In the 1500s in Morocco, Mustafa ibn Muhammad is a kind older brother to his twin brothers and a successful merchant. But when he loses his position due to difficult times, he is forced to sell himself into slavery so that his mother and brothers will not starve. After several years he becomes part of an expedition to New Spain (today’s Southern U.S.A.) led by de Narvaez who plans to capture the land for the Spanish crown and become as famous as Cortes. But once they land in New Florida starvation and disease force the contingent to steal and plunder whatever they can from Indian tribes. Within a year only four have survived: Mustafa (who was reassigned a new name — Estebanico), his master, Dorantes, Cabeza de Vaco and Castillo. Will they ever be able to return to their native countries or will they too, die from disease or at the hands of Indians? This is a fascinating account seen through the eyes of Mustafa/Estebanico a desperate survivor who only hopes for his freedom from bondage.
This non-fiction book briefly examines the North’s attitude over the last 500 years. During colonialism the North claimed the rest of the world was empty and theirs to plunder; that nature was a non-entity from which to gain profit.
The focus however, is on the present under globalization and “free” trade agreements and how the North has patented plants and animals from the South in its quest for profit. What has been the impact on societies and the planet will astound any reader of this important book.
Once Sam completes a rescue mission in Burma during 1942, he heads to Rudrakot after a plea from his mother back in Seattle, to find out what happened to his brother. In Rudrokot, he boards with the local Tamil political agent where he is drawn to Mila, the agent’s daughter who is expected to marry the state’s prince. Battling the loss of his brother, his growing love for Mila, a wound from his time in Burma, and the prejudice the British and Indians hold against mixed relationships, Sam discovers he cannot win all he desires.