- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 11 hours and 27 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Recorded Books
- Audible.com Release Date: January 14, 2014
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00HUDLKOA
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World Audiobook – Unabridged
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The author starts from the historic slaves rebellion on the slaver ship Tryal described by Hermann Melville in his "Benito Cerreno" and from there pulls all the threads he can.
He artfully retraces the path of the slaves involved from their shipment from Africa, through their capture by the French pirate "Citoyen" Mordeille and their sale in South America, their journey through the continent and across the Andes until their rebellion on the Tryal on their way to Lima.
Greg Grandin masterly describes Connecticut's Amasa Delano's journey as a sealer, massacring the hapless mammals by the thousands in south pacific islands until his arraignment of the Tryal (I will not spoil the details here).
All this bathed in exquisitely depicted cultures, with the philosophical effects of slavery on the various ones he describes - be them in South America, Spain, England, the thirteen colonies or later the United States. He explores for us the influence of the French and Haitian revolutions, the demise of the Spanish control, even to the influence of Islam on some of the salves sent to the Americas or through 770 years of Arabic presence in Spain.
This book is a page turner, both a collection of great stories intertwined in a magnificent fresco and a well of culture and philosophy, all written in a very clear and compelling style.
Very important to me, Greg Grandin supports all his narrative with extensive notes on his researches in archives on four continents (both Americas, Europe and Africa). This denotes the most serious of analysis - that it remains so pleasant to read testifies to the author's skills.
A note about the Kindle edition, which is the one I read.
It is hard to jump back and forth between the text and the notes, and I essentially did not because of that fact. The original book also contains interesting illustrations which appear in the Kindle edition, but I have no way to know where they are located in the paper form of the book - in the Kindle edition they are all collated right after the main text - this is quite a pain as they would support the text very well were they be properly placed.
All in all, even in the Kindle edition I rate this book a deserved 5 stars.
Grandin possesses a compelling writing style as he profiles the principle players, politics of the age, the prism of which Melville was peering from almost 50 years later, the paradox of the dawn of Age of Liberty coinciding with the massive uptick in slave trade, the life of a sealer (and whalers) captains and crew, the seeds of liberty blown by American revolution, etc.
Author of Through the Lens of the Transatlantic Slave Trade