From School Library Journal
YA?In August 1839, Singbe-Pleh, a Mende tribesman, led his fellow African captives aboard the Spanish ship Amistad in a successful revolt. The Africans took over the ship but could not sail it back to Africa. They were captured and put on trial in Connecticut, initiating a chain of events that strained diplomatic relationships between the United States and Spain and intensified the bitter debate over the issue of slavery. The case was politically charged, with pro-slavery President Van Buren's administration wanting to give the Africans to Spain, abolitionists rallying for their freedom, and former President John Quincy Adams eventually defending them before the Supreme Court. Pesci deftly blends the facts of this fascinating historical episode with story. He accurately portrays events while creating memorable characters such as Singbe-Pleh, known later as Joseph Cinque, who towers over his captors with dignity and reason. The author uses the revolt and its aftermath to examine the American legal system and, more importantly, attitudes toward slavery in the 19th century. Some readers will see parallels to the intricate and sometimes confusing working of today's legal system, and also to contemporary racial attitudes. The narrative ends with the return of the Africans to their homeland, and a short epilogue ties up loose ends with short biographical sketches. A valuable addition to historical fiction collections.?Susanne Bardelson, Wheat Ridge Public Library, Jefferson County, CO
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Courtney B. Vance gives a solid but uninspired reading of Pesci's novel of the 1839 slave revolt. A group of native Africans take over their slave ship only to be captured by the U.S. Navy and subjected to years of imprisonment and trial. The litigation reaches its climax in a stirring defense by ex-president John Quincy Adams before the Supreme Court. The story is familiar because of the recent Steven Spielberg film, but the novel provides much more detail, at turns inspiring and ironic as the Africans weather disappointment and ill-treatment from friend and foe alike. The audiobook's primary flaw is lack of focus; the recording simply fails to place the leader of the revolt, Cinque, in a strong enough position at the center of the story. This abridgment preserves many of Pesci's digressions but allows pertinent material to fall through the cracks. Though Vance performs the dialog with care, he allows his narration to lapse too frequently into a brooding monotone, leaving a flawed retelling of a story that nonetheless deserves to be heard. With mixed feelings, this is recommended, especially for public libraries.AJohn Owen, Advanced Micro Devices Lib., Santa Clara, CA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.