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White Gold: The Extraordinary Story of Thomas Pellow and North Africa's One Million European Slaves Paperback – 9 May 2005
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Writer and journalist Giles Milton specializes in the history of travel and exploration. His latest literary adventure, White Gold, is the story of Thomas Pellow, a Cornish cabin boy who was captured at sea by a group of fanatical Islamic slave tradersthe Barbary corsairs, taken in chains to the great slave markets of Algiers, Tunis and Salè in Morocco and sold to the highest bidder. Pellows purchaser happened to be the tyrannical sultan of Morroco, Moulay Ismail, a man committed to building a vast imperial pleasure palace of unsurpassable splendour built entirely by Christian slave labour. After enduring long periods of torture Pellow converted to Islam and became the personal slave of the sultan for over two decadesincluding a stint as a soldier in the sultans armybefore finally making a dramatic escape and return to Cornwall. The account is supported by the unpublished letters and manuscripts of slaves and the various ambassadors sent to free them. This is an excellently written account of the history of the white slave trade. Pellows story is an extraordinary one but the real interest lies in the picture Milton builds of life in the slave pens and especially of daily life at the court of the spectacularly barbaric Moulay Ismail. --Larry Brown --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Giles Milton has a gift for searching out odd and forgotten corners of history and turning them into bestselling books... this is not a dry history, but a full-blooded narrative closer in style to a historical novel than to an academic study. (William Palmer Literary Review)
Milton's story could scarcely be more action-packed, and its setting and subsidiary characters are as fantastic as its events. (The Sunday Times)
An extraordinary story which few people will be at all familiar with... an exciting and sensational account of a really swash-buckling historical episode (Philip Hensher, Spectator)
Giles Milton's narrative races along as he stitches together a story of heroism, sacrifice and misplaced zeal, painstakingly researched from contemporary writing and records (Observer)
Giles Milton... has crafted an inspiration for those of us who believe that history can be exciting and entertaining (The Times)
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I already knew a bit of this story - that Barbary corsairs raided the Cornish and Irish coasts in the seventeenth century for slaves, but I wasn't aware of the enormous scale of the Moroccan and Algerian white slave trade. Or that it continued up to the Congress of Vienna. And I had never heard of the dramatic incident that brought it to an end - a British fleet, massively armed thanks to Britain being in the first flush of the Industrial Revolution, pounding Algiers to rubble until the local sultan agreed to give up the trade.
And did you know that an abusive gesture used by Muslims to Christians was to raise the middle finger, to indicate that there was just one God? Anyway, a great read.
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