25 Aug 2009

White Gold.

White Gold By Giles Milton.

In the summer of 1716, a Cornish cabin boy named Thomas Pellow and fifty-one of his comrades were captured at sea by Barbary corsairs. Their captors - Captain Ali Haken and his network of fanatical Islamic slave traders - had declared war on the whole of Christendom. Poked, prodded and put through their paces at the great slave markets of Morocco, thousands of Europeans were sold to the highest bidder.

Thomas Pellow was bought by the tyrannical sultan, Moulay Ismail, as a personal slave, and he would witness first-hand the barbaric splendour of the imperial Moroccan court, as well as experience daily terror for twenty-three years. He was one of the fortunate few who survived to tell his tale

.... from the back cover.

Like most of the population, I am, of course aware of the slave trade but what I didn't know was that this also involved the enslavement of vast numbers of white Europeans during the 1700's.

WHITE GOLD tells the tale, not just of Thomas Pellow, but the many who were captured not just at sea but also along the coasts of the United Kingdom, France, America and also, in particular, Spain to be sold as slaves in Morocco.

It was shocking enough to imagine the frightful conditions these men, women and children must have existed in but what shocked and saddened me most was the way in which the UK government at that time received those who, under terrible, prolonged torture, renounced their Christian beliefs and turned to Islam.

Undoubtedly well researched and written, it was still quite a difficult read and not just because of the subject matter. The way in which the book was presented - with fairly small typeface, long paragraphs and nothing to break up the vast amount of print apart from the dozen or so pages of sketches that were collected together - could have been better. That said, it was still an interesting and, at times, inspiring read.

MY RATING: 4 out of a possible 5.

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