- Explore more great deals on thousands of titles in our Deals in Books store.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Special Offers and Product Promotions
From Publishers Weekly
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
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Starting in 1787 the work covers the efforts of a group of 12 men and those they inspired to work towards the abolition of the Slave Trade. During this time, Parliament was always a step behind popular opinion, which grew increasingly more anti-slavery with each passing year. It was not until Parliament itself was reformed in the 1830s that the necessary legislation could be passed to reflect the sentiment of the nation.
The book highlights many of the activists whose names have become footnotes to History. Olaudah Equiano was a freed slave who worked all his life to better the plight of Africans. His autobiography was a bestseller in its day and helped to spread the idea that Blacks could succeed as freemen. Granville Sharp, a musician, used his vast family connections to keep the issue in the public eye for decades. James Somerset sought his freedom in a landmark trial in 1772, which declared that all slaves were free once they came to England. An Anglican minister, Thomas Clarkson, worked for decades with politician William Wilberforce to show the evils of the slave trade.
Anti-Slavery activists created a public relations campaign that would seem right at home to the modern reader. Buttons, pins, posters, book tour, and other PR techniques were employed to win over the minds of the population. Clarkson developed a display of the shackles used by owners and toured through England and Scotland. The `Middle Passage' route, which carried slaves to their new homes in the West Indies, was made infamous by diagrams showing the crowded holds and high death rates.
The struggle had many success and as many, or more, failures. A model colony was set up in Africa to demonstrate the economic advantages to be gained by exploitation of the land and not the people. The climate and soil proved inhospitable to the European crops and the local tribes were hostile to efforts that would damage their trade with the Europeans. In the end, many of the colonists were reduced to working for the slave traders to avoid starvation.
The French Revolution seemed to offer the promise of freedom to those in bondage in French colonies. Many of the early supporters of the French Revolution felt it to be a decisive turning point in the Abolition movement. Within a few years, however, French Slave ships sailed again with ironic names like "Fraternite", "Egalite", and "Liberte". Napoleon's forces put down a slave revolt lead by Toussaint L'Ouverture but were forced eventually to withdraw his troops from the Island of St. Domingue. The loss of the island was a factor influencing Napoleon to sell the Louisiana Territory to Thomas Jefferson.
It was not until 1807 that the slave trade itself was banned by Parliament. It took another thirty years of work by the abolitionist movement, as well as reform of the electorate, before slaves in the West Indies were freed. By the time of emancipation, only one of the original twelve who started the movement was alive.
Created as a popular history, Bury the Chains is well written and fascinating. The general reader will find it to contain a good narrative filled with interesting events and memorable characters. The academic user will find the lack of footnotes in the text dismaying but all quotes and sources are well documented at the end of the book. The author uses both primary and secondary sources especially recent works such as journal articles and collections of primary documents. This book tells a remarkable story and it tells it remarkably well.
(a) Samuel Sewall, Selling of Joseph: A Memorial (Boston: Green and Allen, 1700);
(b) Ralph Sandiford, A Brief Examination of the Practice of the Times (Philadelphia: Franklin and Meredith, 1729);
(c) Benjamin Lay, All Slave-Keepers That Keep The Innocent in Bondage, Apostates (Philadelphia: Ben Franklin, 1737).
Note also abolitionist writings such as by
(a) Abolitionist Rev. Theodore D. Weld, The Bible Against Slavery (New York: American Anti-Slavery Society, 1837), tracing condemnations of slavery back to the Bible, the Law of Moses, and Ancient Israel;
(b) Abolitionist Rev. George B. Cheever, God Against Slavery and the Freedom and Duty of the Pulpit To Rebuke It, As a Sin against God (Cincinnati: American Reform Tract and Book Society, 1857), tracing condemnations of slavery back to the Bible, the Law of Moses, Ancient Israel, the prophet Jeremiah, and Ancient Judah;
(c) Abolitionist Rev. John G. Fee, An Anti-Slavery Manual, or, The Wrongs of American Slavery Exposed By the Light of the Bible and of Facts, with A Remedy for the Evil, 2d ed. (New York: William Harned, 1851), showing slavery condemned back at least to the time of the Biblical Patriarch Joseph, indeed, in principle (the "original grant" concept) back to the time of the Garden of Eden;
(d) Alvan Stewart, Legal Argument For the Deliverance of 4,000 Persons from Bondage (New York: Finch & Weed, 1845), tracing anti-slavery activism back to the violent divine intervention in direct opposition to slavery via the Exodus, with ten plagues, fugitive slaves fleeing Egypt, reparations of silver, gold and clothing at the "plundering" level, mass deaths of slavers, including the first-born and the drowning of Egypt's army;
(e) Abolitionist Edward Coit Rogers, Letters on Slavery Addressed to the Pro-slavery Men of America, Showing Its Illegality in All Ages and Nations: Its Destructive War Upon Society and Government, Morals and Religion (Boston: Bela Marsh, 1855), showed slavery condemnation among Ancient Greece and Rome, the early Christians, Medieval European societies, and so on.
So it is vital to understanding, to not conclude that anti-slavery views and activism did not begin anywhere until the persons Hochschild cites began their late in history activism. They were in fact following numerous precedents going back thousands of years.
Hochschild shows us the developing moral insight of abolitionist leaders like Thomas Clarkson, Granville Sharpe and the Quakers, who somehow understood something early on that was unclear to many Britons: that slavery was evil. He also limns the amazing life of Olaudah Equiano, who knew slavery from personal experience, and shows how a small group was able to move millions of people its cause--and even get hundreds of thousands to give up sugar in their tea.
Also--and very importantly--Hochschild shows how eventual emancipation was not a gift from European and American humanitarians, but at least partially the result of a long struggle in the slave colonies by the slaves themselves, generations of whom proved willing, again and again, to die for their freedom. It is interesting that the slave revolts in the West Indies were often a setback in public opinion for the British abolitionists: apparently it was easier to accept the idea that slavery was evil than it was to get to the idea that slaves have an inherent right of armed resistance.
Meticulous and detailed research and a passionate yet thoughtful writing style are great strengths of this book. Hard to put down, and hard to stop thinking about even months after finishing it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Anti-Slave Trade Committees.
Let me know what you think!