The Survivors of the Clotilda: The Lost Stories of the Last Captives of the American Slave Trade

HarperAudio. Jan. 2024. 11:19 hrs. ISBN 9780063073029. $27.99. HIST
London-based Nigerian narrator Tariye Peterside delivers a superb, nuanced performance of Durkin’s (Josephine Baker and Katherine Dunham) latest. An historian with an academic focus on the transcontinental transportation of enslaved people, Durkin also advises the History Museum of Mobile in Mobile, AL. Drawing upon the museum’s archives, which provide extensive information about the descendants of the Clotilda, the last ship known to have transported enslaved people to the United States, Durkin interweaves firsthand accounts from the Clotilda’s 110 captives with archival research and social commentary. As she relates the survivors’ stories, Peterside seamlessly switches between accents and dialects, channeling the survivors’ words with a storyteller’s tone. Anger is palpable when injustices are related, such as when individuals were shorted pay for their crops and goods or when voting rights were blatantly infringed upon. This production builds on Zora Neale Hurston’s research on the Clotilda in Barracoon. It also goes into more detail about what happened to the enslaved after they were freed than Ben Raines’s The Last Slave Ship.
VERDICT An intriguing, meticulously researched look at the legacy of the Clotilda with a focus on the descendants’ experiences in postbellum America.
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