Synopses & Reviews
On June 28, 1839, the Spanish slave schooner Amistad set sail from Havana on a routine delivery of human cargo. On a moonless night, after four days at sea, the captive Africans rose up, killed the captain, and seized control of the ship. They attempted to sail to a safe port, but were captured by the U.S. Navy and thrown into jail in Connecticut. Their legal battle for freedom eventually made its way to the Supreme Court, where their cause was argued by former president John Quincy Adams. In a landmark ruling, they were freed and eventually returned to Africa. The rebellion became one of the best-known events in the history of American slavery, celebrated as a triumph of the legal system in films and books, all reflecting the elite perspective of the judges, politicians, and abolitionists involved in the case. In this powerful and highly original account, Marcus Rediker reclaims the rebellion for its true proponents: the African rebels who risked death to stake a claim for freedom.and#160;Using newly discovered evidence, Rediker reframes the story to show how a small group of courageous men fought and won an epic battle against Spanish and American slaveholders and their governments. He reaches back to Africa to find the rebelsandrsquo; roots, narrates their cataclysmic transatlantic journey, and unfolds a prison story of great drama and emotion. Featuring vividly drawn portraits of the Africans, their captors, and their abolitionist allies, he shows how the rebels captured the popular imagination and helped to inspire and build a movement that was part of a grand global struggle between slavery and freedom. The actions aboard the Amistad that July night and in the days and months that followed were pivotal events in American and Atlantic history, but not for the reasons we have always thought.and#160;The successful Amistad rebellion changed the very nature of the struggle against slavery. As a handful of self-emancipated Africans steered their own course to freedom, they opened a way for millions to follow. This stunning book honors their achievement.and#160;
The missing link in the chain of American slavery
For three centuries slave ships carted millions of people from the coasts of Africa across the Atlantic to the Americas. Much is known of the slave trade and the American plantation system, but little of the ships that made it all possible. In The Slave Ship, award-winning historian Marcus Rediker draws on thirty years of research in maritime archives to create an unprecedented history of these vessels and the human drama acted out on their rolling decks. He reconstructs in chilling detail the lives, deaths, and terrors of captains, sailors, and the enslaved aboard a floating dungeon trailed by sharks. From the young African kidnapped from his village and sold into slavery by a neighboring tribe to the would-be priest who takes a job as a sailor on a slave ship only to be horrified at the evil he sees to the captain who relishes having a hell of my own, Rediker illuminates the lives of people who were thought to have left no trace.
This is a tale of tragedy and terror, but also an epic of resilience, survival, and the creation of something entirely new. Marcus Rediker restores the slave ship to its rightful place alongside the plantation as a formative institution of slavery, a place where a profound and still haunting history of race, class, and modern economy was made.
Much is known of the American slave trade, but little of the ships that had made it all possible. Award-winning historian Rediker draws on 30 years of research in maritime archives to create an unprecedented history of these vessels and the human drama acted out on their rolling decks.
In this widely praised history of an infamous institution, award-winning scholar Marcus Rediker shines a light into the darkest corners of the British and American slave ships of the eighteenth century. Drawing on thirty years of research in maritime archives, court records, diaries, and firsthand accounts, The Slave Ship
is riveting and sobering in its revelations, reconstructing in chilling detail a world nearly lost to history: the ?floating dungeons? at the forefront of the birth of African American culture.
The riveting account of the slave ship rebellion told for the first time from the slavesandrsquo; perspective
The slave ship Amistad set sail from Havana on July 2, 1839, on a routine delivery of human cargo. A few days into its voyage, the fifty-three African captives aboard would seize control and steer a new courseandmdash;one that took them to freedom and ultimately into history.
Though the Amistad rebellion has been celebrated in films and books, its story has largely been told through the eyes of white abolitionists, with the Supreme Court victory by the Africans as the ultimate triumph. Now, Marcus Redikerandrsquo;s captivating new history turns the lens on the Africans themselves. Using the story of their horrific plight back to the roots of their shared culture a continent away, he reframes the Amistad story as a crucial moment in the great chain of resistance stretching from the earliest slave revolts through the civil rights struggles of the twentieth century.
About the Author
Marcus Rediker is a professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of The Slave Ship: A Human History
, winner of the George Washington Book Prize and the Merle Curti Award,and#160; and (with Peter Linebaugh) The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailor, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic.