[Marxism] THE AMISTAD REBELLION by Marcus Rediker AVAILABLE NOW ON VERSO BOOKS
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Wed Jan 15 07:46:39 MST 2014
THE AMISTAD REBELLION: AN ATLANTIC ODYSSEY OF SLAVERY AND FREEDOM
by Marcus Rediker
“So gripping that I’m wary of providing spoilers.”
— ERIC FONER, NATION
Steve McQueen's new blockbuster film, 12 Years A Slave, is currently receiving the plaudits of fans and critics alike for its moving representation of the life of Solomon Northup, a free black man from New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the brutal plantations of the American South. Northup's story highlights the cruelty and injustice of an economic system that enslaved people, and reminds us of the fascinating legal anomalies that separated freemen and slaves. That small difference between freedom and incarceration is illustrated vividly in the tale of the Amistad, and the slaves who rebelled against their captors and whose legal challenge changed the history of U.S. slavery forever.
On 28 June 1839, the Spanish slave schooner La Amistad set sail from Havana to make a routine delivery of human cargo. After four days at sea, on a moonless night, the captive Africans that comprised that cargo escaped from the hold, killed the captain, and seized control of the ship. They attempted to sail to a safe port, but were captured by the US navy and thrown into a Connecticut jail. Their legal battle for freedom eventually made its way to the Supreme Court, where former president John Quincy Adams took up their cause. In a landmark ruling, they were freed and eventually returned to Africa. The rebellion became one of the best-known events in the history of American slavery, celebrated as a triumph of the US legal system in books and films, most famously Steven Spielberg’s Amistad. These narratives, however, reflect the elite perspective of the judges, politicians, and abolitionists involved. In this powerful and highly original account, Marcus Rediker reclaims the rebellion for its instigators: the African rebels who risked death to stake a claim for freedom.
Using newly discovered evidence, Rediker reaches back to Africa to find the rebels’ roots, narrates their cataclysmic transatlantic journey, and unfolds a prison story of great drama and emotive power. featuring vividly drawn portraits of the Africans, their captors, and their abolitionist allies, The Amistad Rebellion shows how the rebels captured the popular imagination and helped to inspire and build a movement that was part of a grand global struggle for emancipation. The actions of that distant July night and in the days and months that followed were pivotal events in American and Atlantic history, but not for the reasons we have always thought.
The successful Amistad rebellion changed the very nature of the struggle against slavery. As a handful of Africans steered a course to freedom, they opened a way for millions to follow. This stunning book honours their achievement.
THE AMISTAD REBELLION was recently featured on Verso’s essential reading list on slavery and race relations, to coincide with the release of Steve McQueen’s new film 12 Years a Slave. The reading list attempts to give a fundamental starting point for those who wish to learn more about the roots, events and legacies of slavery and racial tensions throughout the world.
Praise for BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA
“What distinguishes Rediker’s work is his unwavering and unsentimental focus on the seaman’s labour and experience in his cramped wooden world.” E.P. THOMPSON, GUARDIAN
Praise for THE MANY-HEADED HYDRA “More than just a vivid illustration of the gains involved in thinking beyond the boundaries between nation-states. Here, in incendiary form, are essential elements for a people’s history of our dynamic, transcultural present.” PAUL GILROY
Hardback / ISBN: 9781781682500 / £20.00 / 304 Pages / Illustrated throughout, including 16 black and white color plates
MARCUS REDIKER is Distinguished Professor of Atlantic History at the University of Pittsburgh and author of The Slave Ship: A Human History and Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age.
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