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If We Must DieIf We Must Die

Shipboard Insurrections in the Era of the Atlantic Slave Trade

Eric Robert Taylor


Book published by Louisiana State University Press


If We Must Die examines nearly five hundred shipboard rebellions that occurred over the course of the entire slave trade, directly challenging the prevailing thesis that such resistance was infrequent or insignificant. As Eric Robert Taylor shows, though most revolts were crushed quickly, others raged on for hours, days, or weeks, and, occasionally, the Africans captured the vessel and returned themselves to freedom. In recounting these rebellions, Taylor suggests that certain factors like geographic location, the involvement of women and children, and the timing of a shipboard revolt, determined the difference between success and failure. Taylor also explores issues like aid from other ships, punishment of slave rebels, and treatment of sailors captured by the Africans. If We Must Die expands the historical view of slave resistance, revealing a continuum of rebellions that spanned the Atlantic as well as the centuries. These uprisings, Taylor argues, ultimately helped limit and end the traffic in enslaved Africans and also served as crucial predecessors to the many revolts that occurred subsequently on plantations throughout the Americas.

Eric Robert Taylor is a freelance television producer who lives in Los Angeles. He holds a doctorate in history from the University of California, Los Angeles.

REVIEWS:

“More than a century and a half after his death, John James Audubon—flamboyant, intense, garrulous, insecure, and yet gifted beyond measure—remains one of the most compelling figures in American history. In this fine new biography, Gregory Nobles brings 'the American Woodsman' back to full, vivid life, capturing the artist's many facets as Audubon himself captured the essence of his beloved birds.”

—Scott Weidensaul, author of Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding

“Compulsively readable and fascinating. Gregory Nobles's bottom-to-top assessment of the entire tableau of Audubon lore is terrific.”

—Daniel Lewis, author of The Feathery Tribe: Robert Ridgway and the Modern Study of Birds

“An elegant book that adroitly weaves together a portrait of a man of genius and an account of the cultural and economic worlds in which he worked.”

—Ann Fabian, author of The Skull Collectors: Race, Science, and America's Unburied Dead

“Eric Robert Taylor has written a book that is long overdue. He provides the first authoritative and comprehensive examination of shipboard revolts in the Atlantic Slave Trade. A product of indefatigable research .... this is an excellent book that should command the attention of any scholar of slavery.”

The America

“Well researched and ably written, Taylor’s study fills an important void in the historiography of the transatlantic slave trade.”

Journal of American History

“A trailblazing book.... thoroughly researched and well written, and should be of great interest to students and scholars of slavery, the slave trade, and the history of the African diaspora in the Americas.”

Journal of African American History

“The real strength of this work is the way Taylor’s analysis follows his evidence.... He sees complexity and contingency and gives full play to the full spectrum of human responses to these extreme circumstances.”

Journal of Southern History

“Taylor’s work is a valuable contribution to the growing body of scholarship concerning slavery and the slave trade.”

North Carolina Historical Review





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University Press Audiobooks
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University Press Audiobooks

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