Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution Hardcover – 8 Sep 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
Schama's critics have lambasted his descent into popular history, especially his work on the History of Britain. This book can be seen as an academic riposte to those critics. It is in the traditional vein of Schama - sharp, inquiring and totally different to anything he has published before. The ability of the man to write on the golden age of the Dutch Republic, a history of Britain, the French Revolution and art in Western Europe demonstrates the plurality and depth of his interests.
This new work is an altogether bolder departure. It covers a grey and controversial period of history around the American war of independence. In dealing with two countries that have still not resolved their ingrained race relation problems, and confronting the issue of slavery, Schama makes a bold and brave attempt to understand the roots of problems, and uncovers the startling role played by the black slaves in the War of Independence.
While the Founding Fathers were proclaiming the inherent liberty of the freeborn man from the bondage of English tyranny, many themselves were the owners of slaves. The hypocrisy was all too evident for some of the more thoughtful, such as Franklin's proclaimed abhorrence for the practice. But others so no such contradiction in not extending the principles to black people, reserving such universal freedoms for the whites of the continent.
Sensing the potential for creating and utilizing a decisive fifth column, the British promised the blacks liberty.Read more ›
Starting even before the Revolutionary War, so-called American Patriots and the "founding fathers" exhibited the same kind of special interest/self interest that schoolchildren today are taught is beneath public service. Patrick (Give me liberty or give me death!) Henry could not for the life of him understand why he should free his own slaves. Thomas Jefferson's first declaration of independence in 1775 cited the British government's rumored incitement of Negroes to rise up for their freedom as one of the prime movers of the colonies to break free of the tyranny of England.
He was proven right in that tens of thousands of slaves ran away to fight on the British side, against the colonists. The "Patriots" killed every runaway they could find before they got to the English ships. (The same was to occur in 1812, when the British and the Americans clashed again)
The British, who of course taught the Americans everything they knew about slavery in the first place, had only recently begun to abhor it. Using the courts, English activists were able to obtain the freedom of people who were being captured in England to be shipped off to sugar plantations. The British public, caught up in this humanitarian, headline-making campaign, was offended by the tyranny of the Americans, just as the Americans were offended by the tyranny of the British in things like taxation. The result was armed conflict.Read more ›
This is a story to move you to tears. It is one not without some pride if you are British, but shame if you are American. I have often wondered, if i had lived in America in 1776, whose side wouldIi have been on. If you were black the question is a no-brainer.
Sharma can be a bit too detailed for the casual reader but he writes well and with surprising sympathy for the Evangelical Christianity which characterised the blacks and those whites who struggled long and hard for their liberty.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
After having been quite disappointed in some of Schama's work, this is vindication of his powers - breadth, depth and passion has gone into this book, telling the terrible story of... Read morePublished on 10 Feb. 2013 by Eileen Shaw
Like the ships' journeys, this is a three part tale. For the ships, it was from some British port to the coast of Africa, thence - loaded with "live cargo" - across the Atlantic to... Read morePublished on 30 Oct. 2007 by Stephen A. Haines
I have just heard the NPR interview with Mr. Schama and am literally going out to buy his book at now. Read morePublished on 8 May 2006 by B. Koranache
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