Sunday, June 01, 2008

Book review: Rough Crossings, Simon Schama

Schama does a great job of personalizing the history of enslaved Americans in the American Revolution.

Promised freedom if they would side with the British, these people found themselves shuttled to Newfoundland, from there to England, then off to Africa. Despite powerful friends and champions, many of them ended up starving on the streets of London, or making hardscrabble existences on the thin soil of Canada. Some were kidnapped and sold back into slavery. Only a few ever made it to Africa, and the so-called democracy they found there was still fraught with betrayal.

It's not a particularly uplifting story, as history goes, but it's well-told and gives a view of the American Revolution and its aftermath that is seldom discussed.

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