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The Stolen Village: Baltimore and the Barbary Pirates Paperback – 18 Aug 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: O'Brien Press (18 Aug. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0862789559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0862789558
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 3.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 520,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'This is a gripping account that’s exhaustively researched but wears its learning lightly, and proceeds along at a lively pace . . . proof if it was needed, that fact is often more interesting than fiction' (Metro)

'Ekin is admirably surefooted as he finds his way through an impenetrable thicket of ­ often contradictory ­ sources and weaves his findings into an irresistibly readable narrative. Human interest is always well to the fore in a compelling book which also reminds us of the inexhaustible capacity of history to spring surprises.' (Scotsman)

'a harrowing tale that sheds light on the little-known trade in white slaves ... a fascinating exploration of a forgotten chapter of British and European history' (BBC History Magazine)

'Wonderfully interesting . . . A labour of love is how the author describes it, and after 350 easily read pages, it’s well worth the journey' (Irish Examiner)

'An enthralling read, not simply for the story of the raid itself, which Ekin recreates with bloodcurdling vividness, but for the parallels the author draws with the current geo-political situation' (Irish Times)

'one of the most compelling reads of the last decade' (Sunday World (Eire))

About the Author

Des Ekin is an Assistant Editor with The Sunday World. As well as researching investigative news articles, he writes a popular column that reaches more than a million readers every weekend. He was born in County Down, Northern Ireland and spent a decade reporting on Troubles in Northern Ireland before moving to Dublin, where he now lives with his wife and three children.


Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By MarkK TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 12 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback
Though the subject of considerable attention at the time, the raid on the Irish coastal village of Baltimore on June 20, 1631 is an event that has been long overlooked by most histories of the era. Yet as Des Ekin demonstrates in this absorbing book, it is an event that offers an interesting window into life in the early 17th century. While such raids were uncommon they were not unheard of, as Barbary pirates started ranging out into the Atlantic and raiding settlements along the coast. It was one of these raids which fell upon Baltimore, sacking the village and capturing over a hundred men, women, and children. These captives were then taken to Algiers, where they were sold into slavery, a fate few of them would ever escape.

Ekin's book is an entertaining account of this traditionally obscure event. A journalist and author of two novels, Ekin conducted considerable research to underneath the lives and experiences of the Baltimore captives. Where the directly relevant sources ended he turned to the accounts of others who dealt with the Barbary pirates or underwent similar experiences in an effort to understand better what life was like for the villagers of Baltimore. Though this occasionally comes across as padding, it results in a more generally informative portrait of the early 17th century, the economics of slavery, and life during those times.

Yet these strengths are offset by several problems. While his research into the village of Baltimore, the captives, and their lives is thorough, his coverage of the broader context is weaker, with descriptions of such groups as the Janissaries often dependent on a couple of dated sources that result in errors as a consequence.
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Format: Paperback
A very fine book indeed on a topic of increasing interest and relevance - the slave trade driven by the Barbary Corsairs resulted in over a million Europeans being taken into slavery, from Iceland to Spain.

The question of of captives and identity is a tragic one. Women and children in particular suffered badly, but over the years return becomes almost impossible - this is the case the world over. An old Kiowa woman who died in the 1920s only found out weeks before she died that she was white - all of her real family had been butchered by the people she thought were her real family.

The author doesn't try to mitigate the horrors of this slave trade - of any slave trade - and its consequences.
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This is a popular history written by a popular journalist. That provenance is evident in Des Ekin's patent effort to draw parallels between the Corsair raid on 17th century Baltimore (Eire) and jihadi attacks in our contemporary world. Editorial varnishing apart: it was a great pleasure to read this book. Ekin does traverse the gaps in the historical record by strewing his text with actual accounts from other captives who wrote from somewhat similar circumstances. (But I experienced that more as bounce than padding.) And the author never lets the reader lose sight of the fact that he is speculating; moreover, speculation is what it clearly is---not confabulation; and, whenever he can, Ekin sticks closely to the path beaten by more scholarly works. (Ekin closes the book with a brilliant hunch that may have been missed by the actual scholars) He is a confident, skilful, and reflective writer whose prose carries the reader like a wave carries the surf. Another reviewer has found some parts of the book to be dependent on outmoded sources. That may very well be true, but it matters little to me because I knew nothing at all about this historical incident; and, though the picture I now have may be subject to revision it inspires me to further reading (particularly about the pirate republics, and their codes, and their possible influence on the founders of the United States).
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Format: Paperback
This is an amazing book chronicalling a rarely spoken of history of white slavery. Although the writer focuses on the fates of the villagers of Baltimore his wide lens views the lives of many white English and European slaves and the decadent playground of North Africa with its fearsome pirate hordes.He paints a real breathing picture of the harems,jails, societies cities, and high seas of the time.I took this book on a holiday to Morocco enjoying the link geographically with the events in this book so perhaps I'm particular biased, but it was a fantastic read and I highly reccomend it.
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Format: Paperback
When I was in primary school our class learned the poem "The Sack of Baltimore" for a competition (we won!). It was based on the kidnapping by Algerian slave traders of a large number of inhabitants of the West Cork village of Baltimore in the 17th century. As a youngster the story seemed a bit far-fetched to be true and I forgot about it. However this event certainly did happen and Des Ekin has written this book based on it.

He first describes Baltimore before the raid. It was interesting to learn that most of the people captured were descendants of Protestant English West Country settlers. He also describes the tension between the settlers and a local Irish Catholic landowner, who wanted control of the village and it's fishing trade. Later he speculates that the raid may have been caused by those tensions.

His description of the raid is well written and he gives a good idea of the tension, terror and brutality of the raid.
He also gives the background of the Dutch born Algerian based captain who planned and led the raid. It was not uncommon for "Western" sailors to become involved in the lucrative North African slave trade.

There is very little known about what actually happened to the Baltimore residents once they reached Algiers. In place of this the author has used accounts from other enslaved westerners to describe in a speculative way the way they might have lived. He gives us interesting accounts of life for both slaves and freemen in Algiers at the time. However he has to constantly state that these accounts are not specifically related to the Baltimore residents. In my opinion this takes away from their effect and gives the impression that the length of the book was being padded out.
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