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, Africa

Reviews Barracoon

  • 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 free man?”…when he lifted his wet face again he murmured, Thankee Jesus! Somebody come ast about Cudjo! I want tellee somebody who I is, so maybe dey go to tell everybody whut Cudjo says, and how I come to Americky soil since de 1859 and never see ...
  • 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 come to be published IS of course wonderful. It should have been published decades and decades ago!BUT, but, but… I do have some complaints with the final product.Only half of this book is in fact Cudjo Lewis' story, his story, told by him. Zora Nea...
  • 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’s, by superimposing any thoughts of my own. There are pieces of history we will never get back. For many of us, this is why we write: to re-imagine the stories of slavery, for instance, because we do not have words to tell us. This is a living, br...
  • 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...
  • Didi
    Check out my review here:
  • Lata
    Fascinating and heartbreaking, Kossula relates his traumatic experience in his youth of his village being slaughtered and he and other youths being sent into slavery in the US. Zora Neale Hurston spends many days listening to Kossula's stories, and other days letting the man simply get on with his chores as she gained his trust.The "interview" section of the book is prefaced by some background on Hurston's reasons for engaging Kossula, as well as...
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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”—choosing to center in on how legitimate the story can be if its author didn’t concern herself with the due diligence of citing whose works she chose to use. To me, none of that matters. It’s irrelevant and petty to even address the how of t...
  • 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 was great and I actually couldn't imagine reading it with the vernacular of Cudjo Lewis. Is this a great introductory read? I think so. It just wasn't for me. I found nothing new here.
  • Clif Hostetler
    Barracoon is an interview record of the memories of Cudjo Lewis who is believed to be the last living person captured in Africa and brought to America on a slave ship. Lewis was captured in 1859 by Dahomey warriors, sold to American slavers, and illegally shipped to Mobile, Alabama (importing slaves to the USA had been outlawed in 1809). He was 19 years old when captured and was approximately 91 years old when interviewed in 1931. He recounts how...
  • 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...
  • 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 | Book Girl Magic
    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 ...
  • Betsy Robinson
    This is a short book—171 pages and a lot of that is front and back matter (I didn’t read much of this)—but the pain and trauma-on-top-of-trauma quotient is so high it takes a while to read in whatever spurts you can tolerate. It is the life story of Kossola, the last living slave abducted from Africa after other Africans plundered his village, brutally beheading people, to catch human beings to sell to the thriving but illegal slave trade. ...
  • Stephanie Anze
    "All these words from the seller, but not one word from the sold."Cudjo Kossola Lewis was a young man when his village was raided, in 1860, and he (along with several others) was taken to be sold. Bought by William Foster, captain of the Clotilda slave ship, Kossola made a lengthy trip to Alabama. For over five years, Kossola (whom was given the name of Cudjo) was a slave. In the late 1920's, Zora Neale Hurston (not yet a renowned author) travele...
  • Taryn Pierson
    Definitely a vital historical artifact.
  • Lois
    This is short, intense and well written. Invaluable
  • 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...
  • Stacia
    A powerful & amazing story. I'm glad this narrative exists even if it took decades for it to be published.
  • 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 ...
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • LeeTravelGoddess
    Beautiful short story told to Ms. Zora about the last slave. I enjoyed it very much 💚
  • Claire Reads Books
    A remarkable book—Barracoon is both an exceptional historical document and a stunning literary work.
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Jamise // Spines & Vines
    My reading experience was enhanced because I listened to the audiobook simultaneously as I read Barracoon. It took me a while to fall in step with the dialect but as I look back that’s the most beautiful part of this book. I found myself frustrated that the interview content was minuscule in comparison to the long introduction & appendices. But I paused, took a step back, removed what was annoying me from my thoughts and focused my energy on th...