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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 31 January 2007
Britain's involvement with slavery continued for 200 years, and its legacy for another two hundred - in the countries of Africa, among the Affro-carribean community. and in the wealth British society gained from it. This book gives the story of Africa before slavery, its beginnings under the Portuguese, and Britain's leading role in it after the Armada was defeated. The struggle against slavery was strongest among Africans and enslaved people - on board rebellions, attacks on slavers in Africa, and the several successful rebellions in the Carribean; and the work of some highly dedicated and organised people in Britain - Wilberforce, Clarkson, Equiano and the Quakers, who invented the popular political movement - boycotts of slave-produced sugar, parliamentary lobbying, petitions, posters and medallions; which all served to erode Britain's acceptance of

slavery. This is the most balanced account I have read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 16 April 2008
This book attempts to cover a vast range of aspects on the topic of the abolition of slavery in Britain. This is a plus in my opinion if treated as an introduction - it is easy to read, is not overly detailed but provides 20 facts per page. The difference in this book is the range of perspectives covered, from the British abolitionist and abstainers viewpoints to the Africans' own involvement in progressing abolition which is found in many modern accounts, to the politics of African abstainers then to continental and American positions on the topic even discussing pre-Transatlantic Slave Trade Africa. This frames continuous hints throughout that Europe was directly responsible for the relative poverty of Africa.

In a quasi-academic style, citing a few sources but in a (not overly) subjective manner: many well-known names are re-appraised - or sullied as the case often is by their involvement with the Trade. The sections on the under-appreciated Quakers abolition movements are very interesting and the very small sidetracks taken are fascinating.

One criticism may be that time and topic occasionally jump without informing the reader and points are sometimes repeated to provide emphasis which I found somewhat irritating.

A great introduction.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2007
Richard Reddie's book is a well-researched and broad in scope history of the Transatlantic Slave Trade which existed for 276 years. He explores the events leading up to the slave trade, painting a picture of a cultured and learned Africa which became a point in the triangular trade route - from Europe firearms, alcohol, brass, copper and manufactured goods were transported to Africa; slaves were taken in Africa and transported by the `Middle Passage' to the West Indies and America; then sugar, tobacco, rum and molasses from America were transported to Europe. Research suggests up to 15 million enslaved Africans died because of this trade and their treatment by the Europeans makes very sobering reading - especially as Christians weren't only those trying to abolish the trade but were often those who participated and benefited from it.

William Wilberforce and the other abolitionists, such as John Newton, Thomas Clarkson and the freed slave Olaudah Equiano are shown as people who worked tirelessly against the slave trade but also as people who were fallible and whose 19th century view of Africans unable to determine their own lives feels rather uncomfortable to us today. The book is an informative and yet sobering read about an alternative holocaust, one in which many Christians colluded and whose revenues founded some of our largest institutions. It makes for uncomfortable reading but it is an aspect of our history which must not be ignored.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 March 2009
I was looking for an accessible book on the abolition of the slave trade (nothing too long that I would be intimidated by) and Abolition! by Richard Reddie met that criteria. It is written in a style that is easy to read and full of historical detail. Reddie examines those who campaigned for the abolition and their methods, as well as the erosion of acceptance of the slave trade. He isn't afraid of putting in his own opinion, but I found him very honest, admitting when he did so. If I had one criticism, it's that Reddie does deviate from the point and repeats himself, but this is an excellent book, particularly for those new to the subject matter.
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This is a well-written, informative introduction to Britain (and other European countries') crucial and central role in maintaining the slave trade. This is not a dry and detached academic read. The writing style is personal, direct and accessible. In it you will learn such things as the fact that HSBC bank was known as Leyland Bank previously, named for the slave trader Thomas Leyland who set it up with the specific purpose of depositing the spoils from the slave trade. You will learn that the origin of the word Jamaica derives from the word Xamayca which was an Arawak word (one of the two tribes that inhabited the islands before the arrival of the Europeans.) You will learn that the first British millionaire William Beckford became so due to fortunes made on the sugar plantations in Jamaica. You will learn that King Agaja of Dahomey (present day Benin) in the 1720s opposed the slave trade and petitioned Europe to stop (contrary to the notion that Africans sold their own people and idly stood by while slavery happened). Additionally, that there were many attacks by setting on fire of slave holding ships by the African population that caught wind of what was going on. You will learn that Liverpool's net proceeds from the African slave trade between 1783-93 was over £12 million. In addition, Lancashire exported textiles which became clothes for enslaved Africans. British iron was made into chains, manacles and collars used for the slave trade. And in Liverpool slave-ship building boosted employment. Basically the slave trade was massive business (and still is today). Mr. Reddie documents this wonderfully in this relevant, motivational and inspirational book. If you enjoyed this you might also enjoy Staying Power- Black People in Britain. It is slightly longer, thicker and more dry and "academic". However it is a lengthy account of the history of black people in Britain which pre-dates the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons, through the 20th century to the current situation we have today. No more turning a blind eye.
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on 6 December 2014
The book is a great introduction to the Transatlantic slave trade, from the start till it's eventual abolition. In this concise narrative I got a sense of how the much accepted practice of slavery became discredited. Raised in a Islamic tradition where slavery and female rights is still an issue, this book taught me with tangible methods of how to change public opinions using whatever prevailing narratives are available. I am not suggesting that slavery is practiced in the Islamic world of today but it was once, only to be abolished due to Colonisers. For me this rich Western tradition of raising public awareness campaigns against any gross injustice is a powerful tool which most of the Islamic cultures lack completely.

The book was very engaging and kept me captivated, though at times I felt the author giving slight more credit to the black anti slave campaigners which is understandable. The author has done his bit for his native Africans.

Until the lions have their own historians, the story of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2012
When this book arrived I was surprised at how thin the book was and how big the font was considering the enormity of the topic.

The introduction tells you that it wishes to cover: (1) African history pre-transatlantic slave trade; (2)Slavery on British Colonies and the abolition movement; and (3) Africa after the abolition of slavery. As you can see this is a massive undertaking and is geographically inconsistent (sometimes talking about all of Africa and sometimes about British colonies in Africa).

The first part, about the history of Africa pre-transatlantic slave trade, is dealt with in fewer than 15 pages and even references Ancient Egypt which predates the topic of the book by thousands of years. I think that a more effective approach would have been to use case studies of particular parts of Africa, rather than deal with the whole of Africa.

The second part of the book is better, with a brief summary of the anti-slave trade movement in Britain. The third part is not really in the book at all.

There are very few references (endnotes that tell you the source or evidence of the statement in the text) and many arguments badly argued.

I do like how the autor writes about African resistance to slavery. That is the only redeeming part of the book.
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on 21 November 2014
OK - bought for a course - did not find it inspiring.
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on 19 June 2015
ITEM DELIVERED ON TIME AND AS DESCRIBED
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