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Amistad Hardcover – May, 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Marlowe & Co; Film tie-in edition edition (May 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156924748X
  • ISBN-13: 978-2702810255
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,665,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 18, 1998
Format: Paperback
I recently finished an entire semester studying the Amistad mutiny, and Pesci's book was required reading. I read it both before the class began, and later in the semester; it didn't improve with time. Those portions of the story that Pesci did not fictionalize were interesting, but he writes in passive voice, which I found incredibly boring as well as frustrating. His descriptions of characters go on for paragraphs, and often serve no purpose other than to fill space; his adjectives are stale and overused. His stereotypical characters speak in modern slang that at times borders on the ridiculous. It is terribly distracting to have the captives look at one another and say, "We are in a world of sh--!" I agree with Pesci that it is difficult to write period dialogue, but he really should have made the effort. I suggest that anyone truly interested in this event investigate the many factual, well-written books available, including those written for children.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
I received this book as a gift and almost exchanged it for something else because I usually don't read historical novels. However, I decided to check-out the first few pages. They grabbed me and I quickly became completely fascinated with the story. Pesci does an excellent job of weaving in the numerous facts and personalities that inhabit this incredible incident. The writing is smooth (although the paperback copy I got had a few typos) and he moves easily from the action thriller that makes up the book's first part to the courtroom drama that ensues. Highly recommended, even if (like me) you are not generally one for history. I hope he writes something new soon.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 19, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I'm usually not big on history, but this was a gift so I decided to read until I got bored. I never did. In fact, it was one of those books that, as I got closer to the end, I didn't want it to end. It was a great story, well-written, and well-paced. Pesci made the transition from a thriller in the first few chapters to the legal drama that this incident became. He also put a human face on the participants, especially Sengbe Pieh and Roger Baldwin. Pehaps best of all, he interwined the exhaustive details and nuances of the Amistad event in such a way that it didn't feel like I was getting a history lesson. An excellent novel.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 31, 1998
Format: Hardcover
As a teacher of American History I found the novel by David Pesci to be interesting from a historical perspective. His research was impeccable. I thought the fictional character, the reporter, was an effective vehicle to unite all the separate pieces of the story. I have used this novel with students and they have enjoyed it. I gave the book only three stars because I do not think its literary style is as strong as it could have been.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John M on May 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is an interesting and well told account of the famous Amistad mutiny and trial. It is NOT the book the movie was based on, and I think Pesci does a better job of telling the story than Spielberg did. I picked it up in a small bookstore shortly after it was published and was presently surprised. However, there were typographical errors and sloppy editing which I found very distracting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
I became fascinated by the Amistad incident after seeing the Steven Speilberg movie (which is long on emotion but plays fast and loose with the facts). I have read all the available books on this subject, and while "Munity on the Amistad" by Jones should be considered the definitive non-fiction account it is far too academic in its presentation. Pesci's "Amistad" is a close second with its marshalling of the facts but second to NONE in their presentation. Though there are some composite charcters here, and the dialogue is imagined (no records exist of what was said outside of court), Pesci weaves the incident's many complex threads together while bringing to the forefront the humanity (or lack thereof) of everyone involved -- all while maintaining a increasingly escalating pace. One can only hope that he finds another historical event to treat in the same manner. This generation may have found its Gore Vidal. A gripping, outstanding read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
I became fascinated by the Amistad affair after seeing the Steven Speilberg movie (which is long on emotion but plays very fast and loose with the facts). While "Mutiny on the Amistad" by Jones is the definitive non-fiction account of this incident (factual, but very academic), I would put Pesci's novel "Amistad" a close second on its treatment of the facts, and second to NONE in its telling. There are some composite characters here and Pesci created most of the dialogue as there is no account of what was said outside of the court proceedings. However, Pesci sticks very close to the facts as they unfolded and uses history weave a tale that brings to life the human elements of this amazing event. Here's hoping that he turns his talents to some other historical episode. A gripping, thrilling read from start to finish.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lynn LaFountain on December 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Pesci, isn't just a writer, he is an artist who creates, through his words a manipulation of the senses. Amistad, took me into the belly of a slave ship, next to a dying child, to the height of rebellion. This man must not be overlooked as one of the great writers of our time.
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