- Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (February 10, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0618619070
- ISBN-13: 978-0618619078
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 75 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves Reprint Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
"Men from England bought and sold me,/ Paid my price in paltry gold;/ But, though theirs they have enroll'd me,/ Minds are never to be sold." So went "The Negro's Complaint" by noted 18th-century poet William Cowper—written, says Hochschild, as an op-ed piece would be today, to spread the message of England's fledgling movement to abolish the slave trade. Hochschild, whose last book, King Leopold's Ghost, was a stunning account of the ravages perpetrated by Belgium on the Congo, turns to a more edifying but no less amazing tale: the rich, complex history of a movement that began with just 12 angry men meeting in a printer's shop in London in 1787 and, within a century, had led to the virtual disappearance of slavery.The men who met in James Phillips's print shop included Quakers, Evangelical Anglicans and a young Cambridge graduate who had had an epiphany about the evils of slavery while on the road to London. The last, Thomas Clarkson, became an indefatigable organizer, carrying out the first modern-style investigation into human rights abuses. Granville Sharp was an eccentric but socially respected man of progressive ideas who dreamed of founding a colony of free blacks in Africa. Within a short time these men and their colleagues had created a mass movement that included the first boycott, in which hundreds of thousands of Britons, chiefly women, refused to buy slave-made sugar from the Caribbean; petitions from all over the country flooded into Parliament; and a mass-produced drawing of a slaver's lower deck, showing where the slaves were densely crowded for the middle passage, became the first iconic image of human oppression.Hochschild tells of this campaign with verve, style and humor, but without preaching or moralizing, letting the horrific facts of slavery in the Caribbean (far more brutal than in the American South) speak for themselves. And he refuses to make saints out of the activists; while highlighting bravery in the face of death threats and physical violence by promoters of slavery, the author equally points out their foibles and failings, and the often ironic unintended consequences of their actions. Along the way, Hochschild illuminates how Britain's economy was dependent upon the slave trade, why England's civil society was particularly hospitable to a movement to abolish that trade, and the impact on the movement of the French Revolution and the particularly bloody slave uprising in French St. Domingue (today's Haiti). It's a brilliantly told tale, at once horrifying and pleasurable to read. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From The New Yorker
Hochschild's history of British abolitionism notes that ending slavery would have seemed as unlikely in eighteenth-century England as banning automobiles does today. Despite the "latent feeling" among intellectuals that slavery was barbarous, Caribbean sugar plantations were seen as a necessary part of the economy. Prefiguring many social movements to come, the anti-slavery crusade was driven by the partnership between a committed activist, Thomas Clarkson, and a connected politician, William Wilberforce. It was Clarkson and his Quaker associates who pioneered the use of petitions, eyewitness accounts, and even an early, innocent form of direct-mail solicitation. Hochschild argues that the violent techniques of naval press gangs primed England's populace to consider the plight of the slaves. His capacious narrative is both disturbing and fascinating, and not without its ironies: when Parliament finally did abolish slavery, in 1833, plantation owners were generously compensated for their loss of "property."
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
This is the first Hochschild book I have read, but I am going to read more. He has a wonderful talent for turning deep historical research into a captivating story, the only downside being that will stay up to 3 AM in the morning when I have to be awake to go to work three and a half hours later.
There are several themes I see in this book. First there is Hochscild's continuing illustrations that the greatest changes to liberate human beings cannot make all of the changes that are necessary to truly free the victims of a terrible system. The power dynamics do not change, even where the accomplishment is great, and the liberation just goes to another level, where the ones who were on top taking terrible advantage still are, or in case of Haiti, some new people are on top, and in both cases most of the ones on bottom live in desparation, significantly improved deparation that only sets the stage for another great fight. Next Hochschild gets into the recognition that some of the purpose for his book is to tell us that we have the same kinds of fight to wage in our world. The anti slavery battle in Britain is something like our own global world, and that we have battles we perhaps should be waging also. Britain and some very high class British prospered because of slavery. They were the causers of a great unfairness in the colonies and in other parts of the world, while the British common peope also suffered. The very best of the anti slavery movement linked both of these realities, supported both causes, and built their movement by developing awareness of a greater combined cause. We are also introduced to the brilliant and imaginative organizing methods of this movement in great detail. Hochschild goes into the very particular demographics of early 19th Century Britain, factors that really made the success of the movement possible, which should help us in understanding the kind of complexities we will have to consider if we are if we are to build a great movement to make changes in our world.
This story is very rich. It is not just about the purest and best as Hochschild explores with Thomas Clarkson. It is about a great range of different people some of whom were very eccentric, some who were in powerful leadership roles but who were very unrealistic, others who very aristocratic and otherwise narrow, but were alo a big part of the movement. Hochild explored the characters of some very interesting people such as Wilberforce, just for an example, someone who was narrow about every cause except slavery. He was the anti slavery leader in parliament when only 1% of Britains could vote, was very aristocratic, against the rights of the common people and women, and a narrow evangelist, very different than the quakers, who were at the core of the movement but were near the bottom of British society. Wilberforce, on a personal level, with his own servants and employees was just the opposite of what he was politically, loyal and dedicated to the welfare of his own infirm and incompetent servants. This is a taste of the book. It was delightful reading.
Anti-Slave Trade Committees. It is a fine work rendering coherent the combined and sometimes disparate
efforts of a number of people, all infused with ideas of the enlightenment, and inspired by each others' efforts.