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Ploughshares into Swords: Race, Rebellion, and Identity in Gabriel's Virginia, 1730-1810 [Paperback]

James Sidbury
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 13, 1997 0521598605 978-0521598606
James Sidbury's Ploughshares into Swords places the enslaved population of Virginia squarely within the emerging Atlantic world culture--of the market economy, of urban culture, of Virginia's rapidly changing religious culture. Sidbury stresses the way black Virginians appropriated white cultural forms, transformed their meaning, and in the process created symbols of black liberation and a culture that had autonomous features even though it drew from the larger culture. His skillfull interweaving of these two separate strands of argument provides rare insights into the entire process of identity formation and creolization.

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Editorial Reviews


"...[a] well-researched and clearly written study....Sidbury draws heavily from primary sources and his study is thoroughly documented....Highly recommended." Choice

"....offers a series of analyses--detailed, intelligent, sophisticated, and cogent--of a number of important questions that the Gabriel incident both highlights and illuminates....excellent work, with its abundant citations...." The North Carolina Historical Review

"James Sidbury's Ploughshares into Swords offers some interesting new perspectives on a well-known event - Gabriel's Rebellion - and some equally useful insights into Richmond's black community in the post-revolutionary era. He offers new and daring interpretations of information in the records, especially his account of how black Virginians turned the culture of the Virginia elite upside down by approaching some of its symbols for revolutionay purposes." Gregg D. Kimball, The Virginia Magazine of History & Biography

"...his detailed and suggestive monograph will be useful to subsequent authors who share his commitment `to contextualize'(p. 3)." Peter H. Wood, William & Mary Quarterly

"In bringing the study of African American slavery to the community level, Sidbury has also presented a model that will surely inspire future scholarship." Diane Barnes, Southern Historian

"...why do we have another book on [this] subject? The answer is because James Sidbury does something different." Donald R. Wright, American Historical Review

"James Sidbury's Ploughshares into Swords is one of the best local studies of postrevolutionary Virginia, and particularly Richmond, around." The Journal of American History, Bloomington, IL

"...Sidbury pans nuggets of gold from surviving anecdotal evidence about Gabriel's contemporaries...this book succeeds marvelously...well organized, well-written, and carefully reasoned, Ploughshares into Swords manages to stand above a crowded field to make original observations about Gabriel and his world." Joseph P. Reidy, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"Ploughshares into Swords, in addition to providing provocative reading, fills a significant gap in the historiography of the colonial and subsequent African American experience. It should prove to be a catalyst for further research on this important topic." Journal of American Ethnic History

"...a valuable new study of black identity in the Atlantic world." The Journal of Southern History

Book Description

During the summer of 1800, slaves in and around Richmond conspired to overthrow slavery. This book uses Gabriel's Conspiracy, and the evidence produced during its repression, to expose the processes through which Virginians of African descent built an oppositional culture. Sidbury portrays this culture, and the multiple, sometimes conflicting, senses of identity that emerged among the people of the rapidly-growing state capitol. The book offers an alternative interpretation of the Virginia that was home to many of the Founding Fathers.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (October 13, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521598605
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521598606
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.9 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,055,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful tool for teaching about slave resistence. August 19, 2000
By A Customer
This book is a great tool for teaching about slave resistence in the antebellum South. Sidbury gives a detailed description of the plans and strategies used by Gabriel Prosser, and how the whites of the South reacted to the threat of rebellion. This book outlines the process of how African Americans resist racism and the institution of slavery. I used the book in one of my college classes, and it shed a lot of light on a subject that is rarely touched upon in secondary schools. It is a wonderful tool for teaching about slave resistence the United States and a great read for anyone who is interested in the subeject of slavery and slave resistence, especially from an Afro American point of view.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars required for class March 4, 2004
By tala
I had to read this book for my History class and found it interesting, despite the fact that it was required and I had to make a paper about it. I have absolutely no previous knowledge of U.S. History because I'm not from this country but I learned alot about slavery in America and actually understood it pretty well from reading this book. The book is not entirely about Gabriel's rebellion. Rather, it takes a more wholistic approach and actually puts together the identity, or how black slaves in Richmond, Virginia, thought of themselves and why they participated, or did not participate, in Gabriel's rebellion. In addition to this, the book reflects the experiences, beliefs and culture of the slaves in Richmond as well as the influences of other rebellions of that time to Gabriel's rebellion.
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0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slavery in Richmond, Virginia September 21, 2005
This book was more interesting because my 4th and 5th Great-Grandfathers are mentioned in the book.

Elijah Bowles and Claiborne Bowles
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