The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World

The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World

by Greg Grandin
     
 

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From the acclaimed author of Fordlandia, the story of a remarkable slave rebellion that illuminates America's struggle with slavery and freedom during the Age of Revolution and beyond

One morning in 1805, off a remote island in the South Pacific, Captain Amasa Delano, a New England seal hunter, climbed aboard a distressed Spanish ship carrying

Overview

From the acclaimed author of Fordlandia, the story of a remarkable slave rebellion that illuminates America's struggle with slavery and freedom during the Age of Revolution and beyond

One morning in 1805, off a remote island in the South Pacific, Captain Amasa Delano, a New England seal hunter, climbed aboard a distressed Spanish ship carrying scores of West Africans he thought were slaves. They weren't. Having earlier seized control of the vessel and slaughtered most of the crew, they were staging an elaborate ruse, acting as if they were humble servants. When Delano, an idealistic, anti-slavery republican, finally realized the deception, he responded with explosive violence.
Drawing on research on four continents, The Empire of Necessity explores the multiple forces that culminated in this extraordinary event—an event that already inspired Herman Melville's masterpiece Benito Cereno. Now historian Greg Grandin, with the gripping storytelling that was praised in Fordlandia, uses the dramatic happenings of that day to map a new transnational history of slavery in the Americas, capturing the clash of peoples, economies, and faiths that was the New World in the early 1800s.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
03/15/2014
Grandin (history, New York Univ.; Fordlandia) tells the larger story of slavery in Spanish colonial America through focusing on a slave revolt on a ship off the coast of Chile in 1805. It's an episode most known to readers through Herman Melville's treatment of it in his novella "Benito Cereno" (1855), and Grandin does not lose track of Melville here. Amasa Delano, captain of the seal hunting ship the Perseverance came upon the slave ship Tryal and was fooled into thinking that its Spanish captain, Benito Cerenno, was still in control. He was not. The ship had been taken over by its slaves. Grandin presents a deeply examined historical study of the encounter and what followed, also telling us the much larger horror story of slavery in Spanish colonial America, as well as about the rugged, often brutal life of early 19th-century sailors. VERDICT This is an important history of slavery and the slave trade that chronicles what happened to the small percentage of slaves (400,000 out of 10.7 million) who were shipped to U.S. ports. For scholars of slavery, race relations, and U.S. and Latin American history, as well as readers of Melville and 19th-century American studies. [See Prepub Alert, 8/1/13.]—Robert B. Slater, Stroudsburg, PA
The New York Times Book Review - Andrew Delbanco
…powerful…Grandin's kaleidoscopic technique gives his book a certain pastiche quality (many years and miles are silently traversed in the breaks between chapters), but through a remarkable feat of research he establishes a strong narrative line that gives the book coherence and momentum…Grandin does not say much about the literary power of Benito Cereno. But by reconstructing the world through which the slaves moved toward their doom, he has done more than any previous scholar…to illuminate the context of the work in which Melville confronted slavery without presuming to comprehend its vast ramifications. The Empire of Necessity is also a significant contribution to the largely impossible yet imperative effort to retrieve some trace of the countless lives that slavery consumed.
Publishers Weekly
★ 10/07/2013
This dark yarn is simultaneously a philosophical, sociological, and literary inquiry, as the historic facts of an 1804 maritime slave rebellion interact dialectically with Benito Cereno, Melville’s novel inspired by the revolt. Through rich contextualization, the central events are understood as both singular and allegorical for the surrounding social milieu. As Melville wrote about “slavery as a proxy for the human condition,” Grandin (Fordlandia) addresses the encounter of Amasa Delano, a New England seal hunter, with the rebelling West African slaves and their Spanish hostage as a proxy for the manifold forces intersecting in the development of the New World. Delano, described by Grandin as a sort of “republican Zelig,” embodies the ethical dilemma of antebellum America, contemplating freedom while mired in a system enabled by slavery. Less biographical information is available for the Africans, but Grandin infers that the “inverted moon... was yet another sign of not just their world but heaven turned upside down” for these slaves forced across the equator, and the occurrence of the Night of Power, an Islamic holy day, as fomenting the rebellion by evoking prophetic proclivities. Grandin’s insightful, poetic explorations offer profound insight into a critical moment in the modern development of the struggle between freedom and enslavement. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

“Scholarship at its best . . . Compelling, brilliant, and necessary.” —Toni Morrison

“Engaging, richly informed . . . Grandin has produced a quietly powerful account that Melville himself would have admired.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Powerful . . . A remarkable feat of research . . . A significant contribution to the largely impossible yet imperative effort to retrieve some trace of the countless lives that slavery consumed.” —Andrew Delbanco, The New York Times Book Review

“Engrossing, well researched, and beautifully written . . . A rigorously sourced work of scholarship with a suspenseful narrative structure that boomerangs back and forth through time. Grandin has delivered a page-turner.” —Chicago Tribune

“A great and moving story.” —The Washington Post

“Grandin writes with the skills of a fine novelist. . . . I am thrilled and amazed by this inventive, audacious, passionate volume.” —H. Bruce Franklin, Los Angeles Review of Books

“Engaging, richly informed . . . Mr. Grandin ranges so freely through history that his book has a zigzagging course, like a schooner tacking constantly with the wind. But the voyage he takes us on is hardly directionless. . . . he describes his unsettling panorama in a restrained manner, avoiding exaggeration and allowing facts--many of them horrific--to tell the story. In doing so, he has produced a quietly powerful account that Melville himself would have admired.” —Wall Street Journal

“Elegant . . . a wonder of power, precision and sheer reading pleasure . . . Grandin takes readers on a tour of the hell of the slave trade, a tour so revelatory and compelling, we readers, unlike Captain Delano, can't fail to see the truth before our eyes.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR's "Fresh Air"

“An exciting and illuminating narrative . . . Grandin's pen is exquisite, the descriptions are lively and sensuous. But he is also deeply reflective. The book has import that extends beyond the interest of the story.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“I can't say enough good things about The Empire of Necessity. It's one of the best books I've read in a decade. It should be essential reading not just for those interested in the African slave trade, but for anyone hoping to understand the commercial enterprise that built North and South America.” —Victor Lavalle, Bookforum

“A remarkable story, one that unravels the American encounter with slavery in ways uncommonly subtle and deeply provocative.” —The American Scholar

“Fascinating . . . a gripping, lavishly researched account of high seas drama . . . compulsively readable.” —The Christian Science Monitor

“Fascinating and engaging.” —Seattle Times

“In this multifaceted masterpiece, Greg Grandin excavates the relentlessly fascinating history of a slave revolt to mine the enduring dilemmas of politics and identity in a New World where the Age of Freedom was also the Age of Slavery. This is that rare book in which the drama of the action and the drama of ideas are equally measured, a work of history and of literary reflection that is as urgent as it is timely.” —Philip Gourevitch, co-author of the The Ballad of Abu Ghraib

“Greg Grandin has done it again. Starting with a single dramatic encounter in the South Pacific he has shown us an entire world: of multiple continents, terrible bondage and the dream of freedom. This is also a story of how one episode changed the lives of a sea captain and a great writer from the other end of the earth. An extraordinary tale, beautifully told.” —Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold's Ghost

“Rooted in an event known primarily through the genius of Herman Melville's transcendent Benito Cereno, The Empire of Necessity is a stunning work of research done all over the rims of two oceans, as well as beautiful, withering storytelling. This is a harrowing story of Muslim Africans trekking across South America, and ultimately a unique window on to the nature of the slave trade, the maritime worlds of the early nineteenth century, the lives lived in-between slavery and freedom all over the Americas, and even the ocean-inspired imagination of Melville. Grandin is a master of grand history with new insights.” —David W. Blight, author of Frederick Douglass: A Life (forthcoming)

“Greg Grandin is one of the best of a new generation of historians who have rediscovered the art of writing for both serious scholars and general readers. This may be his best book yet. The Empire of Necessity is a work of astonishing power, eloquence and suspense--a genuine tour de force.” —Debby Applegate, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher

author of Frederick Douglass: A Life (forthcom David W. Blight

Rooted in an event known primarily through the genius of Herman Melville's transcendent Benito Cereno, The Empire of Necessity is a stunning work of research done all over the rims of two oceans, as well as beautiful, withering storytelling. This is a harrowing story of Muslim Africans trekking across South America, and ultimately a unique window on to the nature of the slave trade, the maritime worlds of the early nineteenth century, the lives lived in-between slavery and freedom all over the Americas, and even the ocean-inspired imagination of Melville. Grandin is a master of grand history with new insights.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Most Famous M Debby Applegate

Greg Grandin is one of the best of a new generation of historians who have rediscovered the art of writing for both serious scholars and general readers. This may be his best book yet. The Empire of Necessity is a work of astonishing power, eloquence and suspense--a genuine tour de force.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-11-18
Pulitzer Prize finalist Grandin (History/New York Univ.; Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City, 2009, etc.) offers a splendid account of the 1804 slave rebellion made famous in Herman Melville's novel Benito Cereno. On a sealing expedition in the South Pacific, veteran captain Amasa Delano (1763–1823) encountered a ship in seeming distress, boarded it to provide food and water, and discovered a great deception: The black-skinned people on board--West African slaves--were in command of the vessel and holding its Spanish captain hostage. The clever role-playing by mutinous slaves sharply contradicted the prevailing belief that slaves lacked cunning and reason, and Grandin uses the episode as a revealing window on the Atlantic slave trade and life in Spanish America in the early 1800s. Delano, a veteran seaman from New England, where slavery supported the economy, is seen as "a new man of the American Revolution" who, like many, championed freedom and found slavery morally reprehensible, yet nonetheless played his own role in the system. He eventually led an attack on the rebel-held ship and tortured many captives. Grandin's research in the archives, libraries and museums of nine countries shines forth on each page of this excellent book. He writes with authority on every aspect of the "slavers' fever" that gripped the New World and details vividly the horrors of disease-ridden slave ships ("floating tombs"), the treks of slave caravans overland through the pampas to Lima from Buenos Aires, and the harsh, brutal life of sealers, who clubbed and skinned their victims, annihilating many seal rookeries of the Argentine and Chilean islands. The author also examines the parallels between Melville's novel and the historic incident, and he reflects on evidence of the omnipresence of slavery as an institution that he discovered on his research travels. Deeply researched and well-written, this book will appeal to general readers and specialists alike.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429943178
Publisher:
Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
01/14/2014
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
407,579
File size:
5 MB

Read an Excerpt

The Empire of Necessity

Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World


By Greg Grandin

Henry Holt and Company

Copyright © 2014 Greg Grandin
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-4317-8



CHAPTER 1

HAWKS ABROAD


In early January 1804, a one-armed French pirate cruised into Montevideo's harbor. The Spaniards in his multinational crew had trouble saying his name, so they called him Captain Manco — manco being the Spanish word for cripple. François-de-Paule Hippolyte Mordeille didn't mind the nickname. It was the rank he didn't like.

Mordeille was a seafaring Jacobin. He presided over men who wrapped red sashes around their waists, sang the "Marseillaise," and worked the deck to the rhythms of revolutionary chants. Long live the republic! Perish earthly kings! String up aristocrats from the yardarms! Commanding ships called Le Brave Sans-Culottes, Révolution, and Le Démocrat, he patrolled the coast of Africa from Île de France (now Mauritius) in the Indian Ocean to Senegal in the Atlantic, harassing the French Revolution's enemies and guarding its friends. Mordeille, true to his republican spirit, preferred to be addressed as citoyen — citizen — or Citoyen Manco if need be. But not captain.

Coming south from Brazil, Mordeille tacked to starboard and hugged the coastline as he entered Río de la Plata, the great water highway to Montevideo and Buenos Aires and points beyond. The broad sea gulf seemed welcoming. But it was shallow, shoaled, and rock strewn. Its fast-flowing tributaries — it was the mouth of several rivers — ran through some of the driest regions in South America, pouring tons of silty sediment into the estuary, raising sandbars, and rerouting sea lanes. Strong dark-cloud winds coming off the pampas were especially treacherous when they hit the water at low tide. Just a few years earlier a windstorm had wrecked eighty-six ships in a single blow. Even the north shore, considered the safest route in and along which Mordeille sailed, was known as "carpenter's coast," since woodworkers made a living salvaging the timber of washed-up broken ships.

Of Río de la Plata's two cities, Buenos Aires, located farther in on the south shore, was wealthier. But sailors preferred Montevideo on the north. It was littered with sunken hulls and still didn't have a wharf or a pier, but its harbor was deeper than the shallow riverbed off of Buenos Aires and thus preferable for loading and unloading cargo. Mordeille sailed in, driving his ship, the Hope, through the bay's muddy water to safe anchorage. Behind him came the Neptune, a prize Mordeille and his crew had taken near the Bight of Biafra.

* * *

Copper-bottomed, teak-framed, three-masted, and three-decked, the 343- ton Neptune had a sharp-angled cutwater topped with an ornately carved prow: a lion without a crown, as the Spaniards would later describe the figurehead. It was big and looked warlike. Its purpose, though, was to carry cargo and not to fight. It was no match for smaller, better-armed vessels like the Hope, a fact that its captain, David Phillips, learned at great cost.

While the ship was anchored off Bonny Island, Phillips had heard reports that a French corvette was cruising the sea lanes, standing between him and open water. But with his hold full, he decided to risk a confrontation and make for Barbados. When he saw the Hope coming in fast on portside, Phillips gave the order to run. But his pursuer was faster, sweeping the trader's bow, forcing it to give up the wind. Mordeille then boxhauled around, bracing his ship's sails and returning on the Neptune. Phillips was trapped.

If the objective was to destroy the target, the fight would have been over quickly. But the rules of privateering meant that Mordeille got to keep what the Neptune was carrying, so his men aimed their guns not at its hull but at its rigging. The firing continued as boys ran back and forth watering the Hope's deck to make sure blown powder didn't set it alight. A party of men readied themselves with boarding axes to take the Neptune by hand. The weapons weren't needed. A ball hit the rudder head, making it impossible to steer, and after about an hour more of firing, with eleven of his crew dead, another sixteen wounded, and his sails pocked and rigging frayed, Captain Phillips surrendered.

When Mordeille's men opened the Neptune's hatch, they found close to four hundred Africans, mostly boys and men between the ages of twelve and twenty-five, but also a number of women and children.

They were in chains and dressed in blue cotton smocks.

* * *

Spanish documents indicate that some of the Tryal rebels were among them. But they don't say who or how many. The name Mori was common for captives embarked at Bonny. According to one database of African names, of all the recorded men called Mori to leave Africa as slaves, a plurality of them, just under 37 percent, did so from Bonny. Variations of Babo — Baboo, Babu, Baba, and so forth — were likewise found among slaves put on ships at nearby ports. Court records give the names of only thirteen other participants in the uprising, all men: Diamelo, Leobe, Natu, Quiamobo, Liché, Dick, Matunqui, Alasan, Yola, Yan, Malpenda, Yambaio, or Samba, and Atufal. The Tryal's fifty-seven other West African men and women remain anonymous.

Most of the men and women Mordeille found on the Neptune would already have traveled weeks, in some cases months, moving along the trunks and tributaries of the enormous Niger, an ever-expanding grid reaching deep into the interior. Bonny was a popular station during these years, as big ships of considerable draft could anchor on the hard sand bed and take on large cargos, as many as seven hundred Africans in some cases. The river was "spacious and deep," reported one English sailor around the time the Neptune would have arrived, "wider than the Thames." At any given moment there'd be a queue of up to fifteen vessels, many of them Liverpoolers, forming along the island's shoreline, waiting for the black traders who came down from the inland once a fortnight. The traders would arrive in flotillas of twenty to thirty canoes, each holding as many as thirty captives, to be bartered for guns, gunpowder, iron, cloth, and brandy.

The Europeans at Bonny and elsewhere in West Africa had no idea where the cargo came from. As late as 1803, the British Royal African Company instructed its agent in nearby Cape Coast Castle, on the Gold Coast west of Bonny, to survey the African merchants from whom they brought their slaves: did they come to the coast in "small parties" or "caravans"? What were the names of the "towns or villages passed through"? Were the people in these towns "Mohamedans or pagans"? If they came from the "Great Desert," "what were the names of their tribes?" If they came "from beyond the Niger," what did "they know concerning its course"? Did they have any information about the "great chain of mountains that are reported to extend from Manding to Abysinia"? The British had been on the Gold Coast for well over a hundred years — they had controlled Cape Coast Castle since 1664 — and yet their agent could give only the vaguest answers to these questions.

The Africans embarked at Bonny, even if their enslavers didn't know their origins, had a reputation for being willful and prone to fatalism. Those two qualities might seem opposing but they often resulted in the same action: suicide. One ship surgeon, Alexander Falconbridge, in his 1788 condemnation of the slave trade, tells of fifteen slaves put on a ship at Bonny who, before the ship left port, threw themselves into a school of sharks. Another voyager on a Bonny slave ship, a young boy kept awake by the "howling of these negros," described three captives who managed to break free and jump overboard: they were "dancing about among the waves, yelling with all their might what seemed to me to be a song of triumph" until their "voices came fainter and fainter upon the wind."

* * *

The Neptune was a Liverpool slave ship, which meant that, for Mordeille, its taking was more than potentially profitable. It was personal. The Frenchman had lost his arm escaping from a Spanish dungeon, but it was during a long lockup in Portsmouth, after having been captured by a Liverpool corsair, that he developed his "tenacious hatred" of the British.

Liverpool had joined the fight against republicanism with exceptional fervor. When news arrived in early 1793 that the French had executed their king, Louis XVI, city fathers lowered the Union Jack that flew over the city's Custom House to half mast. Mourning led to anger, and anger to action against the regicides, lest, warned one newspaper, the "red cap of liberty be raised, the flag of death unfurled, the Marseillaise chanted, the age of reason proclaimed, and the goddess and her guillotine be made permanent" in Piccadilly. Liverpool's slavers, planters, and shippers financed a large mercenary fleet made up of about sixty-seven privateers, trim, fast ships mounted with twenty guns or better to take the fight against Jacobinism to the sea. For a time, French vessels were at their mercy.

But then Paris began to field its own privateers, including Mordeille, and Napoleon's rise led to an improvement in the republic's naval forces. By the time the Hope fell on the Neptune, France could not only better defend itself on the open sea but go on the offensive, harassing British cargo and slave ships as they traveled to and from Caribbean sugar plantations. Sailing under a Dutch flag with a French letter of marque, Mordeille was among the most tenacious of these avengers, hailed by the Napoleonic press as the scourge of Liverpool: "Mordeille! Mordeille! Small and frail, but in the breach he has the strength of heroes."

The Neptune was owned by John Bolton, one of the largest backers of the city's mercenary fleet and an outfitter of a private anti-Jacobin squad of nearly six hundred men he named Bolton's Invincibles, armed to protect Liverpool from enemies within and without. Born the "poor boy" son of a village apothecary, he started his career as an apprentice clerk in the West Indies, and legend has it that he parlayed a sack of potatoes and a brick of cheese into the start-up capital of what became a slaving empire. Leaving his "coloured" wife and children behind penniless in the Caribbean, he returned to Liverpool, splitting his time between the bustle of his Henry Street counting house and Storrs Hall, a country mansion built in the middle of an ornamental grove on a wooded promontory overlooking Windermere Lake, where he entertained Tory politicians and Romantic poets, including his friend William Wordsworth.

Bolton might have come into life humble, but the wealth produced by at least 120 slave voyages let him leave it in a fine coffin shrouded in black velvet and studded with silver nails. His funeral cortege included:

eight gentleman abreast, three hundred boys from the Blue Suit School six deep, two hundred and fifty Gentlemen on foot, six deep, sixty gentlemen on horseback, thirty gentlemen's private carriages in a line. Several gigs.... Four mutes on horseback. Three mourning coaches, each drawn by four horses. Mr. Bolton's private carriage, drawn by four, beautiful blood horses, bringing up the rear.


It was a Scouser send-off to remember, and observers thought the bells of St. Luke tolled with exceptional beauty the day Bolton was laid to earth.

* * *

As they made ready to sail across the Atlantic, the Hope and the Neptune were floating contradictions of the Age of Revolution. On board one ship were enslaved Africans understood to be property, which meant that according to some interpretations of natural-law liberalism they could be bought, sold, and traded as cargo. On board the other, a multihued crew lived the French Revolution's promise of liberté, égalité, and fraternité. Europeans, mostly French and Spanish, worked alongside dark-skinned Portuguese mulattos and black Africans and Haitians who served as gunners and musketeers. They assigned no title to skin color and spoke an egalitarian patois sounding sort of like French but with traces of Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, and old langue d'oc, along with words picked up from around the Caribbean and the coasts of West and East Africa. Mordeille himself, born on the Mediterranean, not far from Marseilles and a short sail from North Africa, was once described as "black as an Ethiopian."

The color line did not, strictly speaking, divide the Atlantic between masters and slaves. In the navies and merchant fleets of all the seafaring empires and republics at the time, men of color — among them, Africans, South Sea islanders, Arabs, Indians, Chinese, and freed American blacks — worked on ships, including slave ships, as cooks, cabin boys, sailors, and even, in a few instances, captains. Nor did white skin protect against the kind of arbitrary rule over body and will associated with chattel slavery. Press gangs roamed the wharves and piers of port cities throughout the British realm on the hunt for men to fill the ships of the Royal Navy, looking nothing so much as like the slave gangs that stalked the coasts and rivers of Africa.

In Liverpool, the vanguard of merchant reaction, savage fellows patrolled the streets, often led by a "dissipated, but determined-looking officer, in a very seedy uniform and shabby hat." Men would flee and children scream upon catching sight of them. Word quickly went out that there were "hawks abroad." Pity the poor sailor who didn't keep his door bolted and shades drawn: "he was seized upon as if he were a common felon, deprived of his liberty, torn from his home, his friends, his parents, wife or children, hurried to the rendezvous-house, examined, passed, and sent on board the tender, like a negro to a slave-ship."

Once at sea sailors were subject to rule as feudal as the ancien régime and as brutal as the plantation. They could be flogged, tarred, feathered, keelhauled — dunked in the ocean and dragged under the hull, barnacles doing to backs in a minute what it took the whip fifteen lashes — or executed, made to walk the plank or hung by the yardarm. Even on ships like the Hope, which sailed with an insurgent élan and did away with rank, the authority of Mordeille, whether he be called citizen or captain, was absolute.

The African slave trade, however, was a different kind of bondage. It not only survived the dawn of the Age of Liberty but was expanding and becoming even more lucrative. And so back on the Neptune, after it had been secured, its dead heaved overboard, its British prisoners shackled, and its African cargo counted, Mordeille did the math and guessed that the ship's slaves were worth, wholesale, at least 80,000 silver pesos (it's nearly impossible to do a straight conversion into today's currency, but this princely sum was roughly equal to the annual salaries of the viceroys of Mexico and Peru, the highest Spanish officials in the Americas).

It doesn't seem that Mordeille gave much thought to the contradiction, the fact that he was a Jacobin believer in the rights of man and the liberties of the world who made his living seizing British slaves and selling them to Spanish American merchants. After all, he swore allegiance not to ideals but to the French nation, which had abolished slavery in its colonies in 1794 only to restore it eight years later. Napoleon's 1802 announcement of its restoration was terse: "Slavery shall be maintained"; the slave trade "shall take place." In any case, the revolution's to-ing and fro-ing when it came to slavery and freedom mattered little to the privateer or, apparently, to his men.

When everything was ready on board the Neptune, the inventory complete, the rudder repaired, the damaged sails replaced, and the rigging redone, the two ships, the victor and its vanquished prize, set sail for Montevideo. The British, including the officers, had been placed in a hold, not the one that contained the Africans but a smaller one, below the Neptune's quarterdeck.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Empire of Necessity by Greg Grandin. Copyright © 2014 Greg Grandin. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Greg Grandin is the author of Fordlandia, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, as well as Empire's Workshop and The Blood of Guatemala. A professor of history at New York University and a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the New York Public Library's Cullman Center, Grandin has served on the UN Truth Commission investigating the Guatemalan Civil War and has written for the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, New Statesman, and The New York Times.
Greg Grandin is the author of The Empire of Necessity; Fordlandia, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award; as well as Empire’s Workshop and The Blood of Guatemala. A professor of history at New York University and a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the New York Public Library, Grandin has served on the UN Truth Commission investigating the Guatemalan Civil War and has written for the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, & The New York Times.

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