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Tacky’s Revolt

The Story of an Atlantic Slave War

Vincent Brown

ISBN 9780674737570

Publication date: 01/14/2020

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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

A gripping account of the largest slave revolt in the eighteenth-century British Atlantic world, an uprising that laid bare the interconnectedness of Europe, Africa, and America, shook the foundations of empire, and reshaped ideas of race and popular belonging.

In the second half of the eighteenth century, as European imperial conflicts extended the domain of capitalist agriculture, warring African factions fed their captives to the transatlantic slave trade while masters struggled continuously to keep their restive slaves under the yoke. In this contentious atmosphere, a movement of enslaved West Africans in Jamaica (then called Coromantees) 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. It was also part of a more extended borderless conflict that spread from Africa to the Americas and across the island. 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 across disparate parts of the Atlantic world, Vincent Brown offers us a superb geopolitical thriller. 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
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press

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