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Middle Passage  By  cover art

Middle Passage

By: Charles Johnson
Narrated by: Dion Graham
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Publisher's Summary

After the Confederacy falls, newly freed slave Rutherford Calhoun is eager to avoid marrying a prim schoolteacher and boards the first ship he finds moored at a New Orleans port. Unbeknownst to Calhoun, the vessel is a slave ship enroute to Africa. On the return trip, Calhoun is put to work as a cabin boy and quickly assists the newly captured slaves in revolting against the drunken crew. This compelling adventure is filled with a perfect blend of colorful narrative, historical romance and suspense.

©1990 Charles Johnson (P)2002 Recorded Books, LLC

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What listeners say about Middle Passage

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Unique Story, Wonderfully Told!

Middle Passage's plot is unlike anything I've encountered and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The protagonist in this first-person narrated novel is a great story-teller with an extraordinary background that gives him an erudite, down-home manner of speaking. His development over the course of the book was entertaining to witness. The actor who narrates the novel, Dion Graham, did an outstanding job! This is one example where I'm sure listening to a book left me more satisfied than I think reading would have.

5 people found this helpful

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Great book, convencing performance

What did you love best about Middle Passage?

This book is a great combination of intellectual imagination, artistic skill, and fun. The performer was very convincing in a complex and difficult first person novel where much depends on how the narrator is presented.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Middle Passage?

there are many, but one that stands out is when the protagonist has an encounter with a captive African god.

What about Dion Graham’s performance did you like?

Graceful move from profound philosophical ideas to playful sarcasm in African American intellectual vernacular.

If you could rename Middle Passage, what would you call it?

The fateful voyage of the Republic

Any additional comments?

I would like to hear more books by Charles Johnson. His book "Dreamer" about Martin Luther King Jr. would be a great pick.

5 people found this helpful

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Communism, Capitalism, & Charles Johnson

This is an outstanding work worthy of critical review next to such works as Foucault's Discipline & Punishment and Hutcheon's The Politics of Postmodernism. Not many great historiographic meta fictions exist to rival this one, and few there be that live to exceed its profound call to the issues of capitalistic enslavement and social injustice.

4 people found this helpful

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An Afro-American Treasure Island-like saga

In 1830, formerly enslaved, Rutherford Calhoun stows away on a ship sailing from New Orleans to avoid marriage. Little does he realize the consequences. An Afro-American Treasure Island-like saga ensues. In a mystical tale, Calhoun experiences the horrors of the middle passage, the shipment of captured men, women, and children from the west coast of Africa to a future of bondage in America. Throughout his ordeal, his previous life, the life of a black man in the antebellum United States, shapes his understanding of events and his responses.
The story has relevance for our times in reflecting the current dilemma of black men and women in navigating a predominantly white world.
It is an easy read yet a compelling book.

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Mixed review

The story itself is good. The poetic prose and fast talk took a minute to get used to. The end was absolutely unexpected.

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Left with a lot to think about

A worthwhile listen, to be sure. And I'd probably listen a second time, compelled by the rich language and philosophical conflicts that come up in the story. But there is also something off: the protagonist feel anachronistic in both directions. He seems modern for the 1830s but dated for 2021. The last chapter was also a big letdown for me. Still, an overall compelling and artfully written novel.