From Publishers Weekly
In response to the outrageous accusations leveled against Jews by Nation of Islam preachers and some other black nationalists, this scrupulously researched book details the actual role Jews played in the Atlantic slave trade. Faber, a professor of history at the City University of New York, has pored over tax records shipping manifests, Royal Naval Office records, and contemporary accounts of Jewish life to discover the unsurprising truth: the majority of Jews in England's Caribbean and North American colonies were merchants and tradesmen, lived in towns rather than on farms or plantations and owned approximately the same number of slaves as their non-Jewish town-dwelling neighbors. The Sephardic Jews' knowledge of languages and their family and religious connections to communities all over the world gave them advantages as traders, but they preferred to import fabrics and silver rather than slaves. While some Jews did engage in the slave trade, and a large number of Jewish households in Jamaica and Barbados owned a few slaves, the tiny number of Jews living in the English colonies at the time made their involvement minimal. The slave trade was run by and for the benefit of non-Jews, and was finally brought to an end by the same people. Packed with statistics (one-half of the book is appendices and footnotes), this isn't easy reading, but Faber's scholarship is stunning. One of the most interesting aspects of the book is the insight it gives into historical research. If those claiming the Jews enslaved millions of Africans can't discover the truth, it's because they don't want to.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In recent years, allegations by certain black nationalist publications that Jews "dominated" the African slave trade have threatened to become a new blood libel against Jews. Faber, currently professor of history at John Jay College in New York City, has provided a well-written and superbly researched counterpoint to those smears. Although he concentrates on Jews as a factor within the British imperial system, Faber also examines the role of Jews as slave owners and traders within Spanish and Portuguese domains. This is not an easy read, and laymen may find the wealth of data a bit overwhelming. Still, Faber generally handles a complicated and controversial subject with objectivity and fairness; most readers should share his conclusion that, while individual Jews certainly participated in the slave trade, overall Jewish involvement was marginal. Jay Freeman