Published in 1729, Madagascar: or, Robert Drury's Journal, during Fifteen Years Captivity on that Island, describes the adventures of Robert Drury, an English sailor who was shipwrecked off the coast of Madagascar while still a teenager. After witnessing the massacre of his shipmates, he spent the next fourteen years living as a slave and fighting alongside the islanders in a world of enemy princes and raging civil wars. Rescued by an English ship at the age of twenty-nine, he returned to London but then made an extraordinary decision. He went back to Madagascar as a slave trader.
Nearly 300 years later, Mike Parker Pearson, an archaeologist investigating the unique burial customs of Madagascar's Tandroy people, came across Drury's journal, and became hopeful that it would turn out to be a useful historical source, which might assist him with his investigations. Previously believed to be a hoax written by the novelist Daniel Defoe, the journal could have proved useless to Parker Pearson's research. However, he headed for Madagascar, with a team of archaeologists and the journal, in order to understand more about the Tandroy people and to attempt to uncover the truth behind Drury's story.