The Colony

  • by John Tayman
  • Narrated by Patrick Lawlor
  • 15 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In the best-selling tradition of In the Heart of the Sea, The Colony reveals the untold history of the infamous American leprosy colony on Molokai and of the extraordinary people who struggled to survive under the most horrific circumstances.In 1866, 12 men and women and one small child were forced aboard a leaky schooner and cast away to a natural prison on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. Two weeks later, a dozen others were exiled, and then 40 more, and then 100 more. Tracked by bounty hunters and torn screaming from their families, the luckless were loaded into shipboard cattle stalls and abandoned in a lawless place where brutality held sway. Many did not have leprosy, and most of those who did were not contagious, yet all were caught in a shared nightmare. The colony had little food, little medicine, and very little hope. Exile continued for more than a century, the longest and deadliest instance of medical segregation in American history. Nearly 9,000 people were banished to the colony, trapped by pounding surf and armed guards and the highest sea cliffs in the world. Twenty-eight live there still.
John Tayman tells the fantastic saga of this horrible and hopeful place, at one time the most famous community in the world, and of the individuals involved. The narrative is peopled by presidents and kings, cruel lawmen and pioneering doctors, and brave souls who literally gave their lives to help. A stunning cast includes the martyred Father Damien, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jack London, Mark Twain, Teddy Roosevelt, John Wayne, and more. The result is a searing tale of survival and bravery, and a testament to the power of faith, compassion, and heroism.

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Audible Editor Reviews

The Colony is a must-listen in all respects. John Tayman tells a riveting account of the life and history of the leper colony at Molokai. It is filled with shocking history, unforgettable heroes, celebrity cameos, political intrigue, and medical mysteries all woven into a story that is both exhilarating and dismal.Tayman charts not only the life of the colony, but the lives of a veritable cast of characters, both patients and non-patients: there are heroes here in Father Damien and John Early. Tayman also follows the main island and mainland politics that birthed and crippled the colony. And he tracks the progression of leprosy and the science of leprosy, from the Biblical mistranslation that stigmatized it to the microscopes that magnified the germs, and the cure.Along the way, Tayman introduces us to famous writers who visited Molokai: Mark Twain, Jack London, and Robert Louis Stevenson. These and other first-hand insights make Tayman's account convincing and accurate.Patrick Lawlor reads well, perfectly matching Tayman's pacing, bringing the despair and the heroism of this account fully to life.This is a dirty history of our country, of medicine, and of government. But in the end, it was a lesson well learned, one that has helped to avoid the same mistakes with other contagious diseases such as AIDS. Everyone should listen to this book for the very reason this type of history is taught: so that it does not repeat itself.

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What the Critics Say

"Tayman's crisp, flowing writing and inclusion of personal stories and details make this an utterly engrossing look at a heartbreaking chapter in Hawaiian history." (Booklist)
"Drawing on contemporary sources and eyewitness accounts of the still surviving members of the colony, Tayman has created a fitting monument to the strength and character of the castoffs in particular, and human beings as a whole." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Interesting

I liked this book quite a bit. Perhaps my positive assessment is bolstered by the fact that I "read" it while on my way to the island of Molokai. Having heard the story prior to gazing down upon that remote peninsula from 2,000 feet above is quite an experience. I also have a positive opinion of the reader, but he admittedly may be an acquired taste. Still, the book is shocking and engaging. The reader is left in the position of learning about the disease along with the real-life characters. It felt very real. I highly recommend the book.
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- Matt

Bad history lesson

I love a good historical novel, but this book is like the worst, most boring history lesson you ever had to endure. It throws dates, names, and events at you in a rushed, often disorganized manner, and devotes little to the character of the people it tells of. If you like to read facts and dates, you will probably like this one. But, if you want to feel history come alive, pass this one up.
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- Ricky

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-27-2006
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio