Spain in the sixteenth century was the dominant European power. Yet, along the coasts, Spanish farmers and fishermen lived in constant fear, the victims of regular kidnapping raids by North African corsairs. In this detailed study, Ellen G. Friedman examines this undeclared state of siege that would continue for two hundred years and perpetuate the centuries-old struggle of Christianity and Islam. Drawing on original archival sources, anecdotal materials, and computer analysis, she vividly documents the North African dependence on Spanish hostages, the experiences of Christian captives, and the officially-sanctioned efforts to free them. The result is a fresh perspective on Spain in its Golden Age, and a seminal study of European slaves in Africa.