A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels
By Kevin Young (Compiled by)
Knopf Publishing Group, Paperback, 9780375711619, 249pp.
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
List Price: $19.95*
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Based on the 1840 mutiny on board the slave ship "Amistad, Ardency" begins with "Buzzard," a sequence of poems told in the voice of the interpreter for the captive rebels, who were jailed in New Haven. In "Correspondence," we encounter the remarkable letters to John Quincy Adams and others that the captives wrote from jail. The book culminates in "Witness," a libretto chanted by Cinque, the rebel leader, who yearns for his family and freedom while eloquently evoking the Amistads' conversion and life in America. As Young conjures this array of characters, interweaving the liberation cry of Negro spirituals and the indoctrinating wordplay of American primers, he delivers his signature songlike immediacy at the service of an epic built on the ironies, violence, and virtues of American history.