Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Amistad - A Novel
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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on May 18, 1998
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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on April 19, 1998
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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on November 25, 1999
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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on January 31, 2016
There are several histories of the slave uprising on the Spanish slave ship Amistad. I happened to be given this novel, which I though was fairly well written and stayed close to the facts, though I have not read the histories. It came out in 1997, the same year as the movie. The story is now well known, a group of Africans had been seized and sold by black slave traders to illegal Spanish slavers. They were resold in Cuba and put on the Amistad for further sale down island. They seized control of the ship, but were soon captured by an American Warship, which sailed them to Connecticut, where slavery was legal, hoping for salvage rights to ship, cargo and "slaves." Their case was taken up by abolitionists. The government was in the hands of Martin Van Buren and pro-slavery Democrats who wanted the case to go away before the November, 1840 election (which Harrison won, defeating Van Buren). The case was fought all the way to the Supreme Court, so it is an action drama and a courtroom drama. I found it worth reading.

Robert A.Hall
Author: The Coming Collapse of the American Republic
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on October 31, 1998
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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on May 2, 2000
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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on September 1, 2003
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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on September 1, 2003
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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on December 7, 2001
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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on April 14, 2003
If you're looking for an anti-slavery tome, read "Uncle Tom's Cabin". Harriet Beecher Stowe did a better job of writing her story and she did not confuse her readers by mixing historical fact with fiction.
Frankly, the writer does the slaves no service at all by their stereotyped portrayal. While the main character Cinque (sp?) is breathlessly described again and again as the noble ebony Adonis, the other slaves seem to suffer a bipolar disorder-- either they are sitting on the deck muttering among themselves, or they are jumping around hysterically, shrieking and waving their arms. Surely a more human portrait of the slaves would have been the more accurate.
Too often, authors who aspire to promote a noble cause wind up editorializing instead of writing and the resulting work becomes stale and lifeless. I'm sorry to say that Pescis book is more in this vein. "A Tale of Two Cities" it is not.
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