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4.8 out of 5 stars
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4.8 out of 5 stars


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on 12 October 2015
Fantastic book and very well detailed. Very helpful and makes me very proud of what was done to create the "new worlds" first black republic in a time where things were very unequal and still are.
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on 7 December 2015
A must-have book on Afro-Caribbean history giving an essential account of what SHOULD be taught in our schools
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on 14 January 2010
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.
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on 20 March 2017
Very good service and an excellent book.
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on 15 July 2012
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 Spanish).

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!
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on 15 October 2016
I am finding this book quite heavy going, particularly the early chapters. It really does read like a history text book. I'm about half way through and it is now starting to become really interesting as the story of Toussaint starts to take centre stage. However, the book is still very heavy on the dates and details of various decrees and the French political landscape at the time, which of course is relevant, but isn't the most interesting thing to read about every other page or so. I am determined to finish it, but it is taking some time to get through , that's for sure.
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on 1 February 2015
Excellent book.
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on 22 July 2015
All time classic arrived on time.
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This book tells the astonishing tale of what I believe is the only successful slave revolt in history, which according to C.L.R.James in a bravura performance owes much to the presence of a personality, Toussaint l’Ouverture, of astonishing intelligence, culture, bravery and powers of endurance; a slave who led his people almost all of the way to independence before the job was finished for him by Dessalines.

James of course is himself a Caribbean, cricket-loving Marxist, and probably all of those qualities come to play. Most importantly, ‘The Black Jacobins’ is an example of Marxist history at its best, because no other approach offers the facility to truly understand the interests of the various parties: the black imported slaves; the mulattoes some of whom were landowners, but all of whom were despised by the whites; the cruel parasitic white landowners whose viciousness set new standards; and as the revolution progressed, the craven folly of Buonaparte and the French, and the sickening cynicism of the British and Americans.

It also has to be acknowledged that the permutations of policy in France during its own revolution were crucial, and it is doubtful if the birth of Haiti would ever have occurred were it not for the fact that at least for about three weeks, the great radicals of France managed to overcome the greed of their bourgeois tendencies long enough to outlaw slavery. Thanks to Buonaparte and many others this view didn’t last long, but it was enough to give the Haitian blacks who at that time were still loyal to France enough courage to burn their boats and declare war on the colonialists.

In a way the key drama in this book is the soul of l’Ouverture, who could never give up his loyalty to France, and as James suggests, his appreciation of European culture. He always held out, even when he was dying of exposure in a French jail, for support from Napoleon and the French. This was fatal for him in the end, and he lost the colossal support he had in Haiti because of it, but in the early stages his European style sense of fairness –‘It’s not cricket!’, you almost hear him saying – and diplomacy helped him manoeuvre his people away from servility, whilst temporarily acquiring the loyalty for strategic purposes of different races and classes within Haiti and beyond its borders.

European fairness of course only applies to those the ruling class approve of, and Toussaint did not long remain in that group.

Another key drama is the amazing letters of Leclerc, the French general on a mission to hell sent out to return the triumphant blacks of Haiti to slavery, who lost just about every man of the 50,000 troops under his command to warfare and sickness.

After the revolution Haiti was treated abominably by all the world’s major powers right up to the present day, but then most small countries are. Despite this it was a beacon of inspiration to other countries, especially in Latin America trying to get out from under the heel of global imperialism.

Truly a triumph, this book.
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on 20 September 2016
Fantastic book...
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