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Escape from Slavery: The True Story of My Ten Years in Captivity and My Journey to Freedom in America Hardcover – October 14, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Seven-year-old Francis Piol Bol Buk was living happily on his family's southern Sudan farm. One day in 1986, he was sent on errands to the marketplace. There, a slave raid ripped him from his contented life and threw him into a wretched existence serving under a northern Sudanese Arab. After he escaped at age 17, Buk made his way to Cairo with a black market passport incorrectly listing his name as Bok and became a U.N. refugee allowed to settle in the U.S. in 1999. Although he found contentment in Iowa among other refugees, the following year Bok decided to work with an American antislavery organization, and testified before Congress about the atrocities in Sudan. While this is a remarkable story, its power is conveyed most effectively through Bok's simple retelling. His sincerity compels, especially when he describes the decade of mistreatment he endured. After two failed escape attempts, he's told he'll be killed in the morning, and while bound, he thinks of the morning ahead: "I would be dead and finally through with this place and this family. My mind preferred death." Yet when his master changes his mind, Bok immediately starts plotting again. For all his emotional strength, though, Bok remains humble. He thanks God and everyone who helps him escape slavery. This is a powerful, exceptionally well-told story, equally riveting and heartbreaking. Although legal strides have been made, with the help of people like Bok, the persistence of slavery in the world makes this a work that can't be ignored. Maps, photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
As a seven-year-old boy growing up in the southern Sudan, Bok was caught up in a raid on a regional market center when marauders from the north set upon the market, killing the men and kidnapping the women and children to work as farm slaves. He went from a loving and supportive extended family to the brutality of slavery in a strange land and culture, dominated by Muslims who considered him a Christian infidel. After enduring 10 years of slavery, Bok escaped to freedom in Cairo, where he became a U.N. refugee, eventually making his way to the U.S. at the age of 21. Having learned Arabic in Northern Sudan and English in America, Bok, with incredible determination, became involved in the antislavery movement, speaking around the country while seeking to earn a high-school degree. Yet it is his simple account of being a child cut off from his family and culture that shows the inhumanity of slavery. Bok's saga provides another--more contemporary--perspective on slavery for Americans reckoning with their own troubling history of such inhumanity. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Frances saw adults and children brutally murdered and it was clear to him that fighting back would cause him to also be one of the casualties.
Frances was kept in a barn, given scraps of food to eat, refused any kindness. Even the children of his captor were horrible to him. What kept Frances going was the love that had been given to him before captivity and the belief that some of his family may have survived. Indeed, there is a bittersweet ending to Bok's story.
Frances, gratefully and amazingly, does escape and live to share his memoir. When I read this book last year, I participated on a message board. I tried to share this book with educated people who adamantly refused to recognize that this story isn't all that unusual. This is STILL happening today. The perpetrators of these crimes are from a culture that devalues those that are different. Slavery, genital mutilation, abuse to women, honor killings. . . it seems as if, although we hear of these stories on a daily basis, we are still reluctant to characterize the culture as faulty. And, so it continues.