White Gold and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

White Gold: The Extraordinary Story of Thomas Pellow and Islam's One Million White Slaves Paperback – June 13, 2006


See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$25.00 $4.98
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Hero Quick Promo
Browse in Books with Buzz and explore more details on selected titles, including the current pick, "The Good Girl" by Mary Kubica.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (June 13, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312425295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312425296
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #778,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

For this harrowing story of white captives in 18th-century Morocco, Milton (author of the highly praised Nathaniel's Nutmeg) draws primarily on the memoir of a Cornish cabin boy, Thomas Pellow, who was taken by Islamic pirates in 1716 and sold as a slave to the legendarily tyrannical Sultan Moulay Ismail. Pellow remained in Morocco for more than 20 years, his family barely recognizing him when he at last escaped home. Placing Pellow's tale within wider horizons, Milton describes how, during the 17th and 18th centuries, thousands of European captives were snatched from their coastal villages by Islamic slave traders intent on waging war on Christendom. Put into forced labor and appalling living conditions, they perished in huge numbers. As a pragmatic convert to Islam, Pellow fared better, earning a wife who bore him a daughter. Milton includes Pellow's years as a soldier in Moulay Ismail's army and draws out his cliff-hanging escape back to England. Pellow's sensational tale dominates the book, and though rendered in seductively poised prose, in the end it feels short on ideas and argument. Milton also fails to cite other historians working in this area (a prime example being Linda Colley). 16 pages of b&w illus. not seen by PW; 2 maps.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The horrors of the transatlantic slave trade have been extensively documented in print and eloquently portrayed on film and television. But chattel slavery was a well-established African as well as European institution, and its victims were not exclusively people of color. In the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries, the Barbary states of North Africa used Islamic pirates, or corsairs, to conduct slave raids, which fed the flourishing slave markets of Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. Many of the enslaved were white Europeans or North Americans captured at sea. Among them was Thomas Pellow, an 11-year-old English child who was seized in 1716 and served for 23 years as a personal servant to Sultan Moulay Ismail of Morocco. Milton relates Pellow's compelling story as a triumph of wile, pluck, and endurance; but this is also a tale of great brutality and suffering, as Milton eloquently shows that all of the indignities one associates with European and American slavery were visited upon those held in North Africa. A riveting account. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

www.gilesmilton.com

'The master of narrative history' - Sunday Times.

Giles Milton is an internationally best-selling author of narrative non-fiction. His books include Nathaniel's Nutmeg - serialized by the BBC - and seven other critically acclaimed works of history. Giles Milton's debut thriller, The Perfect Corpse, will be published on 2 September 2014.

Giles lives in London, UK, with his wife, the illustrator Alexandra Milton, and three daughters.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
30
4 star
12
3 star
2
2 star
0
1 star
0
See all 44 customer reviews
It is reassuring that good overcomes evil.
David Schotanus
The author has a very engaging writing style that makes for pleasant reading of historical topics.
David Stapleton
This book is a wonderful read about forgotten history.
Walter Ryan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 62 people found the following review helpful By A. Woodley on June 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Did you know that Arab slave traders used to pluck villagrs and fishermen from the coast of Britain and take them off to serve in slavery in the Islamic world. I didn't even know that this trade existed, and in fact it continued into the eighteenth century - this little known fact has been turned into another compelling history by Giles milton

He tells this story mostly from the records remaining about Thomas Pellow, an 11-year-old English child who was seized in 1716 and served for 23 years as a personal servant to Sultan Moulay Ismail of Morocco. However Pellow provides a background for the slave trade in general. It seems to be a very good choice of subject. He was young enough to assimilate to a greater extent with his new owners - learnign the language and customs quickly. He was also smart and plucky enough to get himself out of all kinds of situations which would have meant instant death for many. The value of life was not that great.

For the rest of Pellow's crewmates there was little hope and many served in appalling circumstances and died there labouring on the immense palaces the Moulay wanted to build.

Most extraodinary is the almost catch 22 the prisoners found themselves in, if they converted to Islam they would not be eligible for ransom by their government, however if they didn't convert they were almost sure to die in appalling conditions.

Milton writes without turning this into a tabloid-style history - it is balanced and interesting, he doesn't linger on the horrors, keeping to the story. I think this makes it strongger, and I found this book a real page turner - following Pellow's captivity and eventual daring gives it structure and the research fills in the background - my highest recommendation
6 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Radoko on June 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I found this book in Dar es Salaam bookstore. Fascinating history of the well kept secret of white slaves in North Africa. None of our history books note that this is the reason the US Navy was sent to whip the Barbary pirates. Probably too embarrassing to admit that there was a time that Europe and the US was impotent in this white slave trade. Well written but not for the weak of heart.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By D. White on September 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If you are like me, you have only heard of the Barbary Pirates briefly mentioned in history classes as an aside when discussing Jefferson. I had no idea that the pirates raided as far away as England, Iceland, and Russia.

This book is deeply fascinating not only because it is the first many of us have heard about this form of white slavery, but it also gives a fascinating look at the Moulay Ismael dynasty in Morocco. While this look is limited by telling the story through Thomas Pellows' experiences, it is fascinating to get a glimpse of an absolute ruler who had even more power and lived in more grandeur than Louis XIV.

The only way to improve the book would be to include more information on how the pirate raids and the enslavement of the English merchants and villagers affected and changed English government and society.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. Sharpe on August 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is an amazingly interesting book. I couldn't put it down. Myself and many of my friends had no idea this was a part of European/Islamic history. Some feel this isn't for the faint hearted.

One reviewer wrote, "Does this sound uncomfortably familiar? Like some Islamic extremists of today, the Sultans laughed about holding Europe to ransom. They were rarely met with force." History does indeed repeat itself.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Martin on March 10, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having heard of this book from friends, I checked it out before purchase as there are nowadays many examples of history being rewritten for what might be termed "politially correct" reasons.

Indeed this book may soon be unavailable due to those reasons. It could be construed that this account of slavery might cause offense to Muslims, though none of the Muslims I know personally would be so offended. But one of the motivations for me to buy this book was the "review" by the (Islamic?) correspondent of the Washington Post, which you kindly reproduce. Viewing this distainful dismissal was for me most revealing and may (I hope) encourage others to make this purchase also.

They will be rewarded by an account of a period of history which is being quietly swept under the carpet and out of sight.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Mr James Wilson on February 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
[...]
The book is an account of a largely forgotten period of European/North African history. I suspect the true extent of the horrors of the white slave trade were ignored by racist traditional European historians who didn't like the thought of North Africans getting one over them. There was an old Empire slogan "Brittania rules the waves", yet Milton's account shows that the Royal Navy couldn't stop the Barbary Corsairs until a decade after Trafalgar, and centuries after the Spanish Armada was defeated. Even the post-independency USA was a victim.

I suspect the story of the Barbary slave trade is largely ignored nowadays because the politically correct don't like to think of Europeans as being victims (certainly not of something as emotive as slavery). But the truth is often a messy, politically incorrect beast. We might not want to face up to it, but those who value truth think we should do so nevertheless.

Now to the book itself. It is a lively, engaging read. The only real criticism I have is the extent to which Milton takes his sources uncritically. There is little doubt in my mind that the original diaries and letters from which he draws his account would have been embellished. Slaves in captivity would have had a strong incentive to accentuate how bad their lot was, in order to maximise sympathy. Returned slaves would doubtless spice up their accounts to increase sales.

How much this casts doubt on the veracity of Milton's sources is something on which I am not qualified to comment. And perhaps more to the point, there seems little doubt (i) that large numbers were taken; and (ii) their conditions would have been extremely poor. A slave with decent food and lodging (which I doubt they received) is still a slave.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Customer Images

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Search