Monday 26 June 2023

White Slaves

Finished June 15
White Slaves: 15 Years a Barbary Slave by Nicholas Kinsey

This captivating novel is based on real people and events, which the author researched. On June 20, 1631, 109 men, women, and children were taken by pirates from the community of Baltimore on the southwest coast of Ireland. Most of these people were English Calvinists who had started a fishery there. The ship that took them was working for the ruler of Algiers, and they were headed along with others, mostly men from France and Spain, back to Algiers to be sold as slaves. While the distance in a fast ship, like those the pirates used would have been a few days by sea, the need to avoid government ships of all nations, and the draw of more plunder meant the ship took more than a month to make the journey. 
Kinsey, takes us into the story of these people, giving them individual voices and bringing the characters to life. He follows quite a few of the people through the many years that they they were unable to return home, using what facts were available and inventing a story around them. The characters he covers include men, women, and children, and both English Calvinists and Irish Catholics. This book unveiled to me not just this historical event, but the entire culture of the times, giving us insight into politics, religion, and trade. 
Religion was interesting to see how people chose to observe, and the attitude of the British government of the time to any who had converted to Islam. Seeing how the different individuals dealt with their situation was also really interesting. Some were unable to stop longing for home and the way things had been, others moved on quickly, and others gradually found themselves new lives. The treatment of the individuals as slaves was also enlightening, compared to the limited information I remember learning about slavery of black people brought to North America. 
This is a book that immerses you into another time and place thoroughly, and the stories draw you on, making me want to know more about what happened to the different people Kinsey portrays. 
A wonderful read!

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