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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another MUST for Caribbeans and their descendants,
This review is from: The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (Penguin History) (Paperback)Simply, this is one of THE MOST IMPORTANT books to be written on the colonial history of the Caribbean and on the (little discussed) defeat of the most powerful European nations of the day - by Africans - in the creation of HAITI, which may be the first African state to be created outside of mainland Africa, in the modern age.
The book would appeal to any reader as it is written in a lucid and narrative style by one of the Caribbean's greatest writers and thinkers - the highly acclaimed Mr CLR James, who took great care to research the evidence contained in the book. I cannot thank and honour him enough for this achievement he left to add to our great heritage.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a revelation of a little known history,
This review is from: The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (Penguin History) (Paperback)This book opens with a graphic description of the horrors of the slave trade.It brings to life the terrible images from the era which i thought i comprehended in some small way. The barbarity of the times and the conditions of everyday life not only for the african victims but the vile way of life that the europeans created for themselves is shocking.The book describes a world in which life had very little value and often ended in the most awful ways-disease,murder,starvation claimed many more peope than old age. It is an amazing story of the staggering wealth the west indies brought europe and france in particular. As an insight of what lay behind the great pomp and grandeur of the french state and its betrayal and double dealing with its foriegn colonies it is af real interest.Its parralleling of the french revolution and how it played out in the colonies brings to light a lot of the underlying forces of the revolution and the politics of the new society being molded.the betrayel of the french masses and their support for the freeing of black slaves and all the oppressed reveals how the revolutionary cause was undermined by the elites with little concern for morality or human decency. It is a real shame how the great sacrifices made on both sides of the atlantic seldom benifitted those that made them.The author describes with great sympathy and understanding the central characters,introducing this reader to a cast of characters i new absolutely nothing about.. And although it does read like a book from the 30's it is rigourous in its attempt to be faithful to the past and also be relevant to our present.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Leader of Men, a Tactical Genius, but foremost a Great Man!,
This review is from: The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (Penguin History) (Paperback)Outside of Haiti, Toussaint L'Ouverture's historical exploits have largely gone unnoticed, mainly because
he stood up to Europes most formidable armies (the British, the French & the Spainiards).
CLR James' excellent book tells us how this great general inspired the slaves of San Domingo to rise up in revolt against
the murderous regime of slavery. He defeated - time after time - Europe's elite armies, including standing up to Napoleon's
formidable military forces (many of L'Ouverture's military tactics were then copied throughout the century).
When the French army where about to invade the island of Haiti, L'Ouverture gave a rousing speech to his indomitable troops:
'My children, France comes to make us slaves [again]. God gave us liberty; France has no right to take
it away. Burn the cities, destroy the harvests, tear up the roads with cannon, poison the wells, show
the white man the hell he comes to make'.
L'Ouverture's tactical nous in the battle field was so good that he had to be tricked into a cowardly capture.
Like one reviewer has already mentioned, I am also surprised that no major film company hasn't made a movie about this puissant general to-date.
L'Ouverture's exploits were so good, that Europe - and to some extent America - made sure that the people of Haiti
suffered through economic sanctions, that today, they are now one of the poorest nations in the world, and will always go
cap in hand to other countries for financial help.
I would recommend 'The Black Jacobins' to anyone who wants to read about a man who had principles, and stood
his ground against the evils of bondage, and held out against all the odds ... a riveting page turning read!
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it, you won't regret it!,
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From St. Dominigue to Haiti via Toussant L'Ouverture,
St. Dominigue produced fabulous wealth for the few, the plantation owners and the merchants in France. This wealth was built on the triangular trade of slaves from Africa to the plantations, the production of sugar and coffee on the plantations and its export to the mother country. In return the mother country exported back to the colony manufactured goods and luxuries. This wealth was based on the labour of the black slaves, who hugely outnumbered the whites. Into the mix were the mulattoes, the coloureds, the product of the droit du seigneur of the whites. Because they were so outnumbered, the control of the slaves by the whites was unbelievably barbaric.
Then came the French Revolution. The whites fragmented into warring factions both in France and in the colonies and began to lose control of the slaves. Eventually, in the spirit of the Revolution, the French Assembly declared the slaves free. During this struggle Toussaint L'Ouverture, an ex-slave, rose as one of the leading figures fighting against the reaction of the wealthy in the colony. Loyal to France, loyal to the Revolution, and above all loyal to the ex-slaves, he steered his colony towards emancipation. Then came Bonaparte.
Bonaparte sent his troops to the island. They fought with fervour thinking that it was a continuation of the Revolution, but Bonaparte had given secret instructions: the blacks were to be either exterminated or re-enslaved. Toussaint L'Ouverture was captured, sent to France, jailed and starved to death. The French committed barbarous, unspeakable, sadistic crimes against the ex-slaves. Would the British have been any different if they had succeeded in their earlier military action? The revolutionary spirit was dead with the French but still alive in the ex-slaves, who drove the French out of their land. The aristocracy of the skin was over.
Francophone colonial history is less familiar to us than its British equivalent but this is the West Indies and C.L.R. James was a West Indian and black. It was written in 1938 when Britain was still a colonial power in Africa and the West Indies, before Macmillan's Wind of Change speech, before the civil rights movement in the United States and before the start and end of Apartheid.
HOWEVER, although this is a great book, I would have preferred fewer extended direct quotes from the letters of the time. It has one satisfactory map but I would have preferred more. At times I found the cast of characters confusing and glossary of their names and details would have eased my confusion.
C.L.R. James was a Marxist and an anti-colonialist. He tells this history truthfully but comments on it from his Marxian perspective. Class is as important as race. And in a revolutionary history, I found this approach entirely appropriate without necessarily agreeing with all the author's analysis. The short introduction by James Walvin helps put the book in context. Later scholarship has had access to sources not available to James but this is still a classic timeless book.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Black Jacobins:Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution,
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical treasure for all Caribbeans and Africans to behold,
This review is from: The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (Paperback)This is one of the, if not the most, important books to be written concerning the 'Atlantic Slave Trade' and European imperialism/colonisation in the 'West Indies'/Caribbean.
As such, the book - which is lucidly written in a narrative style - should be read and treasured by all 'West Indians'/Caribbeans and peoples of Africa.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well written historical book,
Book arrived safely and was well packed.....as usual.
1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important but aged,
Unfortunatly marxist historians do not seem to have aged like a fine scotch, rather a truck of apples. The subject has moved on considerably in the past 73 years and i can recommend Jeremy Popkin's Facing Racial Revolution: Eyewitness Accounts of the Haitian Insurrection or his You Are All Free: The Haitian Revolution and the Abolition of Slavery. It is now 2011, marxism is pooped out and revolutionary historiography has moved on.
What you will find in James's work however is a well written account of the Haitain Revolution that, however aged, is fun to read.
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The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (Penguin History) by C. L. R. James