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The Slave Ship
Cover of The Slave Ship
The Slave Ship
A Human History
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"Masterly."—Adam Hochschild, The New York Times Book ReviewIn this widely praised history of an infamous institution, award-winning scholar Marcus Rediker shines a light into the darkest corners...
"Masterly."—Adam Hochschild, The New York Times Book ReviewIn this widely praised history of an infamous institution, award-winning scholar Marcus Rediker shines a light into the darkest corners...
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  • "Masterly."—Adam Hochschild, The New York Times Book Review
    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.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 30, 2007
    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, 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.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from September 15, 2007
    In a tour de force displaying his mastery of Atlantic maritime matters, historian Rediker (Univ. of Pittsburgh; "Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age") details step by step the terrors, toil, technologies, commercial linkages, and business plans that made the slave ship the human triumph and tragedy it was. The magnificent and monstrous machine that formed the modern Atlantic world functioned as nursery, prison, war engine, and graveyard. For nearly 400 years from the late 1400s through the 1800s, tall shipsfrom the bantam ten-ton "Hesketh" with its 30 captives to the behemoth, ill-fated 566-ton "Parr"operated as terrible instruments of capitalist profit and human wastage. They made cargo of ten to 15 million Africans in the hellish voyage called Middle Passage. Rediker brings to life sea captains, sailors, and slaves consumed in the abominable traffick. Imaginatively conceived, expertly researched, humanely informed, and movingly written, this virtuoso work is essential for collections treating the history of Europe, the Americas, or Africa since 1500.Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe

    Copyright 2007 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    September 15, 2007
    With all the scholarship that has been devoted to the slave trade between Africa, Europe, and America, the dynamics aboard the ships at the heart of the trade has been the least studied, according to historian Rediker. Drawing on 30 years of research in maritime archives, Rediker offers an intimate look at the social and cultural dynamics of the slave ships that carriedthree million Africans in the largest movement of people inhuman history. Because of its crucial role in European and American commerce, the slave ship was a strange and potent combination of war machine, mobile prison, and factory. Rediker devotes separate sections to the relationship between the slave-ship captain and the crew, between the crew and the enslaved, among the enslaved people of different cultures and languages, and between the slave ship and civil society as Europeans and Americans struggled to balance commerce with ideals of ethics, religion, and governance in democratic nations.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2007, American Library Association.)

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