These memoirs of a Jesuit priest, captured and taken to Algiers in 1644, are a welcome addition to a growing scholarly library focusing on the massive commerce of West European slaves under Muslim regimes. In it, are devoted priests as well as priests who become drunkards and scoundrels; Christians who keep their faith and those who apostatize to escape their misery; horrible scenes of slaves piled up in dark dungeons, and picaresque tales of canny ones who trick and steal from drunken Muslims. As the Jesuit narrator observes, Algiers was the most corrupt of Barbary Coast cities and, therefore, offered opportunities to savvy captives.
Muslim raiders and rulers routinely pillaged the seas and coasts of Europe, as far as Ireland, searching for slaves and loot until, beginning in the nineteenth century, Europeans colonized North Africa and ended the raids and the trade. In Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters, Robert Davis estimates that 1.25 million European men, women, and children were traded just on the Barbary Coast between 1500 and 1800.
Expecting handsome ransoms, Muslim captors treated those from wealthy families relatively better than those less well-off although they too could be stripped naked, shackled, and malnourished. Young women, unless their families ransomed them, ended up as sexual slaves. Young men were often sodomized by their masters.
The book should be translated into English because it is a rich primary source on European slavery and on the Muslim rulers of the Barbary Coast and how they practiced Shari'a (Islamic law). It includes a learned introduction and indispensable notes by editor Maíllo Salgado, professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Salamanca, a foremost authority on Islamic law.
Although a comprehensive, scholarly history of the massive commerce of European slaves under Islamic regimes has yet to be written, Memorias del Cautiverio is an indispensable resource for those interested in this topic.
 London: Palgrave, 2004.