Review: The Stolen Village

The Stolen Village by Des Ekin

Browsing the clearance aisle in my local Barnes & Noble I had come across this title a few times.  Each visit I would pick the book up, read the back, then place it back on the shelf.  After maybe three different visits, I finally decided to purchase this book.  I am glad I finally made the decision to buy this book.

The Stolen Village is a well written history of the 17th century raid on Ireland.  Within a few hours the lives of over 100 men, women, and children drastically changed when Barbary pirates invaded their hometown of Baltimore, Ireland.  The villagers where taken captive and later sold in the slave market in Algiers, Africa.

What a mesmerizing story!  Almost every time I read this book, I would put it down and continue to think about the story unfolding.  Several times I would ask myself why I was reading this story as some of the details were mind boggling; such as the varying histories of Sultans and how they treated their slaves and countrymen, and examples shared of similar stories about slaves being transported by sea.  Des Ekin, in order to tell a most accurate tale, researched several other raids similar to this one and used the survivors’ words to paint a picture of what might have happened to the Baltimore people.  He also gave detailed information about the history of Algiers and the rise and fall of some of the Sultans in that time period.  Mixed with these accounts, the author also includes a few correspondences about the raid that were sent during that time.

Since this book is written as history, the overall Baltimore story is cut into pieces.  The story of the Baltimore villagers isn’t a continual tale.  Instead in-between the story you will find pockets of informational data.  These pockets help build a foundation to the story and how it might have been for the people of Baltimore.  So if you are interested in reading an emotional continual tale about people, you will not find that in this book.  Instead you will find multiple references to factual information that supports the theories of the author.  Information that spans centuries and that gives background information as to why the author believes certain things happened.  This does not take away from the story but instead enhances it and as it gives you an overall look into the traditions and people of that time period.  This gives you insight as to what the villagers, the pirates, and even the people of Algiers might have felt or witnessed at the time of the raid.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in history.  And due to the material’s mature content, I would recommend readers be of high school level or above.  For those readers who enjoy the flowing emotional aspect of a story, this might not be the book for you.  For this story is told about the people from an observers lens and not so much from the characters point of view; plus, the tale is mixed with historical data that takes you to different dates, times, and places not associated with the Baltimore raid.

Personally I was touched by the story and I also learned a lot about the lives of those who lived during the 14 through 17th centuries.

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