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Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (The Lewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth-Century Culture and History) Hardcover – November 18, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Based on the groundbreaking, free Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, which tracks approximately 35,000 slave-trade voyages (about 80 percent of all of them ever made), the information presented here is a result of a collaboration between African American studies programs at Harvard and Emory Universities and features contributions from scholars from all over the world. The atlas is organized around the 189 maps that were created especially for this volume. The maps, in turn, are broken down into six major categories: �Nations Transporting Slaves from Africa,� �Ports Outfitting Voyages in the Transatlantic Slave Trade,� �The African Coastal Origins of Slaves and the Links between Africa and the Atlantic World,� �The Experience of the Middle Passage,� �The Destinations of Slaves in the Americas and Their Links with the Atlantic World,� and �Abolition and Suppression of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.� The scope of coverage is from 1501 to 1867. Users looking for statistics will be delighted by the plethora of tables and charts, ranging from the broad to the specific. An example of the former is �Estimated Number of Slaves Carried on Vessels Leaving Major Coastal Regions of Africa,� while an example of the latter is �List of Sick and Dying Slaves on Board Ship Brandenbourg, 1791�1792.� Yet the personal and human side of the story of the slave trade is not buried under numbers here. Numerous examples of primary resources, such as poems, diary entries, and contemporaneous literary selections, are included. Photographs of artifacts, like metal branding irons and handwritten records of deaths on specific voyages, lend poignancy to the story. Information is presented in small, easily digestible bits, making this appropriate for students, yet the maps and tables are detailed enough to be of use to serious academic researchers. The large size of the volume, along with its gorgeous, colorful maps and illustrations, makes this nearly as much a work of art as a reference work, and it would be an excellent addition to nearly any reference collection. --Michael Tosko


"A monumental chronicle of this historical tragedy, one that records some 35,000 individual slaving voyages, roughly 80 percent of those made. . . . [This book] is a human document as well as a rigorous accounting. It is filled with moving poems, photographs, letters and diary entries."—Dwight Garner, New York Times
(Dwight Garner New York Times 2010-11-12)

"A brilliant rendition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database. This atlas is essential to the study of chattel slavery.  No student of slavery should be without it."—Ira Berlin, University of Maryland
(Ira Berlin)

"These magnificent maps—all 189—document almost every conceivable aspect of one of the world's worst crimes. An epic and gruesome drama receives a fitting representation. A superb contribution to scholarship."—Philip D. Morgan, Johns Hopkins University
(Philip D. Morgan)

"Sophisticated and erudite, the maps and the introductions to them offer the best and most accessible interpretations on various aspects of the transatlantic slave trade. Full of insights and new findings, the strong analysis and evidence presented will create a permanent distinguished stamp on the book, confirming it as a groundbreaking text for both beginners and advanced students."—Toyin Falola, University of Texas at Austin
(Toyin Falola)

"The Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade is a dramatic step forward in the cartographic representation of the slave trade, tracing the flow of captives in much greater detail and with more precision than ever before. This atlas also systematically links African ports to American ports and hinterland African states to the ports from which their slaves were exported: an important step and a reminder that a great deal of the slave trade began deep in Africa."—John Thornton, author of Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800
(John Thornton)

"This is a highly original work and represents a major contribution to historical analysis. There are no comparable works on this topic."—Stanley Engerman, University of Rochester
(Stanley Engerman)

“This is an important project that will add greatly to our understanding about the major, long-term patterns of trade between Africa and the Americas, help to map the African Diaspora, and place the transatlantic slave trade in larger world history context.”—Steve Behrendt, Victoria University of Wellington
(Steve Behrendt)

“This is a major work of enormous consequence, without parallel in the literature, deeply researched, highly original, and of immeasurable value.”—Harm J. de Blij, Michigan State University
(Harm J. de Blij)

"One of the most ambitious books of this--or any other--publishing season: a fascinating, horrifying, beautifully put-together atlas of the transatlantic slave trade."—Very Short List
(Very Short List)

"The Atlas is the Rosetta Stone of slave historiography, making legible through maps and charts the mass of data that, at long last, allows us to grapple with and interpret the strange and intricate history of the slave trade in African human beings to the New World between 1501 and 1866. If there were Pulitzer Prizes for databases, this would win, hands down."—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University
(Henry Louis Gates, Jr.)

Winner of the PROSE Award for Excellence in Single Volume Reference/Humanities and Social Sciences catergory, as given by the Association of American Publishers
(PROSE Award for Excellence in Reference Works Association of American Publishers 2011-02-03)

Received Honorable Mention for the 2011 Dartmouth Medal for outstanding reference
(Outstanding Reference Honorable Mention Dartmouth Medal Committee 2011-01-12)

Winner of the 2011 Anisfield-Wolf Awards in the non-fiction category
(Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards Nonfiction Winner Anisfield-Wolf Awards 2011-04-13)

"This marvelous book will change how people think of the slave trade. It deserves every accolade it is likely to get."—Nicolas van de Walle, Foreign Affairs
(Nicolas van de Walle Foreign Affairs)

Received Honorable Mention in the 2011 New York Book Festival Non-Fiction Category
(General Non-Fiction Honorable Mention New York Book Festival)

". . . a beautifully produced volume . . . The whole is topped and tailed by two excellent essays: a masterly introduction by David Brion Davis and a rousing afterword by David Blight. The end result of all this international, scholarly effort is a remarkable book which is not only a pleasure to have on one's shelves, but a model of scholarly and publishing activity. . . . Here, and in their varied (and complex) work as individual scholars, Eltis and Richardson have revealed themselves to be among the most imaginative, influential and distinguished historians of their generation."—James Walvin, International Journal of Maritime History
(James Walvin International Journal of Maritime History)

Winner of the 2011 James A. Rawley Prize in Atlantic history, as given by the American Historical Association.
(James A. Rawley Prize in Atlantic History American Historical Association (AHA))

"This is a beautiful atlas . . . a valuable reference for scholars of slavery and the Atlantic slave trade and a teaching tool for anyone engaged with African or African diasporic history . . . I'll return to it for years to come and look forward to introducing it to my students."—Walter Hawthorne, The Americas
(Walter Hawthorne The Americas)

David Eltis and David Richardson, Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade won the 2011-12 Louis Gottschalk Prize given by the American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies.
This prize is for an outstanding historical or critical study on the eighteenth century and carries an award of $1,000. Louis Gottschalk (1899-1975) second President of ASECS, President of the American Historical Association, and for many years Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, exemplified in his scholarship the humanistic ideals that this award is meant to encourage.
(Louis Gottschalk Prize American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies 2012-03-07)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (November 18, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300124600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300124606
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 1.1 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #659,001 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (Eltis & Richardson, 2010) makes the enormity of 300 years of slave trading much more clear than would a ten-thousand word essay. The charts provide ample food for thought. The commentary is clear, crisp, and sparse enough to allow the reader to reflection on the patterns. The charts make any need for moralizing mute.

Until I viewed this text I had never realized the depth and breadth of the slave trade both in terms of the totality of European nations involved and the vast numbers of humans extracted from African ports. The willingness of the peoples on the coast of Africa to sell their neighbors to the traders was surprising. Dealing with human lives as a commodity must have seemed quite alright to many people in their time. However, nothing seems to have changed if we consider the widespread complacency with genocide not just in Africa but throughout the world.
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Format: Hardcover
This superbly produced book is a pictorial distillation of a major scholarly effort to characterize and quantify the trans-Atlantic slave trade, The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (this database has a very nice website; Amazon doesn't allow links to be posted but its found easily via Google). Assembled over the course of many years by an international team of historians, this database is based on analysis of over 35,000 slave trading voyages. The result is a remarkable assessment of the magnitude and historical evolution of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. To make this information easily acessible, the authors developed an extensive set of maps capturing much of the data.

Major features include the division of the trans-Atlantic slave trade into 3 periods:
1) 1500 to the mid-17th century, when the trade was dominated by the Spanish and Portugese.
2) mid-17th century to the first decade of 19th century, when the trade was entered by Northern Europeans, notably the Dutch, the French, and the British, though Portugese slavers headquartered in Brazil were major figures.
3) first decade of the 19th century to mid-19th century, the age of abolition as the slave trade gradually came to a close and the trade was dominated by Spanish traders in Cuba and Portugese-Brazilian traders.
Another major feature, driven by the nature of Atlantic currents and wind patterns, is the existence of 2 major slave trading circuits. A supra-Equatorial circuit serving the Caribbean, North America, and parts of the Spanish Empire. A sub-Equatorial circuit dominated the trade feeding Brazil.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This astonishing scholarship, based on a laboriously created web site, is the tabula rosa of the Atlantic slave trade. Dedicated to Philip Curtin, who was the pioneer in collecting and assessing Atlantic trade data, David Eltis and David Richardson provide an atlas in which the full nature of this slave trade is easily accessible.
Much of their data comes from the logs of tens of thousands of voyages. They also draw on documentation from the sending and receiving ports. Breaking down slave voyages in different periods, one can visually capture both the changes and the specific providers.

The introduction by David Brion Davis, also a pioneer in this area, provides a cohesive overview to what follows. The brief summaries, as well as the illustrations, assist the reader in absorbing an overwhelming collection of data.

A number of scholars--Hugh Thomas's massive THE SLAVE TRADE comes immediately to mind--have paved the way for what clearly is the definitive portrayal of the magnitude as well as the specifics of this Atlantic slave trade. For generalists the fact that only about 500,000 Africans were sent to North American territories (about 4% of the total Atlantic slave trade) might seem surprising. Also, those Africans in North America multiplied, while the millions of Africans sent to Caribbean sugar plantations seldom lasted seven years.

The authors do not envisage any breakthrough scholarship on an earlier aspect of the African slave trade, which brought countless Africans into the slave markets of the Mediterranean.There apparently are no records remaining from slave traders who took their 'merchandise' across the Sahara.
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This book is a must have for anyone studying the African Diaspora and the statistical and geographic history of the event. Beautiful maps and data tables make the book a handy reference for a scholar, student or someone interested in the era.
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This Atlas is an excellent reference book containing much illuminating information, including many well illustrated maps (all in full color) and numerous charts. The paper and print quality are both very good. For anyone interested in expanding their understanding of the Transatlantic slave trade, this work would make an excellent starting point.
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