Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Michael H. Cottman takes readers on a four-year odyssey across four continents for the purpose of discovering his ancestors and what it meant to be on a slave ship. Featured here is the Henrietta Marie.

It’s a bitter history but one vitally important for our future. Although the Henrietta Marie took only two voyages before succumbing to a storm off Key West, Florida at the turn of the 18th century, many other ships added to the staggering number of Africans taken from their homes and families.


Men brought the highest money at auction, followed by women, boys, and girls. The conditions of transport were horrific and shackles of every size (even child size) were used to make sure you didn’t think about escaping. It’s an emotional journey for Mr. Cottman, an African-American and an accomplished scuba diver.

Travels to England, Jamaica, and Africa tell the story both above ground and in the ocean where these atrocities took place. No matter what your racial origin, you will have trouble understanding as to how anyone could treat another human being in this way. It’s a cry for all of us to stand up against prejudice and never have this happen in our future.

A thoughtful epilogue encourages youngsters to learn about our collective past through engaging in careers focused on our underwater ecosystem.  Four pages of color photographs, a timeline, map, and further reading resources provide a light to the history of this event.

The author previously wrote of this same topic in a book for adults, THE WRECK OF THE HENRIETTA MARIE. This new narrative is for middle grade readers and above. Heartbreaking and compelling, it’s a journey we should all take.


Comment below for your chance to win a hardback copy of SHACKLES FROM THE DEEP and an ARC of CROSSING THE LINE. I revealed the cover for Bibi Belford’s upcoming historical novel last Wednesday.


The winner will be drawn Valentine’s Day at 8 pm EST. Good luck to all.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Giveaways, non fiction, Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. danielle hammelef says:

    This book sounds amazing and tackles such a difficult subject. I wish I had a book like this when i was in school to gain a better understanding of this time in our history. I can’t even imagine how much pain emotional and physical these people went through all because of greed. For that I am blessed. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of one of these books.

  2. Denise Pyra says:

    Oh my! I must read this even if I don’t win.

  3. Sounds like a powerful book. It’s unbelievable the things humans do to each other. Great review!

  4. This is my first time hearing about Shackles from the Deep. Sounds like a book we should all read. It breaks my heart to think about it.

    Thanks for sharing and for the great giveaway!

  5. I hadn’t seen this book before. It looks like a terrific one. Thanks for telling me about it.

  6. John Smith says:

    This sounds amazing, and National Geographic books are such high quality. And I see “Crossing the Line” is from Sky Pony–also very highly regarded! These books would be so fascinating to look at! Thank you for the contest! I’m afraid that the bitter political situation and mostly one-sided partisanship in the United States largely comes from the fact that so many still refuse to face and accept slavery’s ongoing legacy.

  7. Pingback: CYBILS Time is Almost Here! | Always in the Middle…

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