The New York Times
The Slave Ship: A Human Historyby Marcus Rediker, Kathleen Flinn
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/i>… See more details below
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 New York Times
In this groundbreaking work, historian and scholar Rediker considers the relationships between the slave ship captain and his crew, between the sailors and the slaves, and among the captives themselves as they endured the violent, terror-filled and often deadly journey between the coasts of Africa and America. While he makes fresh use of those who left their mark in written records (Olaudah Equiano, James Field Stanfield, John Newton), Rediker is remarkably attentive to the experiences of the enslaved women, from whom we have no written accounts, and of the common seaman, who he says was "a victim of the slave trade... and a victimizer." Regarding these vessels as a "strange and potent combination of war machine, mobile prison, and factory," Rediker expands the scholarship on how the ships "not only delivered millions of people to slavery, [but] prepared them for it." He engages readers in maritime detail (how ships were made, how crews were fed) and renders the archival (letters, logs and legal hearings) accessible. Painful as this powerful book often is, Rediker does not lose sight of the humanity of even the most egregious participants, from African traders to English merchants. (Oct. 8)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
In Slave Ship, University of Pittsburgh history professor Rediker employs the slave vessel as the central metaphor in the exploration of the African diaspora, the roots of capitalism, and the creation of race. As a scholar of "history from below," Rediker juxtaposes the horrific machinations of the slave trade with, as the book's subtitle indicates, the daily dramas of the industry's participants-captain, sailor, and slave. The strength of Rediker's narrative-beyond the gruesome explication of the ship's inherent terror-is the use of the ship as representative of a factory that commodifies humanity and a dungeon of racial subjugation that creates a subspecies. As a result of the Atlantic journey, the slave is dehumanized and therefore ready for use as an implement of industry and agriculture. This work is carefully and intelligently read by David Drummond, a former winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award. His succinct enunciation, warm tone, and precise yet subtly compassionate interpretation enhances Rediker's already exemplary book. Strongly recommended for libraries of all sizes and an integral addition to any collection focused on the history of the African slave trade. [An LJ Best Book of 2007; also available as downloadable audio from
- Penguin Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.36(w) x 9.28(h) x 1.48(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
What People are saying about this
“Searingly brilliant.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
“ I was hardly prepared for the profound emotional impact of The Slave Ship: A Human History. Reading it established a transformative and never to be severed bond with my African ancestors who were cargo in slave ships over a period of four centuries.”—Alice Walker
“ The Slave Ship is the best of histories, deeply researched, brilliantly formulated, and morally informed.”—Ira Berlin, author of Many Thousands Gone
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I was sickened when I read about how many generations have endured world cruelty. Yet, I could not abandon reading this book. I felt that I owed it to my ancestors to be informed about what occurred. Dr. Rediker's presentation of the material makes difficult reading easier.
I really liked this book. It has a lot of inside information about slave ships. For instance, it tells that the slave ship captain who wrote Amazing Grace was not really that much of an opponent to slavery, regardless of what one is told in church and Sunday school. The only problem with this book is that the subject matter is sometimes hard to take. It's painful to read about slavery, but if one is nevertheless interested in it, then this book is a good one.
An eye opening look at the atlantic slave trade. Graphic but necessary, an important historic look into mankinds history.
Marcus Rediker, of Pittsburgh University¿s History Department, has written a brilliant account of the machine that enabled history¿s largest forced migration. Exploration, settlement, production and trade all required massive fleets of ships. The slave ships, with names like Liberty, Free Love and Delight, transported both the expropriated labourers and the new commodities that they produced. The ships were weapons, factories and prisons too. These ships were the key to an entire phase of capitalist expansion. Between the late 15th century and the late 19th century, it is estimated that they transported 10.6 million people, of whom 1.5 million died in the first year of slavery. 1.8 million had died en route to Africa¿s coast, and 1.8 million died on the ships. So the trade killed more than five million people. The 18th century was the worst century, in which seven million people were transported, three million of them in British and US ships, from Liverpool, Bristol and London. Seven million slaves were bought in Britain¿s sugar islands, for toil in the plantations. For half the 18th century, Britain was at war with France or Spain, for markets and empire. The slaver merchant capitalists gained from it all. They hired the captains and the captains hired the sailors. The conflict between these two forces was the primary contradiction on board, until the ships reached the African coast, then all united against the slaves. The captains exercised the discipline of exemplary violence against slaves and sailors. Their cruelty and terror were not individual quirks but were built in to `the general cruelty of the system¿. Rediker studies the conflicts, cooperation and culture of the enslaved. He shows how the enslaved Africans were the primary, and first, abolitionists, supported by dissident sailors and antislavery activists like Thomas Clarkson. The book renders the sheer horror of the experiences that this vile trade inflicted on people. Rediker concludes, ¿we must remember that such horrors have always been, and remain, central to the making of global capitalism.¿ The British Empire, so romanticised by Brown, Blair and a horde of self-publicising sycophants, was built on this murderous trade.
This book has a lot of good history but continually repeats what has already been told. I understand there are many different accounts but the reader is not going to remember the names of persons whom the reported the events. I did not even get halfway through the book and will not finish it.