Spirit Dive: An African American's Journey to Uncover a Sunken Slave Ship's Past

Cottman, Michael

Published by Three Rivers Press, 1999
ISBN 10: 0609805525 / ISBN 13: 9780609805527
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Synopsis: When prize-winning journalist and avid scuba diver Michael Cottman participated in an underwater expedition to survey the sunken wreck of a slave ship off the coast of Florida, he was overwhelmed by powerful feelings of kinship and oneness with his African ancestors. As he held in his hands the very shackles that had bound hundreds of men, women, and children in their tortured passage from their African homeland to America, Michael Cottman became determined to tell their stories and the story behind the ship that had carried them away from all they knew and loved.
        
Spirit Dive takes readers back three centuries and to three continents in order to trace the complex and moving story of the slaves and the slavers. We travel to England on the trail of the shipbuilders and the captain and his crew; to Goree Island, located off the westernmost extension of the African continent near Dakar, where the ship almost certainly docked and from which its enslaved passengers would have gotten their last view of their homeland; and to the Caribbean, where the Henrietta Marie sank without a trace--until its recent rediscovery gave us a tangible key to one of history's most terrible episodes.
        
Spirit Dive is a powerful and compelling testament of one man's attempt to make sense of the history of his ancestors, chronicling his journey while confronting questions with no answers and striving for reconciliation with his homeland's past and his own country's future.

Review: For most Afro-Americans, the slave ship was the vessel that ushered their unwilling ancestors from their homeland to the New World. That is why Michael Cottman's Spirit Dive resonates with such horror and history, as he uncovers the sordid tale of the Henrietta Marie, which sailed from London to West Africa and on to America, where it sank off the coast of Key West in 1700. In an emotional narrative that combines scuba diving; American, Caribbean, and African history; and underwater archeology, Cottman's descriptions of the ship's discovery, the horrible instruments of bondage the Africans were forced to endure, and the soul-killing greed that dehumanized the Europeans who participated in this hellish "business" make Spirit Dive an unforgettable read. "I needed to know about the man who had captained the Henrietta Marie," Cottman writes. "The ironmongers who had manufactured the shackles for the ship; the crewmen who had set the sails and helped navigate the 120-ton vessel from London to Africa; the deckhands who had enslaved the Africans as part of their daily duties, men who had showed no remorse in senselessly slaughtering rebellious human beings in the time it takes to think." --Eugene Holley Jr.

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Spirit Dive: An African American's Journey ...
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Publication Date: 1999
Book Condition: Good
Edition: 1st Pbk. Ed.

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Book Description Three Rivers Press, 1999. Softcover. Book Condition: Good. The author offers an account of the slave ship Henrietta Marie and its role in his ancestors' history. Book. Bookseller Inventory # 123517453

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