My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Royall Tyler's "Barbary captive" narrative has the distinction of being known as the United States' first novel, and it's still a good read today for its take on events in the early republic. Supposedly it's the tale of a young New England doctor named Updike Underhill, who unknowingly signs aboard a slaver as ship's surgeon, only to end up captured by Algerian pirates and sold as a slave himself.
Royall Tyler uses the novel format as an opportunity to make statements about the horrors of American and African slavery, comment on life as a Christian in Muslim North Africa, and poke fun at some of the political and educational standards of his time.
For a writer of historical fiction, these works contemporary to the period in which one is writing can be a valuable research tool. I would recommend The Algerine Captive to anyone interested in the history of the early American nation.
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