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From the Publisher"A chilling and fascinating picture of the richest British colony in the New World. . . . Essential reading for anyone interested in early American history and culture."
— Early American Literature
A History Today Best History in 2008 Selection
"Manages to paint an utterly convincing mental and physical portrait of [Thistlewood's] life and times by careful anthropology, imaginative reading and, not least, really good writing."
— History Today
"A careful study of the social, intellectual, and cultural worlds of a brutal slave owner. . . . A vivid and penetrating portrait of late eighteenth-century Jamaica."
— American Historical Review
"Morbidly fascinating and compelling. . . . Enable[s] us to understand more clearly the limited range of choices left for [people] of African descent to make under the tyranny of Thistlewood and his ilk."
"Compelling. . . . Burnard skillfully explores Jamaican slave society at its zenith."
— Caribbean Studies
A subtle, compelling, and beautifully written study of the racial, social, and gendered power systems that characterized eighteenth-century Jamaica. (Betty Wood, Cambridge University)
Based on the 37-volume diary of Thomas Thistlewood (1721-1786), an English immigrant slave keeper and plantation owner in Jamaica, Burnard analyzes the structure and enforcement of power, the understandings of human rights, and the connections among class, race, gender, and sexuality in the Atlantic world.
Trevor Burnard's Mastery, Tyranny, and Desire is a detailed study based on a rather unusual and exhaustive diary of an English migrant who becomes a small slaveholder in eighteenth-century Jamaica. It probably contains more information than any single source on Jamaican society and on slaves and slavery, and provides many important insights into the lives of slaves and of whites. Given the subject and the materials, this book will be of interest to all concerned with the study of slavery as well as scholars of the Caribbean and of British Caribbean history. (Stanley L. Engerman, University of Rochester )