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Tacky’s Revolt

The Story of an Atlantic Slave War

Vincent Brown

ISBN 9780674260290

Publication date: 02/08/2022

Winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award
Winner of the Frederick Douglass Book Prize
Winner of the Elsa Goveia Book Prize
Winner of the James A. Rawley Prize in the History of Race Relations
Winner of the P. Sterling Stuckey Book Prize
Winner of the Harriet Tubman Prize
Winner of the Phillis Wheatley Book Award
Finalist for the Cundill Prize

“Brilliant…groundbreaking…Brown’s profound analysis and revolutionary vision of the Age of Slave War—from the too-often overlooked Tacky’s Revolt to the better-known Haitian Revolution—gives us an original view of the birth of modern freedom in the New World.”
—Cornel West

“Not only a story of the insurrection, but ‘a martial geography of Atlantic slavery,’ vividly demonstrating how warfare shaped every aspect of bondage…Forty years after Tacky’s defeat, new arrivals from Africa were still hearing about the daring rebels who upended the island.”
Harper’s

“A sobering read for contemporary audiences in countries engaged in forever wars…It is also a useful reminder that the distinction between victory and defeat, when it comes to insurgencies, is often fleeting: Tacky may have lost his battle, but the enslaved did eventually win the war.”
New Yorker

In the second half of the eighteenth century, as European imperial conflicts extended their domain, warring African factions fed their captives to the transatlantic slave trade while masters struggled to keep their restive slaves under the yoke. In this contentious atmosphere, a movement of enslaved West Africans in Jamaica organized to throw off that yoke by violence. Their uprising—which became known as Tacky’s Revolt—featured a style of fighting increasingly familiar today: scattered militias opposing great powers, with fighters hard to distinguish from noncombatants. Even after it was put down, the insurgency rumbled throughout the British Empire at a time when slavery seemed the dependable bedrock of its dominion. That certitude would never be the same, nor would the views of black lives, which came to inspire both more fear and more sympathy than before.

Tracing the roots, routes, and reverberations of this event, Tacky’s Revolt expands our understanding of the relationship between European, African, and American history as it speaks to our understanding of wars of terror today.

Praise

  • Brilliant…groundbreaking…Brown’s profound analysis and revolutionary vision of the Age of Slave War—from the too-often overlooked Tacky’s Revolt to the better-known Haitian Revolution—gives us an original view of the birth of modern freedom in the New World.

    —Cornel West

Awards

  • 2021, Winner of the Elsa Goveia Prize
  • 2021, Winner of the Oscar Kenshur Book Prize
  • 2021, Winner of the James A. Rawley Prize
  • 2021, Winner of the Harriet Tubman Book Prize
  • 2020, Winner of the Phillis Wheatley Book Award
  • 2021, Joint winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards
  • 2021, Joint winner of the Frederick Douglass Book Prize
  • 2021, Winner of the Sterling Stuckey Book Prize

Author

  • Vincent Brown is the Charles Warren Professor of American History and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. He is the author of The Reaper’s Garden, winner of the James A. Rawley Prize, the Louis Gottschalk Prize, and the Merle Curti Award, and of Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War, winner of the Anisfield–Wolf Book Award, the Frederick Douglass Book Prize, the Elsa Goveia Book Prize, the James A. Rawley Prize, and the Harriet Tubman Prize. His documentary Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness, broadcast nationally on PBS, won the John E. O’Connor Film Award and was chosen as Best Documentary at the Hollywood Black Film Festival.

Book Details

  • 336 pages
  • 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press

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