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The Haitian Revolution began in the French Caribbean colony of Saint-Domingue with a slave revolt in August 1791 and culminated a dozen years later in the proclamation of the world's first independent Black state. After the abolition of slavery in 1793, Toussaint Louverture, himself a former slave, became the leader of the colony's Black population, the commander of its republican army and eventually its governor. During the course of his extraordinary life he confronted some of the dominant forces of his age - slavery, settler colonialism, imperialism and racial hierarchy. Treacherously seized by Napoleon's invading army in 1802, this charismatic figure ended his days, in Wordsworth's phrase, 'the most unhappy man of men', imprisoned in a fortress in France.
Black Spartacus draws on a wealth of archival material, much of it overlooked by previous biographers, to follow every step of Louverture's singular journey, from his triumphs against French, Spanish and British troops to his skilful regional diplomacy, his Machiavellian dealings with successive French colonial administrators and his bold promulgation of an autonomous constitution. Sudhir Hazareesingh shows that Louverture developed his unique vision and leadership not solely in response to imported Enlightenment ideals and revolutionary events in Europe and the Americas, but through a hybrid heritage of fraternal slave organisations, Caribbean mysticism and African political traditions. Above all, Hazareesingh retrieves Louverture's rousing voice and force of personality, making this the most engaging, as well as the most complete, biography to date.
After his death in the French fortress, Louverture became a figure of legend, a beacon for slaves across the Atlantic and for generations of European republicans and progressive figures in the Americas. He inspired the anti-slavery campaigner Frederick Douglass, the most eminent 19th-century African American; his emancipatory struggle was hailed by those who defied imperial and colonial rule well into the 20th. In the modern era, his life informed the French poet Aimé Césaire's seminal idea of négritude and has been celebrated in a remarkable range of plays, songs, novels and statues. Here, in all its drama, is the epic story of the world's first Black superhero.
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- Gruffydd P. Jones
I’m afraid the author’s decision to do the narration himself was mistaken. The unvarying tone, the slight misplacements of emphasis and the inappropriate micro-pauses detract from what is, I’m sure, a good read. There were times when I began to suspect that the narration was computer-generated or manipulated. A professional narrator would have brought the text to life. I returned the audiobook. The two chapters I heard convinced me to buy or loan the print version instead.
4 people found this helpful
Fantastic Researched Biography
The level of detail and research is fantastic and I thank the author for writing this exceptional biography which is level, engaging and exhilarating. The narration was a little monotone but not too distracting however, my only criticism was that the quotes narrated in French were not interpreted into English....so were lost on me - and that was a disappointment.