Cover: Rebecca's Revival: Creating Black Christianity in the Atlantic World, from Harvard University PressCover: Rebecca's Revival in PAPERBACK

Rebecca's Revival

Creating Black Christianity in the Atlantic World

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$29.00 • £25.95 • €26.95

ISBN 9780674022577

Publication Date: 10/31/2006

Academic Trade

320 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

16 halftones, 3 maps


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There have been many recent books on slaves and slavery, nonfictional and fictional, but for an account of the remarkable life of a freed-slave-turned-evangelist, it would be hard to beat Jon F. Sensbach’s Rebecca’s Revival: Creating Black Christianity in the Atlantic World. Working from documents in the German, Danish and West Indian archives, plus a German missionary’s book about Protestant missions in the Danish West Indies (now the U.S. Virgin Islands) published in 1777, Mr. Sensbach has put together a fascinating story that goes well beyond the biography of one brave woman.—John M. and Priscilla S. Taylor, The Washington Times

Jon Sensbach’s Rebecca’s Revival: Creating Black Christianity in the Atlantic World is a winning reminder of the grave inaccuracy of the assumption of slave religions’ indiscernibility. Eminently readable, and aimed at a wider audience beyond the boundaries of academe, Rebecca’s Revival recounts the story of an extraordinary mixed-race former slave, neither illiterate nor invisible.—Jonathon Kahn, Books & Culture

Jon F. Sensbach’s work is a detailed account of an extraordinary black woman, known as Rebecca, whose life experiences took her from the West Indies to Europe and finally to Africa… Sensbach’s book, written in a way that is clear and uncluttered, is a microhistorical study of exceptionalism. Rebecca not only is an addition to the gallery of strong black women but also lays claim to being one of the most devoted and committed of eighteenth-century evangelists… The book should be a must-read for anyone interested in women’s history and also for those who study the African diaspora.—Carol V.R. George, Journal of American History

[A] most fascinating book.—Paul Peucker, The Moravian

This book is an excellent microhistory of a West Indian–born Mulatto slave woman named Rebecca… Sensbach skillfully describes the places and events relevant to Rebecca’s life and those of her Moravian co-workers throughout her odyssey, and with this illustrates the interconnectedness of Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe on a personal level… This is a good Atlantic study that sheds light on important old questions regarding the conversion of African and African American slaves to Christianity.—Aaron Spencer Fogelman, New West Indian Guide

Scholars will appreciate Sensbach’s ability to successfully translate what is often understood as an ‘American’ story into the whole Atlantic world. This book is a rare gem, reminiscent of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s A Midwife’s Tale; Sensbach’s detective work in piecing together spare Dutch and German sources to recreate Rebecca’s life is astonishing. His prose is fluid and graceful, his mind is sharp and the story he tells is riveting.Publishers Weekly

Rebecca’s Revival is one of the most daring books ever published on New World slavery, a book of triumphant scholarship with a heart. Sensbach has constructed a unique biography of an enslaved convert to Christianity from startlingly detailed previously unknown sources. Sensbach’s unforgettable portrait of Rebecca’s circuits through Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe may be the most powerful account of African resilience in the face of New World slavery since Frederick Douglass’s My Bondage and My Freedom.—Jon Butler, author of Becoming America: The Revolution before 1776

Jon Sensbach’s bold historical imagination has produced an important book rich with fascinating insights about the role of African Americans in the international movement of evangelical Protestantism and the centrality of women in this movement. Sensbach’s beautifully written narrative follows the travels of Rebecca Protten, the earliest known black missionary in the Americas, through Europe, Africa, and the Danish island of St. Thomas, revealing the movement of ideas and peoples to have been circular rather than an east–west progression.—Sylvia Frey, co-author of Come Shouting to Zion: African American Protestantism in the American South and British Caribbean to 1830

How fitting that Rebecca’s life, lived with grace, commitment, and beauty, should be rendered in precisely the same way by Jon Sensbach. Here is a powerful example of biography ‘from the bottom up,’ a deep and moving account of an Atlantic pilgrim’s progress.—Marcus Rediker, author of Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age

While most people think of African American history as the story of slavery, often told in statistics and usually about anonymous people, Jon Sensbach has found a fascinating biography. Painstakingly reconstructing Rebecca Protten’s story from widely scattered sources, he weaves it skillfully into the Afro-Atlantic world bringing to life the whole complex web of interactions that made the early modern Atlantic such a dynamic place. Sensbach combines the patience of a master researcher with a novelist’s touch for detail and human interest to give Rebecca her place in history.—John Thornton, Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400–1800

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