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.