The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution: C.L.R. James

A classic and impassioned account of the Haitian Revolution—the first revolution in the Third World and the model for the liberation movements from Africa to Cuba.

“One of the seminal texts about the history of slavery and abolition. . . . Provocative and empowering.” –The New York Times Book Review

This powerful, intensely dramatic book is the definitive account of the Haitian Revolution of 1794-1803, a revolution that began in the wake of the Bastille. It is the story of the French colony of San Domingo, a place where the brutality of master toward slave was legendary. And it is the story of a barely literate slave named Toussaint L’Ouverture, who led the black people of San Domingo in a successful struggle against successive invasions by overwhelming French, Spanish, and English forces and in the process helped form the first independent nation in the Caribbean.

In 1789 the French colony of Saint Domingue was the most profitable real estate in the world. These profits came at a price: while its sugar plantations supplied two-thirds of France’s overseas trade, they also stimulated the greatest individual market for the slave trade. The slaves were brutally treated and died in great numbers, prompting a never-ending influx of new slaves.

The French Revolution sent waves all the way across the Atlantic, dividing the colony’s white population in 1791. The elites remained royalist, while the bourgeoisie embraced the revolutionary ideals. The slaves seized the moment and in the confusion rebelled en masse against their owners. The Haitian Slave Revolt had begun. When it ended in 1803, Saint Domingue had become Haiti, the first independent nation in the Caribbean.

C.L.R. James tells the story of the revolt and the events leading up to it in his masterpiece, The Black Jacobins. James’s personal beliefs infuse his narrative: in his preface to a 1962 edition of the book, he asserts that , when written in 1938, it was “intended to stimulate the coming emancipation of Africa.” James writes passionately about the horrific lives of the slaves and of the man who rose up and led them–a semiliterate slave named François-Dominique Toussaint L’Ouverture. As James notes, however, “Toussaint did not make the revolution. It was the revolution that made Toussaint.”

With its appendix, “From Toussaint L’Ouverture to Fidel Castro,” The Black Jacobins provides an excellent window into the Haitian Revolution and the worldwide repercussions it caused. –Sunny Delaney

Review

“One of the seminal texts about the history of slavery and abolition. . . . Provocative and empowering.” –The New York Times Book Review

“Brilliantly conceived and executed…. The absorbing narrative never departs from its rigid faithfulness to method and documentation.” —Books

“Mr. James is not afraid to touch his pen with the flame of ardent personal feeling—a sense of justice, love of freedom, admiration for heroism, hatred for tyranny—and his detailed, richly documented and dramatically written book holds a deep and lasting interest.” —The New York Times

From the Publisher

“Detailed, richly documented and dramatically written.”–The New York Times

From the Inside Flap

A classic and impassioned account of the first revolution in the Third World.
This powerful, intensely dramatic book is the definitive account of the Haitian Revolution of 1794-1803, a revolution that began in the wake of the Bastille but became the model for the Third World liberation movements from Africa to Cuba. It is the story of the French colony of San Domingo, a place where the brutality of master toward slave was commonplace and ingeniously refined. And it is the story of a barely literate slave named Toussaint L’Ouverture, who led the black people of San Domingo in a successful struggle against successive invasions by overwhelming French, Spanish, and English forces and in the process helped form the first independent nation in the Caribbean.

From the Back Cover

This powerful, intensely dramatic book is the definitive account of the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1803, a revolution that began in the wake of the Bastille but became the model for Third World liberation movements from Africa to Cuba.

About the Author

C. L. R. JAMES (1901-1989) was a Trinidadian-born historian, literary critic, and philosopher, and a leader of the pan-African movement. A prodigious and eclectic intellectual, he debated Marcus Garvey in England, confronted Trotsky in Mexico, and influenced leaders of African revolutions including Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. He is perhaps best remembered for his 1938 masterwork, The Black Jacobins, the first major analysis of the Haitian Revolution in the context of the French Revolution. In addition to his many works of history and his political activism, he was known as well for occasional playwriting and fiction; his novel Minty Alley, written in 1927, was the first by a black West Indian to be published in Britain. James was also known as an avid sportsman; he was the cricket writer for The Manchester Guardian beginning in the 1930s, and his 1963 book, Beyond a Boundary, which he described as “neither cricket reminiscences nor autobiography,” has been hailed as the best single book on cricket ever written.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Vintage; 2nd edition (October 23, 1989)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 448 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0679724672
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0679724674
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 10.8 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.14 x 0.71 x 7.96 inches

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