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The Slave Ship: A Human History [NOOK Book]


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 ...
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The Slave Ship: A Human History

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

Adam Hochschild
…the notorious Middle Passage across the Atlantic, on which more than 12 million Africans were embarked for the Americas over more than three centuries, we know about almost entirely from the perpetrators. There are few accounts of this voyage by slaves…but an astonishingly large body of evidence remains from those who trafficked in human beings: letters, diaries, memoirs, captain's logbooks, shipping company records, testimony before British Parliamentary investigations, even poetry and at least one play by former slave-ship officers. It is this rich array of material that Marcus Rediker plumbs, more thoroughly than anyone else to date, for his masterly new book, The Slave Ship: A Human History…Rediker has made magnificent use of archival data; his probing, compassionate eye turns up numerous finds that other people who've written on this subject, myself included, have missed.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

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
Library Journal

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]
—Christopher Rager

Kirkus Reviews
"Making the slave ship real, "historian Rediker (History/Univ. of Pittsburgh) revivifies the horror of this world-changing machine. By 1807, more than nine-million Africans in shackles, manacles, neck rings, locks and chains had been carried to New World plantations, a crime impossible without ships, the most complex machines of the age, turned for this evil purpose into floating dungeons. Rediker's multilayered narrative-marred only by an occasional eruption of academic lingo and a clunky economic analysis-examines first the captains, whose absolute authority and mastery of many duties-warden, straw boss, international merchant, technician-made them indispensable. Their violent tyranny animated the "Savage Spirit of the Trade," cascading downward to the victimized crews, the dregs of the waterfront, who in turn became victimizers, liberally employing the cat-o'-nine tails on their captives. Boarding the ships, the slaves, themselves prisoners of African wars, criminals in their own societies or kidnap victims, transitioned to European control and found their world completely changed. Here Rediker (Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age, 2004, etc.) excels, detailing their strategies of resistance-refusing to eat, jumping overboard, rising up against their captors-their shipboard punishments, deaths and deprivations and the new kinship that arose among the survivors of the harsh Middle Passage, a bonding that helped sustain the resistance movement for centuries. Finally, the author includes stories by and about abolitionists such as Thomas Clarkson, who gathered the horror stories of the seamen; William Wilberforce, Parliament's most persistent anti-slave trade voice;James Stanfield, an old jack tar who wrote from the common sailor's perspective; Captain John Newton, whose religious transformation turned him into an opponent; and Olaudah Equiano, a slave who wrote movingly about the Atlantic crossing. Rediker's dramatic presentation powerfully impresses. Agent: Sandra Dijkstra/Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency
From the Publisher
"Imaginatively conceived, expertly researched, humanely informed, and movingly written." —-Library Journal Starred Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781440620843
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 10/4/2007
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 248,933
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Marcus Rediker is a professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh.

David Drummond has made his living as an actor for over twenty-five years, and he received an AudioFile Earphones Award for his first audiobook, Love 'Em or Lose 'Em.

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Table of Contents

Introduction     1
Life, Death, and Terror in the Slave Trade     14
The Evolution of the Slave Ship     41
African Paths to the Middle Passage     73
Olaudah Equiano: Astonishment and Terror     108
James Field Stanfield and the Floating Dungeon     132
John Newton and the Peaceful Kingdom     157
The Captain's Own Hell     187
The Sailor's Vast Machine     222
From Captives to Shipmates     263
The Long Voyage of the Slave Ship Brooks     308
Epilogue: Endless Passage     343
Acknowledgments     357
Notes     361
Index     417
Illustration Sources and Credits     433
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 15, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Enlightening and Soul-Stirring

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 1, 2009

    This is an excellent book.

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 11, 2011

    a must read

    An eye opening look at the atlantic slave trade. Graphic but necessary, an important historic look into mankinds history.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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