The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770-1823: David Brion Davis

David Brion Davis’s books on the history of slavery reflect some of the most distinguished and influential thinking on the subject to appear in the past generation. The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, the sequel to Davis’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture and the second volume of a proposed trilogy, is a truly monumental work of historical scholarship that first appeared in 1975 to critical acclaim both academic and literary. This reprint of that important work includes a new preface by the author, in which he situates the book’s argument within the historiographic debates of the last two decades.


The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution by David Brion Davis is a work of majestic scale, written with great skill. It explores the growing consciousness, during a half century of revolutionary change, of the oldest and most extreme form of human exploitation. Concentrating on the
Anglo-American experience, the historian also pursues his theme wherever it leads in western culture. His book is a distinguished example of historical scholarship and art.”–From the citation for the 1975 National Book Award

“In…The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture, David Brion Davis displayed his mastery not only of a vast source of material, but also of the highly complex, frequently contradictory factors that influenced opinion on slavery. He has now followed this up with a study of equal quality….No one haswritten a book about the abolition of slavery that carries the conviction of Professor Davis’s book. And this rich and powerful book will, I am sure, stand the test of time–scholarly, brilliant in analysis, beautifully written.”–J. H. Plumb, The New York Times Book Review

“As Davis’s work demonstrates, good intellectual history is absolutely essential for an adequate understanding of the past; its proper subject is the way flesh-and-blood human beings make sense out of their world and try to gain some kind of mastery over it….It is obvious that Davis’sinterpretation was not imposed on his sources but resulted from a struggle to give them whatever structure and coherence seemed most consistent with the data itself and with the best recent historical work in the field. Nor does he attempt to explain all responses to the problem of slavery as ideological….Indeed the greatest strength of the book arises from its ability to provide a convincing general interpretation while doing full justice to a variety of historical experiences and perspectives….It is hard to imagine anyone going over the same ground for a long time.”–George M.
Fredrickson, The New York Review of Books

“A worthy successor to Davis’s magnificent The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture. Together, these volumes represent the high point of scholarship in this field. They will undoubtedly remain at the center of discussion for many decades and perhaps beyond.”–Edward Genovese

“One of the many remarkable things about this book is that it equals and even exceeds the level of scholarship and history established by the author’s preceding volume.”–C. Vann Woodward
“A superb continuation of Davis’s work on the problem of slavery in western culture. It is a fascinating and profound study of the rise of the antislavery movement in England and America, as well as of the social, political, and economic milieu in which it operated.”–Stanley L. Engerman

“A penetrating work of mature scholarship and extraordinary erudition….It deals with a historical problem of vast and enduring moral importance.”–Michael Kammen
“One of the most stunning books I have ever read….What is overpowering is the magnitude of the questions Davis asks and the seriousness with which he probes their complexities.”–Sanford Levinson

About the Author

David Brion Davis is Sterling Professor of History at Yale University. A former President of the Organization of American Historians, he has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Bancroft Prize, and the American Historical Association’s Beveridge Award. His most recent book is The
Boisterous Sea of Liberty: A Documentary History of America from Discovery through the Civil War (Oxford University Press, 1998, with Steven Mintz).

  • Publisher : Oxford University Press; Subsequent edition (April 15, 1999)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 576 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0195126718
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0195126716
  • Item Weight : 1.8 pounds
  • Dimensions : 9.22 x 6.09 x 1.39 inches

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