Cover: Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War, from Harvard University PressCover: Tacky’s Revolt in PAPERBACK

Tacky’s Revolt

The Story of an Atlantic Slave War

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Product Details


$19.95 • £15.95 • €18.00

ISBN 9780674260290

Publication Date: 01/04/2022


336 pages

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

24 illus., 12 maps

Belknap Press


A sobering read for contemporary audiences in countries engaged in forever wars, reminding us how easily and arbitrarily the edges of empire, and its evils, can fade from or focus our vision. 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.—Casey Cep, The New Yorker

Brown derives 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.—Julian Lucas, Harper’s

Outstanding… Brown has produced one of the best treatments of slavery ever written.—Steve Hahn, Boston Review

A phenomenally insightful and compelling book on both the brutality of British colonialism and the desire for freedom.—Brad Evans, The Los Angeles Review of Books

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

Brown’s brilliant analysis reveals how slave rebellions across the Americas depended upon experienced combatants captured in African conflicts and then sold to Europeans, refuting the canard that slave traders gathered their victims randomly. While tracing the relationships between African warfare and uprisings in the Americas, Brown offers beautifully written portraits of those who survived the crushing forces of colonial imperialism and fought for freedom. Above all else, this astute and comprehensive book is about agency.—Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

A powerful account of the slave rebellion that took place in Jamaica in 1760 situates it in the context of an era of conflict and argues that slavery was itself a ‘state of war.’The Guardian

This is a magnificent piece of historical scholarship. Just as the rebels found pathways up into the steep hills overlooking the plains where enslavers trembled and sugar cane burned, Tacky’s Revolt finds new perspectives on resistance, warfare, culture-making, social death—and social life-after-death.—Edward E. Baptist, Black Scholar

A compelling account… By connecting the Jamaica insurgencies to larger intra-imperial wars, especially the War of Jenkin’s Ear and the Seven Years’ War, Tacky’s Revolt makes slavery and the violence it produced inseparable from broader military conflicts… Impressively original and painstakingly researched.—Christine Walker, H-Net Reviews

Adds a new dimension to the study of Atlantic history that centers African people and forces readers to reckon with the primacy of violence in the creation and sustenance of Atlantic networks of trade, migration, and empire. It will surely be widely used by scholars and students of the history of the Caribbean, Atlantic world, and African diaspora.—Rebecca Shumway, H-Net Reviews

Intricately mapping each of the linked but local uprisings across Jamaica and relating them to tides in the global struggle, Brown demonstrates how the rebels applied strategic concepts mastered in wars an ocean away… He shows how they acted on motives and opportunities as global and complex as those of the military officers and planter militias who moved to contain and kill them… A tour de force of research, theory, and historical imagination that transforms anonymous laboring slaves into actors of tragic majesty in an intricate conflict.—Christopher Moore, Literary Review of Canada

Brown’s reframing of slavery as war allows us to better understand enslaved people as soldiers, diplomats, sailors, and community leaders dedicated to Black freedom (both then and now). Specifically, Brown’s book shows how—within the broader war—enslaved men, women, and children defended themselves and even counterattacked… Will undoubtedly shape generations of scholarship to come.—Julia Gaffield, Public Books

[A] careful reconstruction of an understudied footnote in Jamaican history.—Alex Colville, The Spectator

[A] revealing history… Readers interested in the era will find much of value in this exhaustive portrait of the rebellion’s origins and ramifications.Publishers Weekly

This lively, sophisticated book proves that Vincent Brown is one of the most creative historians writing anywhere in the world today about the African Diaspora. Tacky’s Revolt is destined to become a classic work on the long, deep struggle against slavery from below.—Marcus Rediker, author of The Slave Ship: A Human History

The men and women who took up arms to fight against their enslavement across Jamaica in 1760 have long needed a historian. In Vincent Brown’s Tacky’s Revolt they have received their due. Combining precision with attention to the big picture, Brown weaves together stories of alliances, solidarities, and divisions, from St. Mary’s parish in the North of Jamaica, to the ships of the Atlantic ocean, to the forests of the Gold Coast. Brown’s superb archival work and sensitive historical reconstruction enable us to rethink the participants in the revolt as soldiers engaged in a war; a war against the unending, pervasive everyday violence that was slavery itself.—Diana Paton

In Tacky’s Revolt, Vincent Brown has mapped an innovative history and geography linking power and resistance across Africa, America, and Europe. He demonstrates that slavery was—is—a state of war.—Catherine Hall, author of Macaulay and Son: Architects of Imperial Britain

A masterful interpretation of the roots and routes of revolutionary action and of the inevitable response of African-Jamaican men and women to the violence of the racist and brutal British imperial project which rendered slavery a perpetual state of war.—Verene A. Shepherd, author of Livestock, Sugar and Slavery: Contested Terrain in Colonial Jamaica

The problem of understanding slave revolts is not why they were relatively few compared to the obvious difficulties of slave life, but why they happened at all. Vincent Brown has successfully worked out this rebellion by treating it as if it were a war, waged by ex-soldiers, chafing at their imprisonment, and looking for an avenue for freedom. Brown’s skillful linking of Tacky’s War to its African and Jamaican roots is an important venture in reconstructing the African Diaspora’s past.—John Thornton, author of A Cultural History of the Atlantic World, 1250–1820

Tacky’s Revolt reveals a truly transatlantic eighteenth-century world of resistance and warfare. Reframing a story often told from the perspective of European colonizers and American planters, Brown successfully places African soldiers at the core of the narrative. A truly masterful piece.—Manuel Barcia, author of West African Warfare in Bahia and Cuba: Soldier Slaves in the Atlantic World, 1807–1844

Also Available As

Jacket: Tacky’s Revolt

HARDCOVER | $35.00

ISBN 9780674737570


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