The Rise of African Slavery in the Americas: David Eltis

Exploring the paradox of the concurrent development of slavery and freedom in the European domains, The Rise of African Slavery in the Americas provides a fresh interpretation of the development of the English Atlantic slave system. The book outlines a major African role in the evolution of the Atlantic societies before the nineteenth century and argues that the transatlantic slave trade was a result of African strength rather than African weakness. It also addresses changing patterns of group identity to account for the racial basis of slavery in the early modern Atlantic World.


“Eltis’s impressive book does good work in two different arenas. Specialists in research on the Atlantic slave trade in Africa and the Americas will see better then before the integration among markets and regions that characterized this trade. Economists and historians who are not specialists will see this as well, but they will also find the book a proficient and well-sourced overview of a massive subject.” EH.NET

“The Rise of African Slavery bears all the hallmarks of the historical craftsmanship we have come to expect from Eltis; a grasp of theoretical and statistical complexity, a mastery of archival materials and a rare ability to impose a tight and disciplined argument on material which, in less talented hands, might overwhelm the author. Here, as elsewhere, Eltis reveals himself to be the finest historian in the field.” International Journal of Maritime History

“Eltis has produced a volume of remarkable empirical depth and insightful interpretation that deserves a wide audience. His enormously important book will no doubt quickly come to be regarded as one of the best examples of what the growing field of Atlantic history has to offer…The author’s probing, often provocative conclusions will surely stimulate debate among specialists in a range of subfields concerned with the early modern histories of Europe, Africa, and the Americas.” William and Mary Quarterly

“Commented the Gilder Lehrman Center’s director, David Brion Davis, professor of history at Yale: ‘ This work fundamentally reshapes our understanding of the origins and development of African slavery in the New World…Professor Eltis’ painstakingly researched and convincingly argued book stands as a major contribution to the field.'” Houston, TX NEWSPAGES

“As an economic history of the Atlantic slave trade and the plantation complex in the Americas, Dr. Eltis’s work contains an impressive amount of factual and quantitative detail.” The Americas

“The book shows that African agency was crucially important in determining who entered the slave trade and how it was conducted…Eltis writes clearly and provocatively and never loses sight of the larger framework he is dicussing.” The International History Review

“This is a well-crafted, imaginatively constructed, complex account of why slavery in the Americas became exclusively African…This elegantly written account is tantalizing, provocative…” American Historical Review Dec 2001

“…a sophisticated, highly recommended, and unusually stimulating book with an outstanding bibliography…readers will admire the strong appeal to consider the cultural dimensions of economic and political decision-making.” The Historian

  • Paperback : 372 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 052165548X
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0521655484
  • Dimensions : 6 x 0.93 x 9 inches
  • Publisher : Cambridge University Press; 1st Printing edition (January 5, 2010)

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