Synopses & Reviews
Following the widely acclaimed All Souls' Rising and Master of the Crossroads, Madison Smartt Bell gives us the climactic final chapter in the life of Toussaint Louverture, the legendary leader of the only successful slave revolution in history.
In 1791, what would become known as the Haitian Revolution began as a rebellion of African slaves against their white masters in the French colony of Saint Domingue. By 1793 Toussaint had emerged as the leader of the revolt, proving himself to be as adept at politics as he was on the battlefield. By 1801 he had succeeded in stabilizing the war-ravaged territory and invited exiled white planters, whose expertise was needed, to return and reclaim their properties. The foundation of a society based on liberty, genuine equality, and brotherhood among whites, blacks, and mulattos seemed in place. But the proclamation of a new constitution that abolished slavery and appointed Toussaint governor for life incited Napoleon to dispatch troops in order to reestablish control over the island.
The Stone That the Builder Refused spans the final phase of Toussaint's career and paints an astonish-ingly detailed and riveting portrait of a new society breaking forth from the chrysalis of a revolution, of the vision that impelled Toussaint to create a society based on principle and idealism, and of the dreadful compromises he was forced to make in order to
A masterly weave of the factual and the imagined, this grand culmination of Bell's landmark Toussaint Louverture trilogy stands alone as a towering achievement of historical fiction.
"Readers unfamiliar with the previous books in Bell's Haitian rebellion trilogy might feel like latecomers to an intense, raucous party in the first hundred pages of this final installment. Multiple characters and backstories form a somewhat opaque context for the events of 1802, when a French army commanded by Napoleon's brother-in-law, Leclerc, landed in Haiti (then called Saint Domingue) in an attempt to overthrow Toussaint's government and gradually restore slavery. The book moves from the burning of the town of Cap Francais ordered by one of Toussaint's generals, Christophe, in response to Leclerc's demand to submit to the war in the Haitian countryside, ending with Toussaint's unexpected surrender and his betrayal by Leclerc and Touissant's black generals Dessalines, Christophe and Maurepas. With a panoramic vision of battle reminiscent of Shelby Foote, Bell recreates the devastating counterstrokes the black generals devised against the French at Ravine Couleuvre and La Crte Pierrot. Through it all, he retains as a narrative anchor Doctor Hbert, who operates in both the worlds of the blanc and the ng. Bell intercuts scenes of the war in Haiti with Toussaint's terrible last days in a French jail in the Jura Mountains. This lends an air of unbearable pathos to this tangled, tragic history. In exploring the line between atrocity and liberation, Bell's novel is unexpectedly and powerfully relevant to our times. Agent, Jane Gelfman." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The Stone that the Builder Refused is the final volume of Madison Smartt Bells masterful trilogy about the Haitian Revolution-the first successful slave revolution in history-which begins with All Souls' Rising (a finalist for the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award) and continues with Master of the Crossroads. Each of these three novels can be read independently of the two others; of the trilogy, The Baltimore Sun has said, “[It] will make an indelible mark on literary history-one worthy of occupying the same shelf as Tolstoys War and Peace.”
About the Author
Madison Smartt Bell is the author of fifteen works of fiction, including Master of the Crossroads; All Souls Rising; Save Me, Joe Louis; Doctor Sleep; Soldier's Joy; and Ten Indians. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland with his family and teaches at Goucher College.