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White Gold: The Extraordinary Story of Thomas Pellow and Islam's One Million White Slaves Hardcover – Jun 2005

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 55 reviews
67 of 69 people found the following review helpful
First I ever heard of White Slavery from England 30 Jun. 2005
By A. Woodley - Published on
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
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
The well kept secret of white slaves 5 Jun. 2005
By Radokomahay - Published on
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.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating and informative look at forgotten or ignored era 23 Sept. 2005
By D. White - Published on
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.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Historical Account 10 Mar. 2007
By Martin - Published on
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.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
History Repeats - Islamic Extremists 11 Aug. 2006
By Angry - Published on
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.
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