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Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution

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Overview

The first and only successful slave revolution in the Americas began in 1791 when thousands of brutally exploited slaves rose up against their masters on Saint-Domingue, the most profitable colony in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world. Within a few years, the slave insurgents forced the French administrators of the colony to emancipate them, a decision ratified by revolutionary Paris in 1794. This victory was a stunning challenge to the order of master/slave relations throughout the Americas, including the southern United States, reinforcing the most fervent hopes of slaves and the worst fears of masters.

But, peace eluded Saint-Domingue as British and Spanish forces attacked the colony. A charismatic ex-slave named Toussaint Louverture came to France's aid, raising armies of others like himself and defeating the invaders. Ultimately Napoleon, fearing the enormous political power of Toussaint, sent a massive mission to crush him and subjugate the ex-slaves. After many battles, a decisive victory over the French secured the birth of Haiti and the permanent abolition of slavery from the land. The independence of Haiti reshaped the Atlantic world by leading to the French sale of Louisiana to the United States and the expansion of the Cuban sugar economy.

Laurent Dubois weaves the stories of slaves, free people of African descent, wealthy whites, and French administrators into an unforgettable tale of insurrection, war, heroism, and victory. He establishes the Haitian Revolution as a foundational moment in the history of democracy and human rights.

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Editorial Reviews

Christian Science Monitor
In this exhaustively researched and valuable account, Laurent Dubois, a history professor at Michigan State, looks back to the founding of Haiti...Dubois, writing in an accessible style and with a wide-ranging focus, has done an impressive job depicting the tumultuous founding of Haiti. Readers wanting to place the Caribbean nation's current struggles in a larger historical context will find Dubois an eminently worthwhile resource.
Chuck Leddy
Harper's
A] sinuous and stirring account of 'the largest slave revolt in the history of the world, and the only one that succeeded.
John Leonard
Los Angeles Times Book Review
A stern and brilliant new book...The Haitian Revolution, in all its ugliness and brutality, was the response of the oppressed, indentured and enslaved to their unjust condition. And it is this whirling and chaotic world that Dubois so vividly brings to life in Avengers of the New World and so accurately deconstructs...Dubois starts this book about war with chapters about love, death, books and graveyards. His discussions of interracial love affairs and the attitudes of slaves both toward death among slaves and toward death among masters are riveting and eloquent. Indeed, Dubois' literary sensibility informs the book from start to finish, so that at its beginning as well as its end, the reader feels as if the story must be fiction, yet it is not...Dubois calls Haiti a nation 'founded on ashes,' and he has written splendidly about the fires, both political and cultural, that lit up the land during the days of revolution and that are still, in a sense, burning today.
Amy Wilentz
Library Journal
Like many other books (e.g., David Geggus's The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World), Dubois's analyzes the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1803, the largest and only successful slave revolt in history, responsible for transforming the Caribbean's richest colony into the first independent nation in Latin America. Dubois (history, Michigan State Univ.) asserts that the events of the revolt and their results in Haiti symbolized that the rights proclaimed in "France's 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen were indeed universal." He sees the Haitian Revolution as a "uniquely transcultural movement." Unlike other authors, he places the violence of this massive uprising in context, validating its complexity; analyzes its participants regardless of their racial designations-white, mulatto, or black; and focuses on the political schemes that surfaced at the different phases of the revolution. Clearly written, well researched, and with excellent notes, this work would be useful for researchers, since Dubois's intent is to "spur the imagination as well as to invite response and revision." Recommended for anyone interested in Caribbean history and slavery.-Edward McCormack, Univ. of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Lib. & Media Ctr., Long Beach Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674013049
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/29/2004
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.46 (h) x 1.26 (d)

Meet the Author

Laurent Dubois is Professor of History and Romance Studies, Duke University.

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Table of Contents

Prologue 1
1 Specters of Saint-Domingue 8
2 Fermentation 36
3 Inheritance 60
4 Fire in the Cane 91
5 New World 115
6 Defiance 132
7 Liberty's Land 152
8 The Opening 171
9 Power 194
10 Enemies of Liberty 209
11 Territory 231
12 The Tree of Liberty 251
13 Those Who Die 280
Epilogue: Out of the Ashes 302
Notes 309
Index 349
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