• The Last Slave Ship

  • The True Story of How Clotilda Was Found, Her Descendants, and an Extraordinary Reckoning
  • By: Ben Raines
  • Narrated by: Kevin R. Free
  • Length: 8 hrs and 10 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (143 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The incredible true story of the last ship to carry enslaved people to America, the remarkable town its survivors founded after emancipation, and the complicated legacy their descendants carry with them to this day—by the journalist who discovered the ship’s remains.

Fifty years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed, the Clotilda became the last ship in history to bring enslaved Africans to the United States. The ship was scuttled and burned on arrival to hide evidence of the crime, allowing the wealthy perpetrators to escape prosecution. Despite numerous efforts to find the sunken wreck, Clotilda remained hidden for the next 160 years. But in 2019, journalist Ben Raines made international news when he successfully concluded his obsessive quest through the swamps of Alabama to uncover one of our nation’s most important historical artifacts.

Traveling from Alabama to the ancient African kingdom of Dahomey in modern-day Benin, Raines recounts the ship’s perilous journey, the story of its rediscovery, and its complex legacy. Against all odds, Africatown, the Alabama community founded by the captives of the Clotilda, prospered in the Jim Crow South. Zora Neale Hurston visited in 1927 to interview Cudjo Lewis, telling the story of his enslavement in the New York Times best seller Barracoon. And yet the haunting memory of bondage has been passed on through generations. Clotilda is a ghost haunting three communities—the descendants of those transported into slavery, the descendants of their fellow Africans who sold them, and the descendants of their American enslavers. This connection binds these groups together to this day. At the turn of the century, descendants of the captain who financed the Clotilda’s journey lived nearby—where, as significant players in the local real estate market, they disenfranchised and impoverished residents of Africatown.

From these parallel stories emerges a profound depiction of America as it struggles to grapple with the traumatic past of slavery and the ways in which racial oppression continue to this day. And yet, at its heart, The Last Slave Ship remains optimistic—an epic tale of one community’s triumphs over great adversity and a celebration of the power of human curiosity to uncover the truth about our past and heal its wounds.

©2022 Ben Raines. All rights reserved. (P)2022 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about The Last Slave Ship

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Wow. Just Wow.

This is a powerful and heartbreaking story, and one that needs to be told far and wide. The layers of racial injustice that are revealed in the telling of the story of this group of slavery victims is overwhelming. This is a history we all need to know.

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Very much appreciated!

Horrifying, enlightening, educating, and redeeming! Well done Ben! Let the healing and redemption begin! Thanks so very much!

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Compelling story powerfully written

This compelling story is written with respect, power, and enthusiasm. Kudos to Raines’ scholarship & lively storytelling. He tells both the immediate story of the Clotilde and the immense story of humanity and the world.

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Amazing

a must for anyone that navigates and explores the Mobile Bay Delta..as you can tell a new/different feeling when going down these precious rivers..

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Lost information found

It was very informative and gave a lot of history I had heard some information but that this much. Thanks for adding to my knowledge. Will try an keep on top to see what happens.

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WOW! Wonderful!

I've heard of the Clotilda and Africatown but this was an excellent telling of the story. Not only does Ben Raines detail the steps leading to the discovery of the Clotida, but he explains the history of the people who were captives on the ship, the communities involved in Africa and America, and even the surprising ripple effects the story has had on the descendants of those involved. Excellent book!

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Informative, makes me want to learn more!

The psychology of being embarrassed by their past was what drew me to the book. Unable to walk in their shoes I could not understand however carrying the experience of their ancestors who were captured, degraded and treated less than human made it make sense. I hope those descendants recognize the strength of their families will forever be a shining light on their spirits.

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Last Slave Shop

Im originally from Montgomery, AL and was not very familiar with this story other than the name of the ship. I saw a documentary on National Geographic regarding the story and it really sparked my interest. I thought the overall story and performance was excellent. Its a part of history and a must listen. I also bought copies of the hard cover for family.

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If your serious in your study of True American history

This book has been amazing for my journey in studying American history and the slave trade. It was informative, yet personable. I feel like I’ve gotten to know former slaves personally. My heart breaks at what has happened and by the end I’m reminded that there is always redemption available! I wish everyone would hear this book! Thank you for all your hard work in finding the the last slave ship and it’s descendants!