An extraordinary and unforgettable story about Liberia and West Africa

When I saw the title of Captain Hank Bracker’s book, The History of Liberia & West Africa, I did not think it would be of much interest to me. I could not have been more wrong.

Bracker is a graduate of Maine Maritime Academy and has had some very interesting experiences and jobs. In the 1950s he navigated the rivers and sailed the coast of West Africa as the captain of a Farrell Lines coastal ship and worked as a harbor pilot for the Port of Monrovia. And he notes, “Although it seems like a lifetime ago that I left Liberia, my interest in the country has continued.” He also reports that he “watched in dismay as the country which showed so much promise went downhill, both politically and economically.”

Since Bracker was there, the country has suffered through two civil wars and an Ebola epidemic.

The book begins with our country’s extradition on hundreds of slaves to Liberia and West Africa. Throughout the centuries there has been murder, mayhem, horrible tragedies, and terrible suffering therre. I found it all to be both extraordinary and very troubling.

Occasionally our country intervened to stop the chaos, with limited success. It seems ironic that the country’s slogan is “The love of liberty brought us here.”

This book has won two history awards, and will be one that I never forget.








George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.