Close Notification

Your cart does not contain any items

Freedom: The Overthrow of the Slave Empires

James Walvin



In stock
Ready to ship


Weidenfeld & Nicolson
23 April 2019
History; African history; History of the Americas; Slavery & abolition of slavery
In this timely and very readable new work, Walvin focuses not on abolitionism or the brutality and suffering of slavery, but on resistance, the resistance of the enslaved themselves - from sabotage and absconding to full-blown uprisings - and its impact in overthrowing slavery. He also looks that whole Atlantic world, including the Spanish Empire and Brazil.

In doing so, he casts new light on one of the major shifts in Western history in the past five centuries. In the three centuries following Columbus's landfall in the Americas, slavery became a critical institution across swathes of both North and South America. It saw twelve million Africans forced onto slave ships, and had seismic consequences for Africa. It led to the transformation of the Americas and to the material enrichment of the Western world. It was also largely unquestioned. Yet within a mere seventy-five years during the nineteenth century slavery had vanished from the Americas: it declined, collapsed and was destroyed by a complexity of forces that, to this day, remains disputed, but there is no doubting that it was in large part defeated by those it had enslaved.

Slavery itself came in many shapes and sizes. It is perhaps best remembered on the plantations - though even those can deceive. Slavery varied enormously from one crop to another- sugar, tobacco, rice, coffee, cotton. And there was in addition myriad tasks for the enslaved to do, from shipboard and dockside labour, to cattlemen on the frontier, through to domestic labour and child-care duties. Slavery was, then, both ubiquitous and varied. But if all these millions of diverse, enslaved people had one thing in common it was a universal detestation of their bondage. They wanted an end to it: they wanted to be like the free people around them.

Most of these enslaved peoples did not live to see freedom. But an old freed man or woman in, say Cuba or Brazil in the 1880s, had lived through its destruction clean across the Americas. The collapse of slavery and the triumph of black freedom constitutes an extraordinary historical upheaval - and this book explains how that happened.
By:   James Walvin
Imprint:   Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 232mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 26mm
Weight:   420g
ISBN:   9781472141439
ISBN 10:   1472141431
Pages:   320
Publication Date:   23 April 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

JAMES WALVIN is the author of many books on slavery and modern social history. His book, Crossings, was published by Reaktion Books in 2013 and he is the author of Sugar: The World Corrupted, from Slavery to Obesity (Robinson, 2017). His first book, with Michael Craton, was a detailed study of a sugar plantation: A Jamaican Plantation, Worthy Park, 1670-1970 (Toronto, 1970). He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2006, and in 2008 was awarded an OBE for services to scholarship.

Reviews for Freedom: The Overthrow of the Slave Empires

Praise for James Walvin's Sugar: A brilliant and thought-provoking history of sugar and its ironies. - Wall Street Journal Praise for James Walvin's Sugar: An 'entertaining, informative and utterly depressing global history of an important commodity . . . By alerting readers to the ways that modernity's very origins are entangled with a seemingly benign and delicious substance, Sugar raises fundamental questions about our world. - New York Times Praise for James Walvin's Sugar: As an historian of slavery, Walvin is well versed in the triangular trade and explains the role of sugar cane in bringing Africans to the Caribbean. His survey of sugar in our lives is very readable. - Spectator Praise for James Walvin's Sugar: Shocking and revelatory . . . no other product has so changed the world, and no other book reveals the scale of its impact. Praise for James Walvin's Sugar: What is striking about James Walvin's new book is that, while focusing solely on sugar, it does not restrict itself to the past. Rather, it takes the story of perhaps the most transformative and destructive boom-crop of all time and brings it disturbingly into the present day. - BBC History Magazine Praise for James Walvin's Sugar: A convincing, deep history of this (in)famous product . . . This is not simply the tale of those who toiled to produce sugar . . . Something more than a scholarly text, this study could not be more timely. Praise for James Walvin's Sugar: A refreshingly historical look at a substance we often take for granted. Praise for James Walvin's Sugar: Former history professor James Walvin's latest book aims to untangle the social, political and economic history of sugar, a commodity that began as the preserver of the elite, but which now saturates cultures the world over. - NZME

See Also