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The Slave Ship Fredensborg Hardcover – November 22, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

How much do any of us know about the role of Denmark and Norway in the slave trade? A book published in Norway last year, now available in English, won't quite tell readers all they ever wanted to know about Norwegian slave traders, but it provides a fascinating first glimpse. The Fredensborg ferried slaves and sailors from Denmark and Norway to the Gold Coast, St. Thomas and St. Croix. It sank in 1768, off the coast of Norway, and Svalesen was a member of the team of divers who discovered its remains more than two centuries later. Here he looks at the actual workings of the slave shipDat Danes and Norwegians who married African women; at the "Negro dances" African slaves performed on board the ship; at how, in order to placate the slaves, the slave traders gave them brandy and tobacco on the trip from Africa to the Caribbean. The clunky translation gets in the book's way (the 1700s were "a time when much was different in comparison to modern criteria"). And Svalesen relies too much on Captain Ferentz's diary, quoting it for pages on end with little interpretation to help the reader. Moreover, though he offers other evocative details of daily life on the slaverDlike the list of clothes the captain brought on boardDhe never tells what we might learn from knowing that a "slightly worn gold-braided hat" and a pair of red slippers made it into Captain Kimnig's suitcase. The result is a book long on antiquarianism but short on history. The subject mighty seem an incongruous one for a gift book, but the volume is heavily and handsomely illustrated (64 b& w and 93 color illus.), and for readers who want an immediate sense of the horrific genesis of African-American history, this is an excellent choice. (Nov. 13)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

This remarkable account of Fredensborg's voyage from Denmark to the Gold Coast of Africa and then to St. Croix in what are now the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1768 was first published in Norway last years. The ship sank off the coast of Norway on the return trip, and in 1974 underwater archaeologist Svalesen was one of the divers who discovered the wreckage. Through accounts of the ship's logs and journals, he reconstructed the final voyage. The author also found African objects at the site of the wreck and talked with descendants of the slaves. Such details as a list of the ship's crew--12 died during the voyage--and their monthly salaries and the supplies of food and drink (rice, horse beans, brandy, beer, tapioca, barley groats, rock candy, fish, cheese, etc.) are included. After 205 days lying at anchor off the Gold Coast, the ship sailed to St. Croix with 26 slaves on board, all of them "burdened by grief and desperation." The captain's daily log re-creates the journey in engrossing detail, bringing to life the shame of slavery. George Cohen
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press (November 22, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253337771
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253337771
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.8 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,504,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By T. Carter Ross on April 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is essentially two books in one. The first two-thirds or so of it focus in depth on the ill-fated final voyage of the Fredensborg as it traveled from Denmark to Ghana to the Virgin Islands and back to Scandinavia, where it sunk off the coast of Norway. Because of the detailed logs and letters of the crew, a great deal of insight is given into the day-to-day shipboard life of the crew throughout the journey. The final third of the book traces the modern underwater archaeology involved in recovering the ship and journeys by the author to St. Croix and Ghana. Much of the second part of the book dwells on the fate of those who were enslaved and carried across the Middle Passage, something that is glossed over in the first part due to its reliance upon the crew logs, which made little mention of the ship's human cargo.
All in all, it is an interesting read because of the vast amount of detail included from the ship's logs and because very little seems to have been written in English about Dano-Norwegian involvement in colonization in the Americas and in the salve trade. Also in the book's favor are the lavish illustrations, including reproductions of the logs, period maps and sketches and contemporary photographs of the sites.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lars M Kvale on August 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading this book as I was traveling to St. Croix. It is written by a Norwegian amateur diver who found the wreck of the Slave Ship Fredensborg. He then went on a twenty year journey to trace the history of the ship (including detailed inventory records, diaries, personnel etc.) which traveled from Copenhagen to Ghana to St Croix before the wreck in Southern Norway. The book is a fascinating read and I highly recommend it if you want to learn more about that time period, Denmark, Norway, St Croix, Slave trade etc.
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By kandie taylor on February 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover
very informative
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