Shackles From the Deep: Tracing the Path of a Sunken Slave Ship, a Bitter Past, and a Rich Legacy by Michael Cottman, National Geographic Children’s Books, US $17.99, Pp 128, January 2017, ISBN 978-1426326639
When a pile of lime-encrusted shackles was discovered on the seafloor in the remains of a ship called the Henrietta Marie; Michael Cottman, a Washington, D.C.-based journalist and avid scuba diver decided to take an amazing journey stretching across three continents. This book introduces young readers to the wonders of diving, detective work, and discovery, while shedding light on the history of slavery. Cottman says that slavery is not past, it is very much present. He has seen and still remembers the face of his great grandmother who was born into slavery.
Cottman traced Henrietta Marie’s journey from the first voyage in 1698 when the ship arrived in Barbados carrying 250 enslaved African people to 1700 when Henrietta arrived in Jamaica with 190 enslaved African people to its sinking the same year to its excavation; finding more shackles, pewter basins, cannonballs, elephant tusks, glass bottles, a musket, and an iron cannon.
Cottman says this is a story about how his love of swimming, and later deep-sea diving, led him on a journey to three continents as he helped uncover the mystery surrounding a little known 17th-century shipwreck . It’s about how he, along with others, piece together a 300-year old transatlantic puzzle that would teach him about himself – and where he came from. But more than that, it’s the untold story of millions of African people taken as captives to the New World, whose names and face have been erased and eradicated by time, distance, and history.
Shackles From the Deep is a very interesting read. It educates children on scuba diving, detective work, and discovery of history. It is a must read for all children as all other National Geographic titles. Reviewed by TWBR team