Michael Taylor is an historian of colonial slavery, the British Empire and the British Isles. He graduated with a double first in history from the University of Cambridge, where he earned his PhD - and also won University Challenge. He has since been Lecturer in Modern British History at Balliol College, Oxford, and he is currently a Visiting Fellow at the British Library's Eccles Centre for American Studies.
Impressively researched and engagingly written -- Dominic Sandbrook * Sunday Times * Powerful ... engrossing ... Taylor's potent book shows why slavery took root as an essential part of British national life -- Martin Chilton * Independent * A magnificent book ... riveting -- Ian Thomson * Evening Standard * One achievement of Taylor's fascinating book is that, for the first time in a book about abolition, it gives equal weight to the force of pro-slavery ... Taylor's political analysis is first-rate and riveting ... He argues that emancipation was neither inevitable nor altruistic; party politics in Westminster and rebellion from the West Indies played as much a role as moral outrage. Taylor's achievement [is to] show that, thanks to the power of the Interest, being pro-slavery was seen as a respectable, even popular, position in British politics until the day of its demise. Above all, he reminds us of the role of those who have been unsung in this story - of Mary Prince, Samuel Sharpe and Quamina -- Ben Wilson * The Times * Scintillating ... In twenty brisk, gripping chapters, Taylor charts the course from the foundation of the Anti-Slavery Society in 1823 to the final passage of the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833. Part of what makes this a compulsively readable book is his skill in cross-cutting between three groups of protagonists. On one track, we follow the abolitionist campaigners on their lengthy, uphill battle ... This well-known story is reanimated by some brilliant pen-portraits ... A second strand illuminates the fears and bigotries of white British West Indians ... The main focus of the book, however, is on the colonists' powerful domestic allies, the so-called West India Interest ... Taylor paints a vivid picture of their outlook, organisation and superior political connections ... As this timely, sobering book reminds us, British abolition cannot be celebrated as an inevitable or precocious national triumph. It was not the end, but only the beginning -- Fara Dabhoiwala * Guardian *