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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on April 26, 2016
Excellent reading. This book was brought to my attention after reading Black-White Binaries by Montayj who referenced Jacobins numerous times. Both pieces are powerful.
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on April 21, 2016
Good enough for its subject matter
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on April 10, 2016
great read
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on February 17, 2016
I really like this book. I will reread this one over again several times.This is about the only time that slaves have ever successfully rebelled against their captors and formed a workable country of their own. Haiti is also one of the poorest counties in the West, but to see what these people came through and what they made of it it astounding.
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on January 20, 2016
Black Jacobins is an interesting book covering the Haitian Revolution and War for Independence. The book starts by talking about the structure on the island before the French Revolution threw everything in chaos. This topic is particularly difficult to understand because there are over three distinct (four at some points) racial divides (Mulatto and Free Black, Slaves, White, and Small Whites) and the way each of these was viewed in Santo Domingo is different from the view in France. Overall however James does a good job portraying the differences between each group and showing the place they had in society. The book follows the progress of Haiti all the way to the French attempt to reestablish control via armed force. As a military history the book is ok, but not great. Some battles are mentioned but I found them harder to follow.

The absolute killer for this book (hence the lower rating) is that it is written in an outdated Marxist view of history. To be fair to the author the book was written in 1938 during the Great Depression when Communism was looked upon as a good thing (and before the horrors of Stalin and others became widely known) among many academic circles. As a result the book is written in terms of a class struggle of proletariat versus bourgeoisie. Comparisons are made to Soviet Russia's revolution and he even mentions that some in France during the French Revolution were preaching communism. This view of history has largely been debunked, the case he makes for class warfare over racial warfare is very weak. He mentions the Mulattos and Free Blacks being viewed as badly as whites by the slaves, but not mention is made of the small whites who were poor. The revolution in Haiti was an attempt to escape slavery and establish equal rights in accordance with the French Revolution, it was not an attempt to spread the wealth in a government controlled communist state. The events of history prove this: when Haiti declared independence they got an emperor. James says this was due, not to what the masses wanted, but rather from American and British capitalists funneling money to the leaders of the revolution. The book gives amazing insight into how frightening the Communist movement was back in the 1930s. Amazingly, James states that the butchery of the whites at the end of the revolution was a shame not out of revenge, but that they did not push hard enough to eliminate the capitalists!!!

So in short it is worth a read, but take each step with caution.
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on October 31, 2015
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on August 18, 2015
Excellent read
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on August 17, 2015
The author gives an astonishing account of how Haiti became the first black republic.

Toussaint L'Ouverture was a torn man. He may not have been considered an unflinching leader today. Nevertheless, Toussaint was because he managed to triumph; and help lead an impressive 'peace through violence' revolution for Saint-Domingue. He is an example of pulling one's self up by the bootstraps. It's easy to see why so many revolutionaries admire him. Toussaint abolished slavery, but wrote laws which gave him ultimate power over freed slaves.

C.L.R. James lays it all out and at one point I likened Toussaint L'Ouverture to what one would call a true 'Uncle Tom.' Mr. James does not call Toussaint an Uncle Tom, I am only saying in jest because of what the book revealed about why Toussaint fought.
Thus I am looking to satisfy my knowledge, I am looking forward to reading more about the period Toussaint L'Ouverture lived. I would like to know more about the man and not assume negatively. The French Revolution had so many layers and many characters and I look forward to understanding it fully.

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on July 4, 2015
Very tough book to read
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on June 18, 2015
Great read!
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