In the summer of 1716, a Cornish cabin boy named Thomas Pellow and fifty-one comrades were captured at sea by the Barbary corsairs.
Their captors - Captain Ali Hakem and his network of fanatical Islamic slave traders - had declared war on the whole of Christendom.
Thousands of Europeans had been snatched from their homes and taken in chains to the great slave markets of Algiers, Tunis and Sale in Morocco. Poked, prodded and put through their paces, they were sold at auction to the highest bidder.
Pellow and his ship-mates were bought by the tyrannical sultan of Morocco, Moulay Ismail. He was constructing the largest imperial pleasure palace in the world. It was being built entirely by Christian slave labour.
Thomas Pellow was to find himself a personal slave of the sultan. He would witness first-hand the barbaric splendour of the imperial court, as well as experience daily terror. For twenty-three years, he would dream of his home, his family and freedom. He was one of the fortunate few who survived to tell his tale.
Drawn from the narrative of Thomas Pellow, as well as the rediscovered letters and diaries of European slaves held captive in Morocco, White Gold recreates a forgotten episode in European history.
'A romping tale of 18th-century sailors enslaved by Barbary seafarers and sold to a Moroccan tyrant. It has all the usual Miltonian ingredients: swift narrative and swashbuckling high-drama laid on a bed of historical grit.’ Benedict Allen, The Independent, Books of the Year (2004).
‘Drawing on letters, journals and manuscripts written by the slaves . . . Milton has produced a disturbing account of the barbaric splendor of the imperial Moroccan court, which he brings to life with considerable panache…White Gold is an engrossing story, expertly told.’ Dan Neill, The Observer.
‘Extraordinary, eye-opening and most readable revelation of a dark place and shameful episode in our history.’ Peter Lewis, The Daily Mail.
‘Milton has ingeniously retrieved and polished a hidden nugget from the remarkable treasure house of British history.’ Tim Ecott, The Guardian.
‘Milton’s story could scarcely be more action-packed and its setting and subsidiary characters are as fantastic as its events… Milton conjures up a horrifying but enthralling vision of the court of Moulay Ismail.’ Lucy Hughes-Hallett, The Sunday Times.
‘White Gold is lively and diligently researched, a chronicle of cruelty on a grand scale… an unfailingly entertaining piece of history.’ Justin Marozzi, The Sunday Telegraph.
‘Extensively researched... an exciting and sensational account of a really swashbuckling historical episode.’ Philip Hensher, The Spectator.