans-Atlantic slave trade—and a meditation on this brutal institution in the Northeast, a region that likes to fancy itself untainted by such barbarity. Of Akan heritage himself, the author proves himself a worthy guide and admirable documentarian on the later dispersion of Cudjo’s family as well as the ensuing history of Northeastern slavery. Although “the state of New Jersey officially abolished further importation of slavery in 1786,” Ayim tells readers, “yet 74 years later (1860) eighteen slaves were recorded in the census.” Subsequent researchers will likely be obliged to the author for the hours he spent fishing pearls from the archives, and readers with an interest in American history of all kinds will encounter a story they should know.

A comprehensively researched and absorbing study of a freed slave’s life.

Pub Date: March 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4750-7378-2

Page Count: 142

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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